Monday, June 1, 2020

An expansive view of back-end engineering

Originally written for an introduction email/cover letter, this ran well over blog length. I moved it here and aggressively edited the email. The email is still way too long. I get loquacious when I'm passionate and excited.
Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
-- Blaise Pascal

I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.
-- Mark Twain

I, Engineer:

I am an excellent back-end Sr. Engineer experienced in a range of start-up sizes and domains. I enjoy digging into problems of scale and expanding a working system for the next 10x.

Back-end engineering requires systemic thinking and knowledge across a wide spectrum. These range from system design to production facing development to monitoring and metrics for support to data extraction and analysis to ops. I understand the big picture and also love to dig into the technical details and implementation. I build on my background as an Electrical Engineer and am happy to discuss anything in the the stack down to the metal ... oxide in the gates of the chips.

I am comfortable and extensively experienced with all the pieces of a well run system:

  • micro and macro service development including analysis of effectiveness and efficiency. A polyglot, most recently using Python.
  • Extracting loosely coupled services from a monolith.
  • metrics, monitoring and alerts to track and improve the health of the system.
  • RDBMS schema design with table and query optimization.
  • Trade offs in design and implementation of nosql cache and secondary stores.
  • Code lifetime tracking and shared ownership and support.
  • Extracting and exporting data, reporting, building a pipeline into reporting stores from OLAP to data lakes.
  • ops from provisioning raw metal to EC2 to docker image and containers.

I care deeply about removing accidental complexity and the resulting friction. Improving overall velocity and trust in the system through investments in tests, logs, monitoring and metrics. Instituting shared code ownership through testing, reviews, documentation and knowledge transfer with clear paths and branching from development, staging, QA, and production. Building a culture of continuous learning and exploration, where we all improve.

I was asked last week, "What is my dev super power?" In the moment, I said, "modesty," which is quite a pivot from the required interview energy of "I AM SO GREAT!" to humility and empathy. I listen and learn. I am kind and effusive when people come to me with questions and work together to find answers, and show how to seek further answers. I want to help everyone around me so we can all do more. I earn respect from my peers both through technical excellence and deep domain knowledge but also from consistency of character, respect and care. I invite you to reach out to my friends and coworkers to hear their opinions of my personality and character, ask for an anecdote of working together formally or informally.

There are so many "I" statements here. I am more interested in "we." I join early stage start-ups and small companies where I have the leverage to influence and expand "we." I excel at intra-team and inter-team communication, at finding and filling the cracks in the path from customer need to customer success. Building "we" in dev means realizing it is "we" not "they" with product, qa and ops, management, executives and the customer. Camaraderie is built upon mentoring, training and learning, shared purpose and unified direction. "We" also includes sharing with the community outside our walls. This is why I run and attend meet-ups, speak and conferences and volunteer with open source. This is an responsibility and obligation as a senior member of the community, to reach back and help more people climb into our club

I have the underlying fundamental skills in linux, git, apache/nginx, wsgi, postgres, mongo, elastic, memcache, redis, riak, rabbitmq and kafka, and a wide array of amazon: EC2, S3, RDS, EMR, dynamodb, sqs/sns/kinesis, redshift, athena, and etc.

A pleasure to make your acquaintance.



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