Maverick Alumni Series Featuring Lindsay Azarbod, Senior Software Developer at DuPont Pioneer
This week's spotlight is on Minnesota State University Mankato Maverick alum Lindsay Azarbod of the Crop Genetics Informatics department at DuPont Pioneer. Lindsay develops desktop applications for scientists around the world to view and enter genetic and phenotypic traits from the crops that are bred.
What company's have you worked for and what types of projects and technologies have you worked on since graduation?
I am a senior software developer and have been working for DuPont Pioneer since graduating in 2012. I work in our Crop Genetics Informatics department where we use technologies such as .NET, C#, SQLServer, BerkeleyDB, WPF, Entity Framework, NUnit, DevExpress, DirectX, Team Foundation Server, Mercurial, and Visual Studio to create desktop applications for scientists around the world to view and enter genetic and phenotypic traits from the crops they breed. They also use some of the applications to analyze and make predictions on how the crops will perform. One of my favorite parts of my job is implementing different data visualization solutions. I have had the privilege of hearing directly from the users how the work I've done saves them time doing their job.
How does the type of work you are doing now compare to the work you did at Maverick Software Consulting?
While there are many small differences between what I do now and what I did as a software engineer intern at Maverick Software Consulting, it’s really quite similar. At Maverick, I worked with a team of test engineers at Thomson Reuters developing automated tests in Java, using tools like Selenium, Eclipse, JUnit, TFS, and SQLDeveloper. Today, at Pioneer, I use similar tools--C#, Visual Studio, NUnit, TFS, and AquaData Studio. My focus is a little different because I do development on applications, but I still do some testing as I unit test my code.
The day-to-day is also similar. I come in and check my email, deal with anything urgent, meet with my team for our daily stand up where I answer the same questions I answered in my daily status update as an intern and then get to work and attend the occasional meeting.
How has working for Maverick prepared you for the full time work force?
Working for Maverick gave me experience in jumping into real, large-code bases and working with source control (the same one I use every day in my full time position, in fact). I gained skills and confidence working with professionals who provided me with valuable work to do. I was able to work on a few different projects, types of testing and tools over my two and a half years working for Maverick. Because I had more than just the typical summer internship doing a side project and was actually doing real work on a real team, I gained a lot of quality experience and knowledge. Because of that, I was able to get up-to-speed very quickly in my full time position.
I was also able to bring some of my knowledge of writing automated tests as an intern to my new, full-time team as that wasn't being done widely in the department at that time.
On another note, Maverick hires students who are ambitious and want to learn. I was surrounded by smart people with great attitudes every day in the office, and I think that did nearly as much for setting me up for success as all of the technical skills I gained in my time there.
What skills do you use most often in your current job?
Can I say all of them? Communication skills are equally as important as technical skills. In addition to other developers, I work closely with a requirements analyst and a test analyst when adding new functionality, so listening and understanding what is asked of me is really important. It helps to “think like a tester” when it comes to development and that is something I learned while working at Maverick.
What advice would you give to students currently working for Maverick?
Ask questions, make connections, soak up as much information and knowledge as you can, have fun, and keep bugging your boss for a mini-donut machine!
What are your future plans and goals that relate to your career and/or technology?
I have interests all over the place in technology, and I’d really like to explore all of them a little more. Some of those interests include game development, user experience, and brain-computer interfaces as well as teaching and mentoring others. I want to be able to use my technical skills to help people in need.
In the near future, I’m planning to get involved in a program called HyperStream where I will be a mentor for middle school students interested in technology and participate in robotics and application development competitions with other students their age.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the tech industry over the next 5 years?
I always hear the biggest challenge facing the tech industry is finding enough qualified workers. That’s why a program like Maverick Software Consulting is so important. It’s a win-win for companies and students.