Engineering and Product

Mario Sinovcic, Graduate Software Engineer at MYOB

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Mario Sinovic, Graduate Software Engineer at MYOB, to learn more about his career journey into software engineering. Mario shares some really great insight into the value of developing your communication skills, as well as understanding the fundamentals of software architecture as opposed to just learning the various languages.

He also has some great advice for others thinking about their own career journey and how they can focus on their own development, as opposed to constantly comparing themselves to others. Thanks for sharing your story, Mario.

“I try to write little sets of instructions (like the instructions for a lego set) that computers can understand...”

Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?

I write code. This means I try to write little sets of instructions (like the instructions for a lego set) that computers can understand so that the computer does what people want it to do.

And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?

I’d still say I’m writing small sets of instructions but it's less about making the computer understand them and more about making the code readable for people.

Making programs run isn't hard but a good programmer aims to make their code flexible, readable, and robust which can be a lot more challenging.

As a result, my day-to-day often involves refactoring code to make it more flexible, implementing new features and fixing bugs or performance issues that are effecting the users.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working as a Software Engineer?

A pretty common misconception regards the social aspect of software engineering. Often programming is portrayed as a very individual task but in reality almost all software engineering is conducted in teams.

As a result, communication skills and other interpersonal capabilities are really valuable.

Programming knowledge is another misconception that should be highlighted. Beginners in the industry often ask what programming languages to learn or what tools to familiarize themselves with.

The end goal they set for themselves is to know all of the programming languages and to be able to use all the tools in software development landscape.

Not only is this nearly impossible but it’s also quite useless if the code that’s written in all of those languages isn’t held to a high standard. It is much more valuable to understand the fundamentals of programming rather than to focus on frameworks or languages.

Understanding good coding practices, how code interacts with the internet and the fundamentals of software architecture is significantly more translatable and valuable.

“Working in tech wasn’t something I really considered until late into high school.”

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

Working in tech wasn’t something I really considered until late into high school. Up until then I wasn’t really focused on my life after high school.

One of the main reasons I chose the software engineering career path was that I had family in Europe I wanted to go see and I knew that finding work as a developer wasn’t very difficult overseas.

Additionally, like many other branches of engineering, coding presents lots of opportunities for continuous learning and problem-solving.

Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at MYOB?

My career started at the University of Auckland where I studied software engineering. Throughout university, my cohort was very aware of the value of practical experience.

As a result, I and my peers would always be looking for internship programs, start-up companies, and other opportunities that would help to develop our understanding as programmers.

I was lucky enough to work at a start-up called Woork who were developing software for real estate agents, I also built an internal web application for employees at EY, and landing an internship at MYOB.

At the end of my internship at MYOB I was offered a position as a graduate developer in the protege program which I took up immediately.

“Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.”

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to who you were yesterday. In this industry, no one can learn everything. It’s important to accept that and not be upset by those who know more than you in certain areas.

Instead, setting goals for yourself based on where you were and where you want to be will hopefully make you more knowledgeable in the future.

Do you have any advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker?

Set goals and be organized. There is lots to learn and the best way to go about is to be pragmatic. Start a reading list, create a table of subjects you want to learn and your familiarity with them, bookmark online resources, etc.

Understanding what you want to explore next can be quite usefully when deciding on a side project or even what company you want to join next.

Finally, if you are exposed to anything you don’t know be honest with yourself (and everyone else on your team) when approaching the problem. Exposing your ignorance is key to progressing.

Lastly, MYOB continues to grow and evolve. What kind of candidates do you think MYOB is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?

As mentioned previously, to be a well-rounded and valuable developer you need to have a hunger for knowledge and to be willing to give new experiences a go.

As a result, MYOB is not too particular about your background (for example, most of the people hired in my intake had little software engineering experience and some didn’t even study it at university).

Being able to communicate where you need to improve and being eager to do so is a great start.

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