Peter W.

Data Engineer
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Peter W.
Social Policy and Social Work
Social Policy
Taught Postgraduate
United Kingdom

My employment

Data Engineer
United Kingdom
Digital and IT services
Medium-size business (50-249 employees)

More about Peter


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A day in the life of a Data Engineer in the United Kingdom

None of my experiences were directly transferrable to anything professional but all of them were helpful in being successful.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

TrueLayer - A startup trying to grow the open banking economy.

Currently we provide tools that make it easy for businesses to use open banking to provide their customers with better data about all of their accounts and initiate payments from them.

What do you do?

I'm the only data engineer at TrueLayer, so my job is actually setting up a whole analytics function at the organisation with a colleague.

Data engineering as a whole is a specialty of software engineering that focuses on stewardship of data; it overlaps a little bit with DevOps and infrastructure and an even littler bit with data science.

In general, the role involves creating and maintaining pipelines for ingesting data from multiple sources and making it available to lots of people. The use of big data brings a lot of architectural concerns and it's more important to understand the tools on offer and know how to pick the right one than it is to understand the intricacies of using any one tool in particular. The stakeholders are often internal, and it's common to build tools to enable colleagues inside and outside engineering to access an organisation's data and to enable work from data scientists to be used in production.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

This is not my first career and, arguably, not my second. My career journey has been completely ridiculous and a full CV would be absurd. I'm not sure I could say anything helpful about how it all connects together.

Suffice it to say, that careers can be very rocky journeys with a lot of unexpected twists and turns: I've found myself in an amazingly fortunate position but I had to think long and hard about what I enjoy and what I'm good at. I also had to make some painful realisations that I am not the person I would like to be and don't have all the skills I need to excel at some things I wish I could.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

Absolutely. My undergrad was in literature & philosophy which was a wildly different choice! I worked in policy for a while after my MRes Social Policy but then took a big career change which was very scary at the time.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

Tech is a mixed bag. It's full of people who are really passionate about diversity and people who don't get it at all. I've been part of an engineering team of over 20 people with no women. We recognised it as a problem but didn't own our part in getting there.

There are a lot of white dudes in tech but there's also a massive skills gap. It's a candidates' market right now so if you're looking check out the makeup of the team and don't be scared to ask employers about inclusion and diversity. There are some really passionate people and some wonderfully inclusive teams: my advice is to pick them over the coolest tech or the biggest salary every time.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

Very flexible and informal.

I've mostly worked at startups where it's very unusual to have set working hours (but also very common to have high expectations to meet) and sometimes no set workplace. The structure tends to be quite flat so it's normal to chat a lot with the CEO even from an entry level position but it's also normal for no-one to know who has responsibility over what.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

YUSU Officer
Society chair
Nightline volunteer
JCRC Officer

None of my experiences were directly transferrable to anything professional but all of them were helpful in being successful. Many interviews (particularly at the entry level) will have competency-based questions of the form "tell me about a time you..."; whilst heading up a department was nothing like running a uni society I used university experiences to answer many of those questions for several years after I graduated.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

Don't be afraid to try something completely unexpected
Don't be afraid of 'requirements' (I have literally never met more than 2/3 of them for any job I've done)

Use interviews to learn as much as you can about your potential colleagues and workplace. You going to spend most of your life at work so make sure it makes you smile. Your happiness is the most important factor in your career decisions.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Diversity in tech
Transitioning into tech from another field
Experiences of being queer in the workplace
How data engineering as a specialty relates to software engineering as a whole

Next steps...

If you like the look of Peter’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Peter a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Peter to be your mentor.

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