Employee Spotlight

Data Engineer

Anna D. is a Data Engineer at 84.51˚

Employee Spotlight - Anna DeBrunner

Employee Spotlight: Anna D.
Hometown: Mason, OH
Office Location: Cincinnati, OH
University: University of Cincinnati Major: Computer Science 84.51° Mission (Project Team): Commercial Insights & Loyalty

Describe your role as a Data Engineer.
As a data engineer, I’m responsible for creating pipelines to extract, transform, and load data for use by data scientists and other engineers. This includes things like work with PySpark/Hadoop for distributed data processing, SQL for database management, and Bash scripting for automation.

What was your experience like in the Development Program?
The first few weeks of the development program are focused on getting to know the company, its various teams, and what they do. After the company introduction, we dive into engineering-specific content that covers the various technologies used at 84.51. This spans from front-end (Angular), to service development (Spring Boot), to back-end data (PySpark, SQL). By the end of the program, I had a great basis of knowledge about the business and engineering skills.

How do you believe the 84.51° Development Program compares to other comparable programs?
I think the breadth of courses is what sets 84.51 apart. Many companies might give you training in only the area of engineering you’re working in or require a years-long rotation program for you to experience different areas. At 84.51, the first few months of full-time work are completely focused on helping you learn technical skills across the spectrum upfront. I don’t think that you would get that experience at many other companies.

How do you believe the Development Program equipped you for success at 84.51°?
The development program gave me a broad knowledge of all aspects of engineering that allows me to jump right into anything I work on. Even though I’m definitely not an expert in many areas, knowing the core concepts behind things makes it way easier to get started and gives me the confidence to work on a wide variety of tasks. It’s also great to have a network of people within the company you know you can turn to with questions about a specific technology, which is something I’ve done several times!

What did you learn from the Development Program that you have transferred into your current role?
There were several courses covering data-specific skills that I use all the time. I was not familiar with PySpark before starting in my current role and the concepts I learned in the PySpark course are things I use every day now. The refresher on SQL fundamentals was also very useful. Furthermore, the more general courses on things like clean code and CI/CD are central to the ways of working in engineering.

What has been the most memorable experience or favorite project you’ve worked on?
My team is currently working on transitioning a very complex, outdated process to PySpark for long-term maintainability. I’ve been able to spearhead this effort and really strengthen my knowledge of PySpark and our processes. A particularly proud moment is when we were having issues with long runtime for the process. Through research into PySpark optimization consulting with other teams, I was able to decrease the runtime from over 4 hours to less than 45 minutes! This was a concrete example showing me how much I’ve grown in my knowledge during my time at 84.51.

What advice would you give students who are interested in working in the analytics industry?
Keep up to date with what the “latest and greatest” things in the industry are and take notice of trends. Educate yourself in a technology that aligns with those trends and focus on learning the fundamental concepts. You can’t learn every hot new technology, but if you can learn the fundamentals that apply to a bunch of technologies, you’re setting yourself up as a valuable resource!

What’s your favorite part about working at 84.51°?
I think if you ask most people at 84.51 this question, they’ll say the people and the culture. Everyone is always so willing to help and share knowledge. People are passionate about their jobs and want to see their team and the company overall succeed. Additionally, I think the development program is a great example of the emphasis on learning and growth. I love having the opportunity to work with new tech all the time and constantly learn new things.

What do you like to do in your free time, outside of work hours?
I love cooking and baking, especially experimenting with vegetarian alternatives to my favorite recipes. I also enjoy exploring the endless restaurant and brewery options in Cincinnati. There’s always something new opening up and it’s interesting to compare and contrast everything they have to offer.