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AltaML's 30 and Under Spotlight

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Written By: AltaML
Published: May 17, 2023     

The tech industry saw a surge in employment of almost 30% between 2021 and 2022, according to the CompTIA Tech Jobs Report. With millennials making up the largest percentage of the labour force and Generation Z spearheading the first sustained growth for teenage employment in decades, it is evident that young professionals are making significant contributions to the industry.

AltaML sat down with four team members under the age of 30 to learn more about their career journey and gain insight for future job seekers.

From left to right, we spoke to:

  • Kelsea Zalaski - Program Manager, GovLab 
  • Pranav Jha - Program Manager, Applied AI Lab
  • Sean Flynn - Senior Manager, Business Development 
  • Austin Goebel - Software Developer

What's Your Educational Background?

Kelsea: My undergraduate degree is in human resource management, and I've recently completed an MBA, both from the University of Alberta.

Pranav: I went to the Alberta School of Business and majored in finance.

Sean: I attended a small french immersion school for kindergarten through grade nine in Edmonton. I think there were about 125 kids in the junior high. An interesting thing about this relatively small junior high is, from the 25 to 30 kids I finished grade nine with, there is a disproportionately high number of lawyers, doctors, masters and PhDs – and then there's me, with a Bachelor of Commerce. I attended St. Francis Xavier for high school, followed by MacEwan University where I completed my Bachelor of Commerce with a minor in management.

Austin: I graduated with a computing science specialization degree from the University of Alberta in 2020.

What's the Best Part About Working at AltaML?

Kelsea: I absolutely love that we get to work on projects across domains and industries at AltaML, meaning that there are infinite learning opportunities. Through my time here, I've gotten to work alongside industry experts in everything from banking to forestry to help them apply AI solutions.

Pranav: The people that work with you are incredibly smart, innovative, and diverse. I've never met such a community of thinkers that are constantly trying to push the envelope in everything they do.

Sean: I like the timing we are at in this AI/ML market. It's very exciting where things could go. I like the office space, the people, and the energy. 

Austin: As a software developer, the level of development autonomy I have at AltaML is super rare. I get to work on a variety of projects related to topics I enjoy and constantly get to experiment with new technologies.

What’s a Hidden Talent of Yours?

Kelsea: I love to dance and have been part of a dance group for the last few years.

Pranav: I’m not sure if this is a talent, but I am very good at improvising on the spot.

Sean: I can whistle four different ways.

Austin: I’m a huge soccer fan and I’ve been playing my whole life!

If You Could Go Back in Time, What Advice Would you Give to Yourself at 19 Years Old? 

Kelsea: Don't take things so seriously. At 19, I was incredibly focused on making the right choices that would progress me to the right next steps. My experience hasn't been that linear. Trying again when you are unsuccessful for the things you want and moving towards what feels right to you rather than what you perceive as right have both helped me much more than progressing on the set path I had at 19.

Pranav: If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you are going to get a haircut.

Sean: Make sure you go back to university. Being 18 to 19 shaped a lot of me – one of my best friends passed away as a result of drunk driving while I was on the other side of the world backpacking in southeast Asia. I took a gap year between high school and university, and I wasn't sure if I was going to go back to school. I’d tell myself to enjoy every minute of your early 20s while in university: play all the sports you can while you still can. Start doing yoga sooner; your knees and back will thank you later. Invest your money wiser. 

Austin: Build stuff! The best way to learn and grow as a developer is to throw yourself into new technologies and build something with them. At this stage, it’s less about the subject of your project and more about the process and experience.

What Are Three Tips You Would Give for Being Successful Early On? 


  1. Take time to build relationships with the people around you. The world of work is small, and friends will also make work a lot more enjoyable.
  2. Take time to do the things you love to do in your off time. It will give you more energy for the tough days. 
  3. Be open to opportunities that come your way. Some of the best changes you'll make you can't plan for.


  1. Raise your hand for opportunities that scare you and are challenging.
  2. Take the time to build authentic connections with your colleagues. 
  3. Energy management is more important than time management.


  1. Diversify your experiences and skills. Try everything to understand where your strengths and enjoyments are.
  2. Speak up and speak your mind; add value to discussions – both internally and with clients.
  3.  Find mentor(s)/coach(es).


  1. It’s important to challenge yourself and fail often. To be an expert in any field, you’ve got to put your ego aside and accept the learnings, frustrations, and failures that will come as you evolve from a beginner.
  2. Document everything you do for your future self. Having a repository of your own learnings and experiences can be helpful when starting new projects and brainstorming new ideas.
  3. There’s no such thing as multitasking. Two hours of quiet, focused work is more helpful than eight hours of distracted work.

Want to build your career in tech? Interested in using your skills to elevate human potential with applied AI? Discover AltaML’s open positions!

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