In Conversation with Dan McFarland: Why You Should Pursue a Career in Software Engineering - Insights from Digital DNA’s Developer of the Year 2024 featured image

In Conversation with Dan McFarland: Why You Should Pursue a Career in Software Engineering – Insights from Digital DNA’s Developer of the Year 2024

Following Senior Engineer Dan McFarland’s win at the 2024 Digital DNA Awards, we sat down and spoke with Dan to provide future engineers with invaluable insights, firsthand experiences, and reasons why venturing into the realm of software engineering isn’t just a career but a passion.

1. Can you share your journey into software engineering and what inspired you to pursue this career?

‘My journey into software engineering wasn’t deliberate; rather, it unfolded organically, guided by my curiosity and affinity for problem-solving. From a young age, I’ve been captivated by the inner workings of technology, particularly computers, and the endless possibilities they unlock.

The dynamic nature of the field has been a driving force behind my continued engagement and enthusiasm. The constant evolution presents both challenges and opportunities, fuelling my desire to push boundaries and strive for more.

Reflecting on my path, I realise that my journey into software engineering has been somewhat unconventional. However, this unpredictability has only deepened my passion for the field.’

2.What key skills or qualities do you think are essential for success in the field of software engineering, and how can aspiring engineers develop these attributes?

‘I believe that there are a number of key skills / qualities that are essential for success in software engineering. Some of these include attention to detail, adaptability and collaboration. Aspiring engineers can develop these in a number of ways:

  • Attention to detail: Rigorously testing code, reviewing work for errors, and paying close attention to specifications and requirements.
  • Adaptability: Being open to learning, embracing change, and proactively seeking opportunities for skill enhancement are crucial.’

3. Describe a particularly challenging project you’ve worked on and how you overcame obstacles to achieve success?

‘I wouldn’t say there’s been a particular project that stands out as having been challenging, but there are aspects of every project that are challenging. I find it best to collaborate with another member of the team in trying to overcome the obstacle. This usually involves coming up with ideas to try and resolve it. This is the time where I find we learn so much, and while there’s usually only one real solution, the ideas and concepts developed along the way are a great way to learn something new.’

4. What has been your most rewarding experience during your time at Scaffold? This can be project or team related.

 I would say overall my entire experience at Scaffold has been extremely rewarding, specifically the continuous growth and evolution of skills and expertise over the years. I think it’s most rewarding to know how far I’ve come and know that I’m continually improving and expanding my knowledge.

5. In your opinion, what emerging technologies or trends do you think will significantly impact the field of software engineering?

‘In my view, one of the most impactful emerging technologies in the field of software engineering is artificial intelligence (AI). It’s been the buzzword of the decade, and for good reason. The advancements in AI hold tremendous potential to revolutionise various aspects of software engineering.

While AI has the potential to greatly enhance software development processes, from automated testing to code generation, it’s important to recognize that achieving true ‘intelligence’ in software is still a work in progress. We’re witnessing significant strides in machine learning algorithms, natural language processing, and computer vision, but it may take years before we see AI systems that truly exhibit human-like intelligence.

Nonetheless, the integration of AI technologies into software engineering practices is inevitable and holds promise for streamlining workflows, enhancing productivity, and unlocking new possibilities. As these technologies continue to mature, software engineers will need to adapt and acquire the necessary skills to leverage AI effectively in their work.’

6. As Developer of the Year, what advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming a software engineer?

‘I would suggest finding an aspect of software engineering that you’ve got a passion for, whether that be UX, Security, Web, DevOps – the list goes on – and focusing on that, as it will really help to build a strong foundation. I’d also suggest reaching out to someone who is experienced in the field with the goal of having them as a mentor. Finally I’d say remember to enjoy it all as it’s such a rewarding experience.’


To explore Software Engineering opportunities at Scaffold Digital, click here.