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Software development

software-development 

An overview of software development

The software development industry consists of organisations which develop, maintain and publish software or applications for themselves or for clients.

It is currently the fastest growing industry in the IT space.

Factors affecting this industry – and it's growth – include the outsourcing of development work overseas, open source data, multiple platform working (e.g. mobile technology), cloud technology, big data, and gaming.

There has also been an increase in the use of systems for business process management such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

Industry websites such as the British Computer Society and Computer Weekly can help you keep up-to-date with what's happening in the market and will provide sector information. This can be particularly useful when faced with commercial awareness questions during a recruitment process.

Global and regional overview

Worldwide, the industry is worth $407 billion (Gartner, 2013); the UK industry is worth £22 billion with current annual growth of 4.7% (Ibis World, 2016).

A UK International Trade report estimates that there are around 100,000 software development companies in the UK.

Worldwide, the four largest vendors are Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, IBM and SAP, but in the UK these large players account for only 12% of revenues and the market also consists of many small-medium sized companies, and start-ups.

The UK, many of these organisations are London-based; in west London as well as the east London-based Tech City. There is also a "Silicon Fen" hub around Cambridge, as well as clusters in Scotland.

Tech Nottingham is a local network offering events and information for Nottingham's software community.

Every year a number of Nottingham students opt to start their own software development companies. Support for this is available from the Ingenuity Lab based at Jubilee Campus.

 

Using your degree skills in this sector

Wtihin the software development industry there are  a large number of roles for software and application development and job titles may not be standard across the industry.

Companies also recruit for other roles within the software project lifecycle. These might include project managers, technical sales and business development consultants, business analysts, and systems analysts.

Some roles are less technical, for example a business analyst might be more involved in understanding client software requirements and communicating these to developers.

This Wikipedia article provides a useful and readable description of roles involved in a typical system lifecycle. 

Medium-sized and larger organisations will also require head office personnel such as marketing, HR and finance which graduates from any discipline would be able to apply for.

Computer science students are obviously highly sought-after within this sector, but organisations are also often interested in maths and physics students due to their analytical skills as well as individuals who have programming or IT experience.

A relevant degree is useful but anyone with coding skills and some experience with programming languages should be able to apply. 

Many employers are interested in candidates who can show that they have written code in their spare time and are able to pick up new languages. 

Some organisations will be happy to train graduates in the particular software they use and are looking more for evidence of good general technical understanding and comptence.

It is also useful to talk about how you can work effectively in teams and communicate to solve problems effectively. 

Employers and further study

Work experience

Nottingham computer science students have recently completed year-in-industry placements with companies such as Esendex, Midland HR and Thomson Reuters. YINI, based at University Park, can help you source a year-in-industry placement.

Shorter-term work experience or internships will also help when you are applying. Internship and placement opportunities can be found on Gradcracker, Prospects and Rate My Placement websites, as well as My Career.

We also have the Nottingham Internship Scheme where students from The University of Nottingham are placed in local work experience opportunities during the summer.

As well as formal work experience, it may also be useful for you to gain coding experience through student societies or volunteering. Hacksoc offers opportunities and encourages students from all disciplines to gain coding experience.

Graduate entry level roles

Many larger employers such as Microsoft and IBM offer graduate schemes, but some medium-sized employers are also offering roles to graduates on a regular basis.

Employers may prefer a computer science, maths or physics degree, but even for technical roles an interest and some work experience in programming may be sufficient. Search on Gradcracker, Prospects and My Career.

Recruiters from global, national and regional IT organisations attend our careers fairs, as well as other events. These opportunities can be useful for networking and gaining information about the roles they offer.

IT-based organisations may attend the annual Science and Technology Fair, but it's also worth checking companies attending the Careers in Management Fair and the Graduate Jobs Fair.

 

Further study options

It is possible to study MSc courses in computer science and more specialised areas. Although a masters qualification is certainly not a prerequisite, postgraduates may find their specific experiences enable them to progress more quickly.

PhD students may find their skills useful in organisations looking to adopt brand new technologies who might be offering research and development roles.

Horizon is a Nottingham-led research institute bringing together researchers within industry partners looking to innovate.

Further resources

Industry websites

Computer Weekly

British Computer Society

The Engineer

Sources of vacancies

Gradcracker

Dice.com

CW Jobs

itgraduatejobs.com

Prospects

TARGETjobs

Rate My Placement

Articles of Interest

The Engineer: Guide to the software industry

Careers and Employability Service

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