Data engineer Klaudia has been at Intergiro for over a year, and values the trusting and flexible work environment.
Can you briefly share what it is that you do?
Essentially I do everything that has to do with data. I always joke that my role is moving data from one place to another. But to add more detail, we are building a data warehouse, which means I bring in data that could be of interest to other people within Intergiro. I pull this data from different sources: our internal app, the website, and other third-party tools that we use to interact with customers or collect other statistics. I put all of this in one place, and I make sure everything is readable and understandable for others. This data is then shared with teams so that they can make good decisions based on it, and so our C-level people can see how the business is doing. Once this data is brought into the warehouse I monitor it, ensuring that all processes work correctly and that we are not missing any data.
Can you tell me about your background?
Well, my career path is interesting and it’s changed a lot. Since I was a little kid, I liked solving puzzles, including maths puzzles in primary school. This is mainly thanks to my parents, who are both mathematicians. Plus my dad has been teaching IT at one of the best universities in Poland for more than 20 years, so you could say it’s in my genes, in my DNA. But around middle school, it got tricky. I had really poor teachers and I figured that IT and computer science, it’s just not for me. I’m no good at it, so I’m never going to do it.
And so, at first, I chose accounting as my major in university, and my first years on the job market were in this field. I liked it initially, but then it became repetitive and I realised it wasn’t for me, and I noticed there were some teams where people were writing SQL queries. It wasn’t very technical, but they needed to solve more complex problems. At that point I chose a different major for my graduate work, and I obtained a master’s degree in Big Data.
After that I luckily got my first job where I could write SQL queries and solve actual data problems myself. It wasn’t as technical as what I’m doing now, I wasn’t fully immersed in the ‘data engineer’ aspects just yet, but it was related. After two years, I realised that it was a good direction for me, but the particular role had become a bit too easy and I needed something more. I wanted to learn programming and more sophisticated software and solve bigger problems. And that brings us here, where I now have around three years’ experience in data engineering.
And now it seems that this is it. I’m not looking for anything else, I want to become better and better at this role.
How has your career developed since joining Intergiro?
Officially I’m in the same role as when I started, but lots has changed. For sure I have learned a lot of new software, which has been especially valuable as I learned it from scratch. I started using it by myself without any kind of review from other people, so I needed to do it well. It was a great challenge. An example of such software is Apache Airflow. It’s quite complex and pretty common in the data engineering world, so it’s great that I’ve had a chance to learn it.
There’s another aspect. In the past year, I’ve started to look at the big picture more. In my previous positions, I mainly felt that I was part of a team that has a way of doing something and I was just participating. Now, it’s more like this is my playground, and I need to do it well. If I mess something up, I’m going to be the one who’s going to bear the consequences and have to fix it. So now I always need to think through how I'm going to structure the work I do so that it’s resilient, so that it doesn’t break, and so that something more can be built on top of it in the future.
In short, I am becoming more and more independent. I work without much colleague review now, and I’m more focused on proving that what I’m building and providing for the company is it, and that what I create is properly built and useful.
What does an average day look like for you?
I don’t know if there are normal, average days when it comes to the type of tasks that I’m solving, so I’ll discuss my habits more generally.
Typically I log into Slack around 10 in the morning. Sometimes I start work earlier, I just don’t log into Slack yet to avoid being disturbed by any message while I’m writing code. A part of my daily tasks is to take care of our data warehouse, meaning I check that there weren’t any failures during the night, since we have all kinds of processes scheduled to run 24/7. Besides that, another part is developing new stuff. For example I bring in data from new data sources, or refactor some parts of the code.
Typically, I try to complete the hardest work by 2 in the afternoon. I know that my brain works the best in these hours, in the early morning and somewhere up to 2 o’clock, so if I need to solve some easier problems, I try to save them for when I’m going to be a bit tired and I know it’s not going to cost me so much energy.
Sometimes when I have a huge problem to solve and I don’t even know where to start, I close the computer and go for a run. After a run, something almost always comes to my mind. Maybe it’s not the entire solution, but I’ll be able to continue somehow.
What are your favourite aspects of your role?
My favourite thing is when I find a bug somewhere that almost seems like it’s impossible, when I’m suddenly surprised by the behaviour of some piece of code. Like, how is it possible that this or that is happening? I like these moments the most, because I know I’m going to discover something unusual, something that I missed before. I’m always sure that I got the best solution, so if something isn’t working, it’s really fascinating and I can spend lots of time looking for this gap and to understand why this happens.
And of working for Intergiro?
My favourite part of working for Intergiro is the people. I realised after working at several companies that it’s not about what the business does, nor the benefits nor the budget for this or that, it’s always about people. And mostly about the people who you are going to work most closely with. Right now I know I can trust my colleagues, and I can feel that they trust me. The atmosphere is really good. Even if we have a seemingly meaningless small talk, it’s always so pleasant to talk to them. This is the best part of working here.
But there’s another aspect, which is the flexibility. I can work from home, I can work from basically wherever I want. I can work different hours. If I’m an early bird, I can work in the early morning. If I need to go on a run in the middle of the day, I can. I don’t have to just sit in front of the computer during some strict hours and just be there regardless of whether I have something to do or not, or how I'm feeling at that particular moment.
What motivates and inspires your work?
Part of the motivation is that I generally treat what I do as a kind of gym for my brain. I always try to balance the various aspects of my life, whether that’s physical activities, artistic pursuits, or my religious or spiritual life. So I simply treat my job as a part of what everyday life should consist of. I truly want to develop these skills, these analytical thinking skills, so that’s definitely a good motivator for me.
From a more specific company perspective, it would again be the people. I know they trust me, and I don’t want this trust to disappear so I do my best to deliver what they need. What else can I say? I feel good here. I don’t think there’s been any situation where my colleagues and I had a hard time compromising on something. Even if we had different opinions, I feel like at the end, all of us agreed on something, and this atmosphere is also really something that you don’t want to lose. So I wake up in the morning and just want to give the best I can.