Harvey Rice, Senior Software Engineer, shares his advice for a career in programming - and talks about the relationship between coding and creativity.
What is your role within Agilisys Guernsey?
I’m a Senior Software Engineer with Agilisys Guernsey.
Our team develops software and systems for the States of Guernsey – employing skills like maths, project management, and programming. One of the best things about my job is writing code as part of a project, typically to implement new functionality into a system.
I can also be found unpicking tricky bits of code, deciphering broken code and resolving problems – which although markedly less glamorous is an important part of a programmer’s role.
Beyond that, I spend time engaging with our customer to discuss changes and requirements – typically for CURAM, the benefits system used by Social Security. This involves translating the States’ specifications into a solution that meets their needs - and then writing the code to make it happen.
Can you tell us about your team?
I’m part of the Projects team, which is made up of Business Analysts, Project Managers, and another Software Engineer.
Within our team, we’re responsible for delivering and driving successful Business as Usual (BAU) IT projects. In short, this means working in partnership with the States of Guernsey – from requirements into delivery – so that business objectives and outcomes are achieved.
How did you get into software engineering?
I started coding as part of my Physics degree – we were tasked with using Java to write a physics modelling programme for a particle accelerator.
This experience really opened my eyes to how versatile coding could be, and all the ways in which it could be applied. So, shortly after graduating, I began my career in Software Engineering with the States of Guernsey in 2015.
While the fields may seem unrelated, having a strong background in Physics and Maths has been really useful. Though by no means a requisite for a career in programming, having some understanding of basic mathematical concepts and abilities can be helpful – particularly logic, which helps software engineers to write correct code and understand conditions written by others.
How did you get to where you are now?
Originally, I joined the States of Guernsey as a Software Engineer in October 2015. In November 2019, I transferred into Agilisys along with over 50 colleagues from the States of Guernsey’s Information Systems and Services (ISS) team as part of the establishment of the SMART Guernsey Partnership.
Last month, I was promoted to Senior Software Engineer – so, I’m very excited to see where this next step in my career will take me.
What do you most enjoy about your job and why?
Coding is just one important aspect of our work. Ultimately, we’re focused on delivering solutions and addressing challenges – giving me the opportunity to employ my analytical and problem-solving skills just as much as my technical know-how.
While programming is rooted in logic and rules, coding is a lot more creative than most people think. Programming is really creativity based in logic, enabling people to create great solutions that are both exciting and meaningful.
That for me is the absolute highlight of my job: seeing something that I’ve created go live and start to deliver real improvements for people.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their career in Software Engineering?
The best advice I can give is get coding!
These days, there are countless resources available online to help you learn. It can seem overwhelming with so many different programming languages and technologies out there – but the important thing to know is that you don’t have to know everything.
Software engineering is a field that requires continuous learning as coding can evolve so rapidly. So, get started, learn the fundamentals, gain experience – and keep growing your skills.
What do you like to do when you're not working?
I started going out for walks during lockdown which I’ve really enjoyed. I live near the Island’s west coast so it’s always nice to go out and take in the view. I’m also an avid reader and enjoy playing video games with friends.