How does Quora work in the backend
DevStory: Lead Back End Engineer, Georg H.
How did you get into programming?
As a little boy I was interested in electronics and computers. When I got my first Sony Vaio laptop at the age of 12, I tried to program simple programs in Basic. Since then, my passion for programming has never let go of me.
At what age did you start?
Which programming language did you get excited about first?
Basic, later C and Java
What exactly is your role as Lead Back End Engineer about?
I'm a Senior Software Development Engineer at Amazon. My areas of responsibility are extremely varied - there is no such thing as "everyday". I invest 50% of my time in the development of other software engineers in my organization (Prime Now): I hold workshops on the subject of "Clean Code", lead training courses on security and data classification and am a mentor for many of my colleagues. 30% of my time I create large-scale system designs for new products and features. These designs are reviewed with stakeholders, storymaps are created and teammates are informed about new designs. The rest of my time is a mix of programming, code reviews, design reviews, costing and activities to scale our systems and more.
What do you particularly like about your job as a back end engineer?
Every day brings a different challenge. Our backend systems are extremely versatile, which enables me to learn new things every day.
What are the specific challenges as a lead back end engineer?
A major challenge is to scale our systems so that millions of customers are satisfied.
What are your preferred technologies?
I love to use all possible AWS tools (DynamoDB, Lambda, API gateways etc.) because they simplify the unpleasant aspects of software development enormously (setting up servers, monitoring and alarms, ...). Every team at Amazon has the freedom to decide for themselves which tools and programming languages are used. Typically, we evaluate our decisions based on data and specific use cases. My preferred programming languages are Java, Scala and Kotlin.
Windows or Mac?
What dev projects do you have outside of your work?
Outside of work I try to deal with computers as little as possible. I love exploring new trails in Southern California, riding my bike to the beach, or just taking a trip into the blue. In the evening I enjoy reading books on management (to understand why managers think the way they think) and coaching (and how to improve my mentoring skills).
How do you keep yourself up to date on your job?
I find Quora and Reddit very helpful to keep up to date. In addition, I read many O'Reilly books (Scaling, Data Intensive Applications, Reactive Programming, ...) and classics such as Clean Code, Clean Architecture and The Clean Coder. What I specifically find out about, however, often depends on my current problems at Amazon.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I'm trying to expand my career at Amazon by expanding my influence on the entire organization and leading even larger projects. The next tech level would be "Principle Engineer", that's the big goal.
Tips for beginners
How do you start programming and what should you start with?
My experience (gathered through many, many interviews at Amazon with Junior Engineers) is that developers are often extremely focused on programming language-specific features, but often forget about the basics. Learning programming languages is not a problem. Correctly mastering the basic concepts of programming is a completely different topic - but an enormously essential one. SOLID and the Gang Of Four shouldn't be foreign terms.
What skills should you bring with you as a back end engineer?
As a software development engineer at Amazon, you have to master the basics of programming very well. You should also have a basic understanding of scaling failure handling. In addition - especially as a Sr. Software Development Engineer - one should have the customer and the business in focus.
What training do you think makes sense to become a back end engineer?
A course on "Software Engineering" will teach the basics. But I think that you should take your future into your own hands and not be satisfied with the basics that are taught in a course of study.
You can find open backend developer jobs here
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