Software engineers are some of the most in-demand folks in the world. They’re armed with computer science or electrical engineering degrees and excellent mathematics skills — necessities if you’re going to be writing all the complex algorithms needed to build software programmes.

A lifetime of building programmes and creating amazing user experiences can also be inspiring and rewarding.

We chatted with Matthew Talma, software engineer at online gaming company KIXEYE — and a St. Anthony’s College alum — to find out more about one of today’s most lucrative computer careers.

Why software engineering? Heck, why tech in the first place?

MT: From a young age, I loved to build things. However, I always was disappointed when I started on a new project because I often didn’t have the right tool or material to complete it or even start it. Computers gave me everything I needed in one small package; it was perfect. I also love giving users an unforgettable experience. That can be anything from a great user experience to mind-blowing effects in a game.

You’re a software engineer at KIXEYE right now, an online gaming company based in San Francisco. How’d you end up there?

MT: When I was 15, I began teaching myself to program with the intent to make games. I loved that game developers had the ability to create worlds from their minds. They had the ability to craft an experience for a player. During my Computer Science and Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Virginia, I enrolled in a 3D game engine design class where the final project was to design a game engine — a software framework used to develop video games. Our team was able to design a pretty feature-complete game. The professor was so impressed that he showed our project to Electronic Arts (EA). They flew me to San Francisco and I was able to interview with them. After college, I accepted a job there.

What aspect of software engineering do you enjoy the most? What makes what you do amazing?

MT: The Internet is a mass distribution/interconnect tool like we have never seen before. It has given us the ability to change the world — for better or worse. Software engineering is exciting because we’re solving problems on this frontier. And technology is advancing so quickly that you are given new tools every day to help you do amazing work.

What’s it like working in Silicon Valley? (Do you work in Silicon Valley? Or did we get that wrong?)

MT: Good question. Technically, San Francisco may not be considered part of the valley. (That’s south of the city.) However, the tech scene is most intense in the city, in my opinion. It’s great being around so many smart people who are all so passionate about what they’re working on. I truly believe that everyone wakes up in the morning and goes to work thinking that he/she is going to change the world. The frenetic energy and the sense of purpose is almost palpable.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into gaming or software engineering, or the tech industry in general?

MT: Make sure it’s something you really are passionate about doing. In general, find out where your passion intersects with your purpose. Then do that.

Matthew Talma is currently living and working in San Francisco, weightlifting next to Jony Ive — Apple’s Senior VP of Design — and eating all of KIXEYE’s free snacks. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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