April 17th, 2012

Day in the Life of a Yelp Systems Engineer

Meet Julien R., Yelp systems engineer extraordinaire! When he isn’t keeping San Francisco green by biking to work or brewing his own beer at home, this well-rounded engineer keeps Yelp running day and night. So, totally not multi-talented at all. Julien recently took some time to share his favorite stories during his three plus years at Yelp. Check it out!

What did you do before coming to Yelp?
I studied electrical engineering at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. During one of my summer vacations, I did an internship for a small network engineering company and got my CCNA. Once out of school, I got a job at Friendster as a systems administrator.

How did you first hear about Yelp and the job opening?
My high-school friend Jane K. interned and worked at Yelp and referred me to the job. She tooted the Yelp horn long before I was looking to make a change in my career. When I eventually started looking, I applied to many places, but what made Yelp special was that it was one of the few places that I could honestly express my excitement when asked the question: "Why would you want to work at Yelp?"

What's your title at Yelp and how long have you been with the company?
I am a systems administrator and I have been with Yelp for 3½ years. In that time, there have been lots of changes, but I love that Yelp still has a spunky personality and a fun work environment.

What comprises a typical day for you?
Every day I bike to work, but the rest isn’t always so routine! My main goal is to keep the site up and running, but I also have the flexibility to work with my manager and my team to prioritize my tasks. Currently, my main projects have been to monitor and add new metrics for graphing performance over time (i.e. search service) and monitoring system health. Recently, I have also been involved in expanding our processing capacity. This has been exciting because I get the opportunity to be involved across our infrastructure, including hardware selection, networking, and datacenter work.

What's the best part of working for Yelp?
It’s the people and the culture. It's exceptional how many knowledgeable people work here. Also the management style is really cool. My boss is on my team, but also advocates for me and provides direction — while still leaving me with lots of freedom! It also helps that there is a culture here which creates knowledgeable managers. It is a huge advantage to have a manager who understands the technical side of what is feasible and how hard it is to accomplish tasks.

What is your favorite perk at Yelp?
Definitely the kegmates on the 10th floor. We have an unofficial team of beer enthusiasts who pick out rare beers for our kegmates. I may or may not be on this team (meaning potential candidates now know who to suck up to :).

What has been your favorite memory at Yelp?
Yelp offsites! Particularly one we had a few years ago. We rented out a meadow in Golden Gate Park and had a picnic with outdoor games, BBQs, beers, and a dance floor.

What separates Yelp from other places you've worked?
The leaders in the company are accessible and make time for their employees. While the company has grown, they still maintain a start-up mentality and take the time to get to know us. They also help make sure that the environment is fun and enjoyable for employees — which is certainly visible if you take a look at our 10th floor space complete with a kitchen with snacks, pool, eating areas, sofas, beer on tap and more.

Finally, what would be your one piece of advice for someone interested in your role?
I really like how personable everyone is at Yelp and how everyone has a passion outside of just Yelp (though we’re passionate about that, too!). So, be honest about your interests, share your passions both in work and out of work and be willing to share your war stories during an interview.