My First Six months at Zulily After a Bootcamp

Hi, I’m Mark — a mathematician turned a coffeeshop owner turned an actuary turned a software engineer. When I discovered my passion for software development, I quit my day job, went through an immersive development bootcamp and got recruited by Zulily’s Member Engagement Platform team. This post is about my first six months here. 

Things I had to learn on the go: 

  • Becoming an IntelliJ power user 
  • Navigating the code base with many unfamiliar projects 
  • Learning about containerized deployments and CI/CD 
  • Getting my hands dirty with Java, Scala, Python, JavaScript, shell scripting and beyond 
  • Reaching high into the AWS cloud: ECS, SQS, Kinesis, S3, Lambda, Step Functions, EMR, CloudWatch… 

Things that caught me by surprise: 

  • I shipped my code to production two weeks after my start date. 
  • Engineers had autonomy and trust. The managers removed obstacles. 
  • The amount of collective knowledge and experience around me was stunning. 
  • I was expected to work directly with the Marketing team to clarify requirements. No middlemen. 
  • Iteration was king! 

Things that I am still learning with the help from my team: 

  • Form validation in React; 
  • Designing and building high-scale distributed systems; 
  • Tuning AWS services to match our use cases; 
  • On-call rotations (the team owns several tier-1 services); 
  • And many more… 

There is one recurring theme in all these experiences. No matter how new, huge, or unfamiliar a task may seem at first, it’s just a matter of breaking it down methodically into manageable chunks that can then be understood, built, and tested. This process can be time consuming, and I feel lucky that my team understands that. It’s clear that engineers at Zulily are encouraged to take the time and build products that last.    

One of the things that I find truly amazing here is the breadth of work that is considered ‘full stack’. DevOps, Big Data, Micro Services, and React client apps are just some of the areas in which I have been able to expand my knowledge in the last several months. It may have been overwhelming at first, but when you are among teammates that have vast expertise, acquiring these new skills became an exciting part of my daily routine at Zulily. 

It’s hard to compare what I know now to what I knew six months ago —my understanding has expended in breadth and depth — and I’m excited to see what the next six months will bring.