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Warehousing

9 Chicago Companies Hiring Engineers Right Now

During their weekly team lunch, VSCO Staff Engineer Stephen Mullins said work talk is socially prohibited. The ritual allows employees to connect with each other in a way they otherwise wouldn’t. Developers are also encouraged to take mental breaks throughout the day, whatever that means for them. 

“It may sound silly or unproductive, but sometimes stepping away from your desk and focusing on something completely different for a few minutes helps people do their best work,” Millins said.

And at the following fast-growing companies, there’s no shortage of work to be done. We spoke with engineers who are developing new data warehousing to improve access for their business teams and developers that are rebuilding Bitcoin ATM software from the ground up. 

In addition to soft skills like camaraderie and communication, engineering professionals and team leaders said their growing teams rely on popular programming languages and tools like AWS, Sketch and Kubernetes to make it all happen. 
 

Peapod Digital Labs

 

Jason Rush

Engineering Director

Peapod Digital Labs’ engineering team is currently focusing on problems that require the ability to scale. Engineering Director Jason Rush said they have begun moving some of the company’s services into Azure in an ongoing effort to become more cloud-friendly.

 

Peapod Digital Labs’ tech stack: It’s centered around Java and other JVM-based languages running on Linux. The development teams make heavy use of Spring Boot. They are working to define, build and leverage their next-generation architectures around Kafka, PostgreSQL and a handful of other tools.  

“We are also going deeper with Docker to manage some of our build and deploy automation as a target platform for some of our services,” said Rush. We are also looking to decouple different parts of our technology stack from each other.”  

 

Most challenging project: Reengineering and decoupling their systems in ways that allow each one to grow independently. 

“I enjoy working out the details of an asynchronous, distributed architecture,” Rush said.

 

Unique team qualities: The way they work together. 

“The different teams are very close-knit and have a focus on understanding the value their work brings to the business,” Rush said. “This translates to an above-average level of caring about the customer experience.”  

 

Matt Lane

Director of Technology

For DigitalMint’s director of technology, partnering with a new hardware manufacturer is a stressful but satisfying challenge. To meet the task head on while continuing to enable consumers to buy cryptocurrency from Bitcoin ATMs instantly, the company’s engineering team works with the following tools.  
 

DigitalMint’s tech stack: The team loves Go. “The language insists on beautiful and concise code,” Matt Lane said. “The challenges in writing Go are fun and engaging rather than dull and painful.” 

They’ve also been partnering with a local expert in Chicago to learn and leverage new, powerful container orchestration that supports the business’s DevOps needs. 

 

Most interesting project: He is leading a rebuild of the company’s Bitcoin ATM software from the ground up. 

“This presents our engineering team with a unique opportunity to design a critical piece of our technology that we need to stick with for the next few years,” Lane said. “We have a lot of prototyping ahead but building new things and exploring technology is always way more exciting than keeping the lights on.” 

 

Unique team qualities: How free they are to make mistakes. 

“We provide opportunities for our engineers to try uncomfortable technologies while overcoming stumbles in the process,” Lane said. “We’ve discovered a process of building cool and useful things while we continue to operate the business feeling engaged and rewarded.” 

 

Mo Komperda

UX Designer

Fast Radius’s design department is still pretty scrappy. They share their designs with the software team so that various stakeholders are on the same page in terms of colors and fonts as employees build out the company’s design library. 

 

Fast Radius’s tech stack: UX Designer Mo Komperda works mostly using Sketch and Invision, as well as various photo editors. 

“My favorite tool is Whimsical right now,” Komperda said. “I’ve been using it for flow charts or diagrams. It’s worked really well here since our industry is so complex.” 

 

Most interesting project: Streamlining their part review process. 

“Salespeople pass moving parts to be quoted through the system using an uploading interface.” Komperda said. “We’re seeing nuanced manufacturing process needs at all phases that we didn’t know previously existed.” 

 

Unique team fact: The number of team traditions that have remained the same despite high growth. 

“We do a team plank every day and everyone always eats together,” Komperda said. 

 

Samuel Aney

Software Developer

Hudson River Trading Software Developer Samuel Aney said that working on his current trading algorithm project forced him far outside of his comfort zone. It exposed him to new technologies and provided him with learning opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have had.

 

Hudson River Trading’s tech stack: HRTers use a program that provides an interactive view into the historical market events for a given stock across multiple exchanges. 

“This allows me to examine the behavior of the market and our trading system in detail without needing to traverse countless log files to collect the necessary data,” Aney said. “I also take advantage of the framework that allows me to easily run jobs on our in-house computer cluster.”  

 

Most interesting project: Allowing more of their existing trading algorithms to take advantage of the company’s market-facing hardware components, which involves access to HRT’s lowest latency infrastructure. 

“This project required that I deal with the full breadth of our trading system, from the relatively high-level strategy logic down to the low-level hardware management code,” Aney said.  

 

Unique team qualities: The degree of freedom team members are given. 

“We are highly encouraged to allocate a significant portion of our day toward pursuing projects that will benefit the team as a whole rather than perpetually focusing on the next immediate burning fire,” Aney said. 
 

 

Sam Lahti

Head of Backend Engineering

At Avant, Sam Lahti’s back-end engineering team makes a significant effort to standardize data processing around Airflow, EMR, JupyterHub and data access tools like Dremio. Because the company supports sophisticated data science, engineering and machine learning teams, many of his direct reports focus on improving data processing tooling and practices. 

 

Avant’s tech stack: The bulk of the company’s stack is deployed on AWS. The team prefers using managed services where possible to reduce the ops overhead. They rely heavily on services like EC2, ECS, EKS, RDS, Route53, Batch and S3. 

“All of our infrastructure is managed as code using Terraform and all applications are dockerized for deployment, which helps us speed development and comply with audits and change control processes,” Lahti said. “The bulk of our services are written in Python, Ruby and JavaScript for static front-end applications using a mix of Flask, Pandas, PySpark, Rails, React and some other in-house or OSS ML tools.” 

 

Most challenging project: Developing new data warehousing to improve access and reduce support needs for the company’s data and business teams. This project includes cleaning up the representation of their data and addressing technical debt. 

“The biggest challenge is changing both our data processing stack and changing our hosting strategy at the same time,” Lahti said. “We’ve decided to use an account-environment AWS approach to help reduce the amount of rules and configurations required for our data segregation needs, but it requires a lot of coordination.”  

 

Unique team qualities: Their range of exposure to technologies on the infra and app side. Leadership cares just as much about reliably shipping code as they do writing it, so they invest heavily in developer tools and deployment pipelines.

“It gives our engineers a chance to gain experience across a modern financial platform in ways that might not be possible at other orgs,” Lahti said. 

 

Austin Vance

CEO and Co-Founder

At Focused Labs, the team prides themselves on picking the right software tool for a particular job rather than locking themselves into a particular technology. According to CEO Austin Vance, having a diverse team helps the company live out their core values: “listen first,” “learn why” and “love our craft.”

 

Focused Labs’ tech stack: They are currently using Vue.js with TypeScript, GraphQL and Kubernetes. 

“We strive to learn from one another and find efficient solutions within new tech to get the job done and get it done well,” Vance said. 

 

Most interesting project: Recently, Focused Labs has been working closely with Conscious Transformation, a personal and professional development company. 

“By having open conversations, company visibility and collaboration within our team and with our clients, we’ve been able to deliver key solutions,” Vance said.  

 

Unique team qualities: How they make clients feel a part of the development process. 

“When we break down barriers between client and programmer, we pave the way for open communication, allowing clients to feel actively engaged and part of the process,” Vance said. 

 

Nauman Anees

CEO

With a globally distributed team, ThinkMarkets uses Slack and Zoom to manage communication. CEO Nauman Anees said all departments use Atlassian tools to manage development, which supports the architecture of a multi-platform trading infrastructure for clients from more than 180 countries.

 

ThinkMarket’s tech stack: “Swift, Java, and React are part of our primary ecosystem,” Anees said. “We use Solidity for blockchain-based smart contracts. As with any other firm in capital markets, we deal with a lot of data and regulations around that.” 

They use NATS, Kafka and RabbitMQ to transport data and events, as well as to enable real-time workflows. For managing data storage, retrieval, caching and fast processing, the team relies on Apache Ignite, Redis, Cassandra and MSSQL. 

 

Unique team qualities: The diversity of employees and clients. 

“An appreciation of cultural differences has a direct impact on technology diversity. Anees said. “We see it as the essence of a rewarding human experience.”

 

Stephen Mullins

Staff Engineer

VSCO has invested in a technology architecture that can scale to meet the needs of their growing user base. Recently, the company built a wrapper tool around the Kubernetes command-line tool (kubectl), which Staff Engineer Stephen Mullins said has made the entire process even more seamless than it was to start. 

 

VSCO’s tech stack: They use Golang services running in Docker containers, which were built via Bazel and Jenkins. The containers are deployed and managed via Kubernetes all running in AWS. The services communicate over gRPC using protobuf. 

“We use a variety of technologies in conjunction with our microservice architecture: the conventional MySQL and MongoDB for persistence, but also Titan Graph for our social graph needs, Kafka for asynchronous processing and Spark within our machine learning platform,” Mullins said.  

 

Most interesting project: Revamping VSCO’s subscriptions architecture. 

“VSCO’s revenue is primarily powered by member subscriptions to the platform (as opposed to advertising), and we’ve learned a great deal over time working with the different mobile platforms that provide subscriptions to our users,” Mullins said. “Now that we’re older and wiser, we want to make some corrections in how we store subscription data and history per mobile platform and feed that information into a data warehouse to power our lifecycle marketing efforts.”  

 

Unique position perk: That he gets to help build out a new team and culture in Chicago, separate but connected to the Oakland office. 

“Being the first engineer hired in Chicago, I’ve utilized Slack heavily to communicate with teams in Oakland,” Mullins said. “It has been both a challenge and opportunity to help power a ‘remote first’ culture across the offices.”

 

Robert Grider

Software Engineer Team Lead

Rewards Network Software Engineer Team Lead Robert Grider likes using Kafka because of its data backbone, which he says connects parts of the network system together in a fast, reliable manner. He said the open-source software platform allows for flexibility and scalability not as readily apparent in other technology. Grider also relies on Scala for its feature-rich offerings, along with access to a wide range of JVM libraries. 

 

Rewards Network’s tech stack The team works with Kafka and Scala on AWS. 

“Recently, we’ve emphasized the functional programming side of Scala, which provides some nice guarantees and helps with concurrency and error-handling,” Grider said. “AWS is a relatively new frontier for our company, but we’ve enjoyed the ability to run our containers reliably with ECS, control our operational environment declaratively with Terraform and scale up and down across all the resources our applications use.” 

 

Most interesting project: A product that would customize member experiences across their network in a fast and scalable way. 

“This problem has given us the chance to think bigger in terms of the potential for billions of possible data customizations while also considering response speed for users waiting on websites,” Grider said. 

 

Unique team qualities: The amount of support senior management provides. 

“If our process isn’t working, the team is able to make changes to help accomplish our goals,” Grider said. 

 

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