It’s not surprising Frank Sarnelli joins the list of young professionals who have been named by IBM Power Systems Magazine as a “Fresh Face” to the IBM computing community. Frank has a burning desire to push the boundaries of technology to solve enterprise business problems and meet customer needs.
Frank joined the LANSA Technical Support team in 2014 after graduating from DeVry Technical Institute. He became extremely proficient in working on multiple platforms and displayed the ability to quickly learn new technologies. In June 2017, Frank accepted a new role as the associate solutions consultant. He earned the promotion for his wide-ranging technical skills and ability to communicate clearly and effectively with customers.
I recently sat down with Frank and asked him about his role at LANSA and what it meant to be named a “Fresh Face.”
A: What was your first reaction when you heard you were named a “Fresh Face?”
F: I was excited! It’s pretty cool to share my voice in the IBM community, to be part of and represent the next generation of developers.
A: U.S. News placed Software Developer as the #1 job of 2018. When you chose this career, did you ever envision your skill sets would one day be in such high demand?
F: Actually, yes! Being a small kid when the internet went mainstream in the 90’s, seeing the rise of Facebook, YouTube, Google and Amazon and watching them become the giants that they are today. I knew businesses were going to need a ton of developers to help support the digital world.
A: What’s one of the biggest challenges you feel software developers face today?
F: Time management is never fun, especially with the web being as complicated as it is today. It’s difficult to grow and adapt your skills sets to the ever-expanding number of toolkits, languages and technologies that we’re expected to know and support. Finally, outsourcing and AI. How to also keep your skills up-to-date and increasingly valuable in these areas to meet new business requirements.
A: In the time you’ve spent at LANSA, have you observed any trends when it comes to web and mobile app development?
F: Yes. Funny that you asked about web and mobile app development. The trend I’m seeing is those two being one in the same. What I mean is, there will no longer be a dividing line between desktop/tablet/phone nor the bickering between web vs native mobile app development because it will all be the same. For example, Google is pushing this notion for progressive web apps (PWA’s). The concept behind them is to have web apps run offline and be app-like in responsiveness. In a nutshell, if it looks like an app and feels like an app it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an app anymore. It could be a web page! As a result, the user experience is becoming more and more compelling. These intuitive and productive apps can streamline manual processes like never before.
A: Is there one aspect of your job that’s surprised you the most?
F: Yes, being in support and now in a “solutions consulting” role, it’s fascinating to me that new and existing customers share most of the same challenges. For example, they may have trouble seeing data on server A and server B at the same time. I also hear “pain” when it comes to existing processes being too slow and many need better-optimized workflows. They may have a desktop app, but no mobile app for their field employees.
Another “surprise” is how being part of the low-code movement has changed my attitude on what’s important – not only for my company but for my resume as well. I used to be worried about how many languages and three letter acronyms appeared on my resume. Now, rather, I’m able to list all of my accomplishments delivering applications on multiple server platforms (cloud and on-prem), leveraging a variety of user interfaces and form factors, while accessing many different databases.
A: What advice do you have for computer science undergraduates that will one day be entering the job market?
F: Don’t get comfortable. Tech is constantly on the move, that means you should continuously enhance your skill set and sharpen what you currently know. It’s important not to attach yourself to a specific development language because 1) you may pigeonhole yourself as a “they can only work on this one task” person and 2) it could become obsolete. You need to make yourself invaluable to the company by being able to work on every aspect of an application. If you do this, you won’t need to worry about resume building because they will never let you leave.
A: Any parting words of wisdom?
F: Keep your head in the cloud and get involved with AI as takes over the world! Be part of the movement!