Tignis Internship Q&A with Duke Technology Scholar Anju Sekar

November 1st, 2022  Author: Tignis   Category: Employee Spotlight

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SEATTLE, Wash., November 1, 2022 – The Duke Technology Scholars Program (DTech) is a comprehensive effort to empower the next generation of diverse leaders who will bring increased innovation to the tech industry. The program centers around the idea that community, mentorship and hands-on experience make the difference in recruiting and retaining under-represented people in technology fields. Through DTech, undergraduate students and alumni find the support, inspiration, community, and mentorship needed to succeed in technology fields, and then pay it forward by investing in others.

According to Amy Arnold, Executive Director of DTech, the program includes more than 450 students studying computer science and/or engineering at Duke.  In addition to students, they have an equal number of alumni working in software engineering, product management, and data science roles.  Seattle has become a destination of choice for many of these talented young women. Last summer, 75 of them worked at Seattle tech companies either as interns or in full-time positions.  Anju Sekar joined Tignis as a summer intern.

Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Anju Sekar and I’m from Phoenix, Arizona.  I’m a proud member of the DTech program and currently a junior at Duke University majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Statistics.  My academic passions include technical product management, data science, edtech, ethical tech, and femtech. Outside of technology, I’m also interested in strategy and business analytics, education, applied math, behavioral economics, public policy, and child policy research.

Tell us about your background in engineering/computer science. What is your major and why did you pick it?

Coming into college I didn’t have much experience in computer science but after taking an introductory course my first semester, I decided this was the right fit for my future career path.  Once I committed to this major, I searched out organizations and clubs to join that would open me to more computer science experience and learning. One such club was DAML (Duke Applied Machine Learning). Through DAML, I explored the different tracks available including software engineering, data science, and product management. I ended up finding interest in all three, especially product management, which is a professional track I plan to pursue in the future.

Can you tell us a bit about the Duke DTech program, and how you got involved?

DTech is an organization at Duke that helps women-identifying individuals find summer internships. They provide a variety of resources and opportunities which include resume workshops, coffee chats with recruiters, interview prep, career fair prep, and much more. I joined DTech as a member my freshman year and took on a leadership role this past summer as the co-lead/product manager of the PrepTogether program. PrepTogether is a virtual summer program created by DTech that matches you with a group and provides you weekly resources to teach you how to answer specific interview questions for the professional track that you decide on.

What made you want to intern at Tignis?  

It was the innovative technology, company culture and match to my future career goals that made me choose Tignis for my summer internship.  When I was researching the company and what they did, I saw a lot of different projects I already had interest in and discovered new aspects of the project from which I knew I could learn and gain experience. 

One example is Tignis’ PAICe Builder, which collects data and then uses this data to improve efficiency and speed for different pieces of equipment and software. This was similar to a project I did for the Duke Office of Information Technology that I found interesting and therefore I saw the opportunity to contribute in a useful manner. I knew this prior experience and interest would save me time getting up to speed and allow me to focus on in-depth learning to attain my ultimate goal for the internship which was to be able to dive right in in a more hands-on way. 

What did you learn during your time at Tignis? 

On the product management side I learned how to write product specs, requirements docs, and how to make revisions based on multiple rounds of feedback. On the design and implementation side I learned how to make API specs, take advantage of Redux, and create the user interface flow. 

More than all of this, however, I learned about how a company should value their employees as humans first, developers second. While working at Tignis, I discovered how much they truly value mental health and well-being. Whether it was Workout Wednesday, Toning Tuesday, time spent doing virtual social activities, Fifth Friday, Lunch and Learn, or farewell presentations; I always knew Tignis would support me in this aspect and showed me what I should prioritize in the future when deciding on a position and employer.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment to date is definitely what I created during my time at Tignis this summer. I got the opportunity to build a historical alerts data summary panel that displays information about the wafers, which was found to be beneficial and useful to the end users. I was able to work on all parts of the project from the product idea and feature design, to the user interface, implementation and a final presentation to the team.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years, and how do you think this experience will help you get there?

In 10 years, I’ll be 30 and see myself working as an upper level product manager at a company of any size. Hopefully, I’ll have also gotten my MBA by then. I want to work on a product that is revolutionary as well as something unique to the market. I want this to be something that will both benefit and serve the greater community as well as make a difference in the world. My hope is to be able to see the impact of the product in a tangible manner. Additionally, I want to have created something (startup or otherwise) that fulfills my own personal passions.  My ultimate dream one day is to be the CEO of my own startup company. 

A closing word from Tignis’ UI/UX Manager, Brady Mauermann-Peterson 

When Anju joined Tignis for the summer, she jumped straight into a whirlwind of activity  preparation for beta, technology changes, design changes, and more.  She didn’t have experience with our technology, but did that stop her? Absolutely not! Before the internship had even begun, Anju was seeking out reference material on our tech stack which was the first sign that we found someone with a bright future. Anju consistently did well in her desire to take in the entire development process and to make something genuinely useful for our customers.  Over the course of the internship, I watched Anju seek out feedback and actively use that feedback to grow and improve. We have no doubt that she has the attitude and skill of a successful developer, and will be able to make her startup dreams come true!