Charlotte Knowles, Software Engineer

Job Title: Software Engineer

Charlotte is a graduate of the University of Leeds, who have kindly granted permission to reproduce her profile here.

How did you become a software engineer?
I just fell into it, if I’m honest. I didn’t have a clue when I finished Maths what to do, so I thought I’d do a computing MSc. Even though I wasn’t particularly interested in computers, I enjoyed a course in my fourth year that was basically to do with a theoretical programming language. I also saw the salaries that programmers could get at that time (which seemed to evaporate as soon as I started applying).

Did having a Mathematics degree help?
Yes. Employers like “pure” degrees. They also know that people who do mathematics have a particular type of brain: good analysis skills; very particular about detail and general worriers – just the sort of person you need to keep your business on track! Every business needs a mixture of worriers and dreamers.

What particular elements have you found most useful as a software engineer?
Maths is an excellent basis for being a software engineer. If you loved maths, then chances are you will like programming. In terms of work ethic, however, being an undergraduate is nothing like the real world. I would kill to go back and be a student again. You don’t realise how easy it is until your first job. You can’t hand work in late, it does matter if you can’t solve a problem and you have nobody to copy lecture notes from if you are too lazy to get out of bed!

And the highlights of your job?
It’s a great company to work for. Lots of geeky people who want to get on and produce something!

As a director, you are an employer yourself now – do you think a degree in mathematics is of value to employers?
Definitely. I do most of the recruiting in our company, especially for programmers. Someone with a mathematics degree always catches my eye. I’ll be honest though – I still place great emphasis on someone’s A levels.

And finally – what memories of social life at Leeds do you remember?
My social life was probably a little too good. I do wish I had socialised a little less and studied a little harder. I don’t think I got the balance right. There was always this ridiculous myth amongst the more sociable students at Leeds that employers would rather a student had a 2:1 than a First because it showed that they had a good balance of work and play. As an employer I now know this is utter rubbish! If someone has a First, then it definitely makes me more interested, especially from a university that is not in the “Top Five”.