Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Office Location: Chicago, IL
University: University of Notre Dame
Major: Computer Science
Start Date: June 2021
Starting Role: Engineering Development Program
Describe your role.
As a data engineer, I help create and maintain data pipelines in Azure that work to generate pricing and promotion insights. The data we create gets passed back to Kroger and 84.51° Stratum to help Kroger Category Managers and CPGs gain valuable insights on their pricing and promotion strategies.
What was your experience like in the Development Program?
I had a great time in the Development Program! It was great to meet and form connections with all the other new engineers as well as new grads from other functions like data science and consulting. The weeks we spent training were valuable in helping me feel comfortable with my new work and hitting the ground running when I actually joined my team later on.
How do you believe the 84.51° Development Program compares to other comparable Programs?
I think the 84.51° Development Program sets itself apart by giving you time to not only to learn new things and ways of working, but it also jumpstarts the networking and connections you make with people across the company. Getting paired with an experienced engineering buddy who’s with you throughout your time in the Program and being able to shadow different teams that you could actually end up on really helped me to create those connections and learn who to ask for help if I ever get stuck on a project. It made me much more comfortable to reach out and gave me valuable business context.
How do you believe the Development Program equipped you for success at 84.51°?
From the Development Program, I gained a good foundation of knowledge on which to build and I was able to start contributing almost immediately after joining my team. I also had contacts across the business who I could reach out to and leverage if I ever ran into problems. I feel that I came out of the Development Program with a good model of what an 84.51° engineer looks like and how I could go about becoming that.
What did you learn from the Development Program that you have transferred into your current role?
The data engineering specific training we did in the Development Program was very helpful in my current role. Getting more familiar with Python and PySpark as well as tools like Databricks and Nifi/Airflow were integral in the work I do now. In general, I received great insight into the coding standards and ways of working at the company as well as good background on where the data we use comes from and how to work with it.
Is there anything you wish you had known about the Development Program prior to enrolling?
In general, I wish I had known just how much time I would be given to upskill and then actually shadow different teams. I was so worried going into it that I wouldn’t know enough or would be put through tests or would end up on a team without being equipped to actually be a contributing member, but that was definitely not the case. The Development Program doesn’t feel like an intense and high stakes crash course, instead it’s paced out really well and you feel like you have a lot of time to absorb and apply concepts. By the end, I felt comfortable and ready to join a team and get down to work.
What has been the most memorable experience or favorite project you’ve worked on?
Recently, I was in charge of building out an API that our downstream users at Kroger will use to access valuable price and promotion metrics data. Creating an API of this kind wasn’t something I had really done before so being able to take full ownership and teach myself along the way was a great growth opportunity and I was so proud of the final product. In a way, it showcased how far I’ve come as an engineer in the year I’ve been here.
Did you go through the internship Program at 84.51° prior to graduating? If so, what was that experience like?
I was an intern at 84.51° in the summer of 2020, which was the year before I joined the Development Program. It was the first time the internship had gone virtual, so I was able to work on both an intern project with my fellow interns while also joining a real team in Merchandising. It truly was a great experience. I had so much fun working with the other engineering interns, and I was actually really sad when we had to say goodbye at the end of the summer (but luckily most of us came back to join the Development Program). I also loved working with my team in Merchandising, so much so that I came back to Merchandising after completing the Development Program! My work on that Merchandising team as an intern was what introduced me to data engineering and made me realize it was something I wanted to pursue in my career.
What advice would you give students who are interested in working in the engineering industry?
Don’t feel like you need to know everything and don’t let yourself get discouraged when you realize how little you actually do know. The world of software engineering is so vast and ever-changing, there’s no way to constantly be informed on every aspect. We all have to start somewhere and if you choose the right company (like 84.51°), they’ll teach you what you need to know. Just have confidence in your ability to learn and work hard and you’ll go far.
What’s your favorite part about working at 84.51°? Do you have a favorite benefit or perk that is offered?
My favorite part about working at 84.51° has been the community. Everyone says it but I truly do feel supported by my team and my peers, and everyone is always eager to help you and let you know when you’re doing a great job. My peers are constantly inspiring me to push forward and try new things and my managers make me really feel like a valued member of the team. I feel a great sense of pride from my work. 84.51° creates an environment where it’s easy to grow and thrive. But also, in terms of a favorite benefit or perk, the Chicago office is located in the newly renovated Old Post Office building and it’s a super cool place to work.
What do you like to do in your free time outside of work hours?
When the workday ends, I like to keep active and/or get out into nature for a bit. I also enjoy cozying up with a good book or binging a Netflix show (or maybe The Bachelor). Sometimes if the mood strikes, I love to bake (mostly something with chocolate in it). And of course, if it’s football season I become an obnoxious and obsessed Notre Dame football fan. Go Irish!