Graduand pivots from pre-med to big tech, lands Google job

June 04, 2019

Graduand Maddy Soleimanian is facing a promising career start in software development at Google’s Waterloo, Ontario campus. Yet it’s a career she hadn’t envisioned when she enrolled at SFU seven years ago.

Initially interested in becoming a physician or scientist, Soleimanian chose molecular biology and biochemistry (MBB) as her major. But a single computing science course, required as part of the MBB program, completely changed her trajectory.

“We made a simple game using a programming language called Python and I was amazed at what I could do with just a few lines of code,” she recalls. “It sparked my curiosity and soon, I was completely hooked on computing science.”

This June, she will receive a BASc in computing science.

Though she’s already in Waterloo, Soleimanian plans to watch the livestream of the convocation ceremonies and reminisce about her experience in computing science.

This includes serving as co-president of the Women in Computing Science (WiCS) group. She also co-chaired the organizing committee for the try/CATCH (Computing and Technology Conference for Her) event for high school girls, where she helped to lead coding workshops.

“It was a great feeling to be able to show the girls what they could do with technology and that they can make great developers,” she says.

The School of Computing Science recognized Soleimanian’s contributions with a Women in Computing award in 2018.

She also won scholarships to attend the world’s largest conference of female technologists, the Grace Hopper Celebration, two years in a row. There, she networked with leaders in computing science from across North America while developing programming, leadership and presentation skills.

To hone her job skills she completed almost two years of co-operative education internships, at ICBC and at a big-data start-up.

Now that she has graduated, Soleimanian says, “It wasn’t the most direct path to get here, but I would do my degree the exact same way all over again.

“I always wanted to make an impact in the world, and I’m excited that I’ll still get to do that through technology.”