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Q&A With A Disqus Engineer

Posted by Sabra Mwaura on September 18, 2019 • ... comments

 

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As Disqus continues to grow and evolve, we want to take a pause and highlight some of the hardworking and very talented team members that make the company what it is today. This week, we chose to interview one of our incredibly skilled backend engineers to give you a sense of what it’s like to work here and how we like to operate. 🤓

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

My name is Derrick Lin, and I am a backend engineer here at Disqus in San Francisco. I grew up in Southern California and then moved to the Bay Area where I started attending the University of California, Berkeley to study computer science. I also taught there as a Teaching Assistant and realized that I really enjoy teaching and helping others learn.

 

2. How did you land at Disqus? 

After Berkeley, I attended School 42-- which is a nonprofit and tuition-free computer programming school for anyone. It was pretty incredible to see how they provided tools for people from all over the world, with little to no computer science background, to eventually start a career in tech and coding. After learning as much as I felt that I could in a school setting, I decided it was time to start my job search. I chose Disqus because I found that they have strong company values and appreciate their employees. As a team, we look out for each other, and that’s something that I admire in a company.

 

3. What were you looking forward to most when joining the company?

The mentorship. When I first started, I thought it was incredible that really talented and experienced engineers took time out of their day to mentor, guide me, and answer my questions. There were plenty of resources when/if I needed help and there were always expedited growth opportunities. 

 

4. How have you grown since starting work at Disqus? Professionally and, if applicable, personally? 

Professionally, I’ve become a lot more independent in my work. It’s shocking to see the difference that patience and experience can make. Personally, I’ve learned a lot about my values and what kind of person I would like to be. It also helps having really incredible people at Disqus, and I feel grateful that I get to work with them every day. One of the things that I love the most about my co-workers is that I’m not necessarily learning about software development all of the time, but I’m also learning about things like what it means to shoulder more responsibility, how people should treat each other in a work environment, how to care for your teammates -- and really just how to be a better person in general!   

 

5. What is your favorite Disqus feature or project you’ve worked on?

When we decided to transition to a new ad provider, I was responsible for building the infrastructure-- or data pipeline, for the change. The goal of this project was to allow our system to intake revenue data from our ad provider. It was one of my favorite projects to work on because I had to teach myself about an entirely new process and partner-- but in the end, it was a very fulfilling experience for me.

 

6. What is the greatest challenge you’ve overcome working at Disqus?

I think it was owning the above project. I first learned about data frameworks in college, but I had never worked professionally with them before, so it was challenging piecing everything together while meeting tight deadlines and overcoming any sudden issues that popped up along the way. However, I ended up meeting the deadline 2 weeks ahead of schedule, and it’s still something that I am incredibly proud of to this day. I’m satisfied knowing that I pushed myself and learned a lot along the way. 

 

7. How would you describe the Disqus work environment? 

It’s been constantly evolving since I started working here, but that’s quite normal and expected in the tech space. I’d say that it’s a lot of work taken up by a small, talented team who helps and supports each other everyday. We all grow and learn together, and take every opportunity to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and hard work. 

 

8. How would you describe the dynamic of the engineering team specifically? 

It’s very free form compared to what other engineering teams may do. We often have to wear many hats as different challenges arise. I really enjoy working with this team because my fellow engineers are always willing to help each other and pass on knowledge or resources. We manage our workloads and priorities following the “Scrum Agile” methodology. This is a more iterative approach, where we have sprints that last one to two weeks and allows the team to deliver on a regular basis. This works really well for our team, and is a great way to stay organized, on schedule, and distribute the work evenly.

 

9. What’s your description for what Disqus does?

The best way I describe Disqus (also how I tend to explain it to my family) is that we’re a commenting platform for websites or digital publishers. For example, when you visit a blog or article, there is typically a section at the bottom where people can comment their thoughts or feedback. That’s what we work on, and you can find us on all types of sites from entertainment, to foodie sites that cover recipes, to breaking news! 

In today’s world, the human connection and engagement is largely facilitated by a couple of big names: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., but that shouldn’t be the only option. Content creators and digital publishers deserve an option where they can directly communicate with the world and understand their audiences without an intermediary. With such an option, publishers are empowered to foster communities and build relationships with their audience. At Disqus, we work to provide publishers this independence, allowing communities and connections to be made.

 

10. Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your 20-year-old self?

Stay in school and always push yourself. Never lose your hunger for knowledge and learning! 

As always, we love your feedback, so please let us know who else you’d like to hear from in the future. 🎤 Thank you, Derrick, for taking the time to tell us a little bit about yourself and your role here at Disqus! 

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