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What Does a Botanist Do in IT?

To get into IT, it is not necessary to program — this is once again illustrated by the story of Julia Omelchenko. A biologist by education, Julia always dreamed of benefiting people with her work, and now she is the resident botany expert for the NatureID app. To learn a bit about Julia's responsibilities, and for ideas about how to find your dream job, read our Anywhere Club blog.

Julia Omelchenko


How it all began

— I have loved nature since I was a child. I read encyclopedias and loved going to the zoo and the botanical garden. I had violets and a cactus. I even grew a lemon tree from a single seed. Our biology lessons at school were really interesting, and we did a lot of experiments. We looked at fragments of plant tissues, for example, and microorganisms in a drop of aquarium water. That's how my passion for studying how microorganisms work took root. Once you delve into the world of biology, you start to notice fascinating things around you that people don't usually pay attention to. It was during my school years that I realized I wanted to devote my life to biology.

Why did I decide to pursue botany, the study of plants? They are unusual. All nature is amazing, and every species, every organism, is unique. But animals and people are similar, if you delve into their physiology and biochemical processes; and plants are very different from us.

I entered the university, Department of Biophysics and Bioinformatics, then worked at the Plant Allelopathy Laboratory. In addition, I had an internship at the Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics. And then I decided to change the work, because I wanted to move forward, study and learn something new.

I have always been interested in the possibility of combining botany and the IT technologies that interest me in a way that is interesting, modern, and beneficial; that helps to solve people’s problems.

What does a botanist do in IT

— It's been a year since I've been in IT. I work as a botanist at AIBY, a company that develops mobile lifestyle apps using AI. Initially, I posted my resume on a job search site. A recruiter contacted me and told me about a botanist job in an IT company. I was interested in the position because it exactly met my goal - work at the intersection of botany and IT. So, I started working with the NatureID application, which recognizes plant species, helps to identify their possible diseases from a photo, and gives recommendations for care. When a user wants to get more in-depth information, they can get advice from an expert, which I am. These requests can cover a range of completely different topics: how to cure a plant with fungal diseases, how to get rid of pests, or how best to choose the care that suits a particular plant.

Now, in addition to consulting, I help the content department prepare guide articles for sections of the application, and write expert comments on plant care for the media.

Sometimes I am also involved in the creation of new functionality for the application. I was recently creating a large information base about growing conditions for various types of plants, for example, for a new feature.

Features of working in IT

— At first, my IT job was strange for me, since I’ve never worked in the IT sphere before. There were unfamiliar terms and programs like Jira, and it was necessary to understand the specifics of mobile development. Thanks to my friendly team, though, I quickly got used to the work process.

Now, I really enjoy it. I like that we’re bringing together plant physiology, which interests me, and modern technologies. And we have a wonderful team. Flexible hours and remote work are undoubtedly a big advantage as well.

I had never seen a demand for botanists in IT before this position, and I couldn’t even imagine that someday I would work in IT as a professional botanist.

What to do to get into IT

— It’s important to improve your knowledge and skills, and be open to new things. There are so many different products now. The IT sphere is developing rapidly, so your experience, even if it’s not IT-related, can be useful.

If you want to get into IT, study the market and look for specialized applications where your experience may be relevant. Pay attention to content apps: there are many projects related to medicine, a healthy lifestyle, and learning foreign languages.

Monitor vacancies, study an app you like, and tell the company that develops it that you have just the right background and would like to become part of their team.

The Anywhere Club blog will continue to talk about interesting professions in IT, but for now, we invite you to join our Discord community and discuss exciting topics.

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