Engineer Spotlight: Michelle Lee
DraftKings couldn’t produce award-winning products without our amazing team members. We’re excited to spotlight our talented engineers through our Q&A series. We sit down with Michelle, Senior Site Reliability Engineer, who’s been with DraftKings since January 2020! Get to know Michelle’s journey below.
What do you do at DraftKings? How does your team contribute to DraftKings’ mission/goals?
I’m on the Site Reliability Engineering team. When I asked my teammates how to answer this question, they just laughed. We do all sorts of things; I guess it’s best summarized as keeping the lights on!
I’ve heard SRE described as the grease and the glue — we make sure the wheels are still spinning and that everything is holding together. We make sure our services scale properly on the right infrastructure and builds and deploys are running smoothly. We also build out new data centers, and we codify it all.
How did you end up at DraftKings? What drew you to the company?
I was looking for a job where I could grow and learn as an engineer under leaders who look out for their people. I was really impressed by how much effort DraftKings put into making sure that their employees were thriving in the workplace and excited by the problems the SRE team was solving. Almost two years in, and neither of those things have changed!
How have you adjusted to working from home?
It’s been pretty fun. Actually, my husband has been renovating our house while I’ve been working from home. We have a fun game on our team where we guess what power tool we hear from the other side of the house.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I usually try to get online at 8 to go through my messages and log some hours working on a ticket or running through Kubernetes tutorials. My first meeting isn’t usually until 10:30, so I like having that quiet block of time in the morning to really focus on something.
My days can vary drastically depending on what time of year it is. I’m sure that’s true for most teams at DraftKings! Lately, my days have involved helping to push through high-priority work, planning for new workstreams, and a lot of prep for big events like the Super Bowl or March Madness.
Our infrastructure’s reliability is paramount to our success; what drew you to pursue a career in DevOps and Site Reliability engineering?
I got into DevOps originally kind of by accident. I had worked as a developer and data scientist right out of school and was looking to try something different. I somehow convinced someone to hire me with zero DevOps experience and learned a ton from there. I thrive on organization and repeatability, so infrastructure as code and configuration management really spoke to me right off the bat. It’s funny because now I know Site Reliability as kind of trying to tame the madness.
What is your favorite part of the engineering challenges you face?
One thing I’ve been learning more about recently is how collaborative engineering really is. We solve challenging problems together within our team, but it doesn’t stop there! We work closely with other teams at DraftKings to solve problems with reps from some of our third-party partners like AWS and DataDog, and sometimes get advice from other companies’ engineering teams. Everyone has strengths in different areas, and it’s cool to see how all those strengths come together to create something way bigger than any one person could ever do.
What is your favorite programming language to code in?
What’s your favorite code editor?
VSCode or if I’m feeling lazy, right in the terminal.
What is your favorite perk at DraftKings? What is your favorite DraftKings company event?
I actually only worked in the office for two months before we went fully remote, so I never really got to attend any company events. I will say, though, I really miss the snack bar. So many options, you could easily survive off the snack bar alone, and I’m not proud to say that I did some days.
What advice do you have for those seeking a job at DraftKings?
As much as we value technical expertise, we also really look for people who are curious and always learning. The company and the tech are always growing in new ways. We love to talk to candidates who are also learning new tech and challenging themselves.
What’s your proudest DraftKings moment?
My proudest DK moment was probably during the Super Bowl this year. After many, many months of being heavily involved in load testing efforts and autoscaling improvements, it was awesome to see our new scaling infrastructure perform flawlessly, and our site held really stable. It was a really cool culmination of a lot of hard work and collaboration from many teams.