Three Minutes with Lynn Mrsny Griffis

Lynn Mrsny Griffis is originally from Norfolk, Nebraska. She started her Scott Scholarship in 1997 as part of the first Scott Scholar class. She graduated from PKI in 2001 with a major in Computer Science and also holds a Master’s in Management Information Systems. She is currently in Omaha affiliated with Aviture. Contact her via Facebook.

It was a great education. Senior level classes were a lot more challenging. You’re meeting a lot of professors. I do like the relationships that I was able to build while I was there. I did a lot of the Business Seminar Series events. You got to ask questions early on to some of the people already in the industry, the business leaders, to have that kind of casual conversation and get a feel for it.

Early on, the Scott Scholarship group was pretty small. Almost everyone was in computer science, so you saw everybody in your classes. Group projects were nice. You had other people who were driven and good students.

We didn’t have the dorm life. PKI wasn’t even there. We attended the ceremony for the opening of PKI; that was a neat event. We all just lived in apartments. It was a little different as far as socializing.

Most of us got internships that first year or second year. Everybody was taking advantage and doing well. I got an internship with Lucent, now Avaya, and I worked there even after I graduated. I think that the balance between the education and learning the business side was such a huge key for me.

It’s not necessarily bad to get experience doing a lot of different things. I’ve worked for three large companies: Lockheed Martin, Union Pacific, and Lucent. It’s just been nice to get the different experience in the different industries. All have been doing the same sort of programming and web development with Java. It’s the business knowledge in each industry that is really interesting to see how the technologies are applied.

Recently, I’m working for Aviture, a software consulting company, that provides services on various DoD contracts. I provide architecture support and software development, having done some of the business development in the past, here in Omaha and out in DC, for our different Air Force and Army contracts. I like the DoD work. It’s really nice, really interesting, a good challenge. During my time with Aviture, we have gone from doing just software development and architecture support on DoD projects, to partnering with local high schools in the community to help shape the curriculum for and teach computer science courses, as well as position ourselves to be a more product-focused company. Seeing this take shape and being part of a company like this has been great.

Most recently, I’ve been staying home with our daughter that just turned one year old! She is my most rewarding “job” to date.

I like Java. I started out doing web applications with ASP pages. That was OK. About a year and a half later, I got more into Java development, focusing on front-end development. Java is so widely used across software development. I wouldn’t see myself doing anything other than that. There’re so many scripting languages that can plug-in and frameworks that you can use. There’s more than plenty to do with the language.

If it’s not usable, it’s not good. As we code, especially with early prototypes and designs, we’re always showing that to the customer. We have early sessions with the customer and other members of the team to make sure the front-end is usable, desirable, and adheres to our standards.

We run an adapted process. It’s in between, taking on pieces of Agile and its more rapid releases. It’s definitely different than what the government is used to with their software development cycles. At UP – that was pure Agile. But with DoD it’s recognizing a need to be more Agile. I don’t know if it will get there, just with the heavy process that you need, the CMMI Level 5. The processes must be followed, the documents must be produced, but it’s kind of governed between the government and the contractors.

Your career is not just to sit down and do your job. When you start with a new company, learn as much as you can about the business because that always seemed to help me everywhere I went. You could be coding right along anyone else, but if you’ve had more domain knowledge or business knowledge, you were kind of the go-to person because you could provide more than just somebody who was just developing.

Software development-wise, that’s really easy to transition. That’s what keeps it balanced as you go. The domain knowledge, that’s the toughest part. Your technical skills, they’re always there. You’re always building on those. You’re going to grow as you work at different positions or different roles within a company, or even as you change companies. I liked how you could see one thing somewhere and how you could apply that to another thing somewhere else.

Don’t stop learning. Research stuff on the web, read about the newer technologies, download and play with new frameworks or toolkits. Learn the domain that you’re working in. Learn as much as you can about the business, and excel in what you do. You’ll be surprised in how many opportunities you’ll be presented with.

Find this and other interviews of Scott Scholar Alumni at ScottScholarAlumni.org. If you’d like to be featured in an upcoming interview, have a request to hear about someone else, or just have any other comments or suggestions, please contact Kyle Hoback.

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