A Day in the Life with a Principal Software Engineer

At CIS, we have a team of our experts working with a global community of cybersecurity professionals. Together, they help develop tools and resources that safeguard private and public organizations against cyber threats. We collaborate on CIS WorkBench, our community platform that enables us to develop secure configuration guidelines for specific technologies and continuously improve our set of cybersecurity best practices. Learn more about Brandi, one of the engineers that help to develop and maintain the platform.

Please share a brief overview of what you do as a Principal Software Engineer

As part of the CIS Workbench team, I work on developing and maintaining the community website where the CIS Benchmarks™ and CIS Controls™ are built. My team works closely to share knowledge, maintain coding standards, and improve the website. We also coordinate with the CIS WorkBench Product Owner and other teams to design and develop new features and enhancements to existing functionality. I make sure my code is fully tested and matches our coding standards to increase CIS WorkBench’s reliability and maintainability.

How long have you worked at CIS?

Almost 3 years

What education/background do you have that helped you get your position at CIS?

I started working on websites in high school, which directly led to summer positions maintaining a Fortune 500 intranet website. For undergrad, I studied graphic design and computer science. After college, I continued building and maintaining websites before going back to school for a Masters in Interactive Technology (video games). While working in the video games industry, I became more interested in the back-end scripting/coding with logic and data manipulation.  During my maternity sabbatical, I completed online web development boot camps/certifications to refresh my website development skills and learn about modern frameworks.

What are 5 daily tasks you do as a Principal Software Engineer?

  1. Write tests for my code and make sure they pass
  2. Communicate with my team. We mostly work remote, so communication is key!
  3. Check our Jira scrum board to see the tasks my team is working on. and what needs to be worked on. Also, to find additional information for the task I’m currently working on
  4. Learn something new – either about the framework or language I’m working in, or, learning more about server or database operations and management.
  5. Code, code, code.

What is your favorite part about being a Principal Software Engineer?

I have two answers for this:

  1. Learning something new and applying it to solve a problem. It can be frustrating to get stuck solving a new or difficult issue. That just makes it all the more satisfying to finally figure it out.
  2. My team. We get along really well and we are constantly learning from each other. It’s a great dynamic.

What advice would you give a prospective Principal Software Engineer?

Google and Stack Overflow are your friends. Don’t feel like you should have everything committed to memory.

If you could describe your job in 3 words, what would they be?

Creative. Fun. Challenging.

What is a skill or habit that has helped you in your current role?

Being Agile. 😀 You have to be open to constant change. Whether it’s the changing needs of the customers, changing the focus of the team, or changes to the language and best practices. Being able to adapt and keep moving forward is vital.

What has surprised you about this position?

Starting over was easier than I thought. I came to CIS after an extended maternity leave and a career change. Before I started, I didn’t think about how the soft skills from my previous career, or my newer priority and time management skills from being a mom of two toddlers, would be so helpful in the everyday aspect of being a programmer.

How would you describe the company culture?

Whether it’s encouraging us to improve ourselves through professional development or offering ways to maintain a healthy work/life balance and overall wellness, CIS is deeply committed to the happiness of its employees.