Meet Employee #2 and Back-End/Infrastructure Engineer, Austin Ellingwood
We’re excited to welcome Austin, our 2nd employee who has joined Viralspace since the start of February 2020. He brings strong experience in AWS architecture from previous startups and startup-like environments. In his two months at Viralspace, he’s already made a huge impact on projects like automatic updates and latency improvements, and has led the development of our back-end infrastructure for our upcoming product.
What was your background before Viralspace?
I attended a school in the Midwest called Wabash College. It is a small liberal arts college that is all male, around 900 students. At Wabash I was able to play baseball for a year and run track and field for 3 years, as well as join a fraternity and many other clubs (Extreme Sports Club, Sphinx Club, Finance Club). I majored in Economics and minored in Computer Science.
During college, I had internships at startups in Indiana and Palo Alto, which got me interested in tech. Since graduation, I worked for the past two years at Virtusa, an IT company, in the Indianapolis office. I was part of the AWS/Linux team where I was a Solution Architect. In this role I would work on legacy environments inherited by the team, but the main role I had was to architect and implement HIPAA compliant environments for the past year.
What were some of your proudest accomplishments from your previous jobs? What were some of the most exciting and challenging moments?
One of my proudest moments was my first HIPAA architecture. It was my first project that I had the lead on. I was given the project and told that I have 2 weeks to implement the solution from scratch — they needed the first iteration up and running at the end of that 2 week period! Even on my first project, I was able to get it to a functional state in that tight window, which was seemingly an impossible task at first.
Since I inherited a number of environments that were all running various applications, there was a lot to learn. I would touch numerous environments on a daily basis. This allowed me to use a number of tools every day, as well as many AWS and non-AWS services. I believe this model helped get me to the point I am at today. I was able to learn more and more every day about topics that school could never teach.
This model has its advantages and disadvantages. While I was able to learn the various aspects of the environments, I also needed the ability to debug all of the environments. A lot of the time, I wouldn’t know entirely how the environment was set up at first, but when an issue pops up it was trial by fire. This was exciting and stressful at the same time. Things like needing to debug an instance but not knowing that we had to be on a different VPN in order to get into the environment would pop up frequently.
Why did you decide to join Viralspace?
Viralspace is tackling an interesting challenge. I didn’t know much about MarTech, but I was intrigued. When I saw that I would be able to work closely with the team to create huge parts of the product, I was sold. I want to be somewhere I can make an impact. The team was and still is very inviting. They are very friendly and everyone’s input matters. This is exactly the type of group that I wanted to be with.
What do you work on at Viralspace? How has your experience been so far?
I am the backend/infrastructure engineer at Viralspace. I work on the backend API’s and the underlying infrastructure that the application is hosted on. My experience so far has been fantastic. I have no complaints, I have been challenged every day since joining, and I am being handed more and more work on a daily basis. This is exactly what I have been looking for and I cannot wait to see where we can take Viralspace. I have been able to bring a lot of AWS experience to the team that has already helped the application in a number of ways.
What do you hope to learn or do during your time at Viralspace?
There are a number of things that I hope to do during my time at Viralspace, and one of those is to have some sense community! At my previous job, I was full-time remote for about 6 months, which made it fairly hard to get out and be around others in a new city. Now, I am looking forward to being around the team more and more. I am looking forward to some team outings to get to know everyone better.
I am looking forward to learning more and more about Python. I believe in the few weeks that I have been here, I have already become a better developer, my code is cleaner, more efficient, and this is just the beginning! Python is so powerful, so I am excited to get better every day.
I am not an expert in AWS, but I would say that is the provider that I have spent the most time in. I would love to keep growing in AWS. I would also love to dabble in the other powerhouse cloud providers, just to see what they may offer over AWS. After going to Developer Week on my first full week at Viralspace, I would love to check out some of the smaller providers as well.
What do you love to do outside of work?
San Francisco is very new to me still, so I have been doing a lot of touristy things on the weekends. Outside of that, I have been to some concerts, I enjoy the occasional video game session with my friends, and I work on some personal projects that I have with my friends/myself. I enjoy time with my dog, and I am hoping that I can make it to Tahoe soon so I can ski/snowboard.