A Day in the Life: Calla Feucht, Sr. DevOps Engineer

Happy Spring~ This month, we’re featuring Calla Feucht who works on Codecademy’s DevOps team. For those unfamiliar with DevOps, they’re the team at Codecademy that maintains our website’s infrastructure thus allowing the site to run faster and more reliably. Without them, the Codecademy experience would not be as seamless.

Please meet Calla, who can explain more about a day in the life of an engineer in the mysterious world of a DevOps! :grin:

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hey y’all! My name is Calla, and I’m a Senior DevOps Engineer on the Infrastructure & Services team at Codecademy. Our team builds, maintains, and monitors the infrastructure that runs the Codecademy platform.

I’ve been interested in technology for as long as I can remember. My first programming experience was when I was 8 or 9 years old; I wrote custom profile layouts using HTML and CSS for one of my favorite websites. As I grew older, I continued to cultivate my passion for the STEM fields.

When trying to decide where to go to college, I found a major called Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) at James Madison University and knew it was the perfect fit for me. I learned applied sciences (physics, biology, chemistry) within the context of social sciences (sociology, economics, politics), and I took a handful of programming and networking courses.

How did you end up working for Codecademy?

I worked at Condé Nast for a few years, and I had a great team and boss while working there. My boss left the company shortly after I did, and he went to Codecademy. I ended up at a small start-up that worked in the social media data collection space. I learned a lot while I was there, but I found myself longing to work for a company that had a tangible positive impact on the world. I reached out to my network to see who was hiring, and my boss from Condé Nast told me his new team at Codecademy had a few open positions. I jumped at the opportunity, and I’ve been working here ever since.

Did you always want to be a Sr. DevOps Engineer?

Hah! Definitely not. The concept of DevOps didn’t even exist until ~2007-2008, and it wasn’t a widely implemented practice until about 2014. I wanted to work in the biotechnology industry, specifically in the realm of genetics.

When I was a senior in college, I accepted a position as a developer with Capital One. They had a program where college hires would rotate through different roles, allowing them to gain broader technical and business knowledge. My second rotation was on a “Systems Team;” we were responsible for environments management, networking, and CI/CD oversight for a single line of business. This was my first taste of DevOps-type work, and I was hooked.

What are the best aspects of working as a Sr. DevOps Engineer?

One of the best aspects of working in the DevOps space is the sheer breadth of different technologies you get to use and learn. There is always something new to explore; there are countless puzzles to solve. I love troubleshooting, and it is something I get to do on a daily basis.

Another thing I love about working in DevOps is getting to interact with every engineering team. I’m a people person at heart, and it is immensely satisfying to know that my work enables the work of my fellow engineers.

What are the worst aspects of working as a Sr. DevOps Engineer?

Remember the breadth of technologies I mentioned before? While it’s a great aspect of working in DevOps, it can also be one of the worst aspects. The technology industry moves very quickly. Keeping up with the latest and greatest tools can be challenging, and sometimes it seems like the tool you’ve just learned is already being deprecated in favor of the next best thing.

If you could make one piece of fictional tech reality, what would it be?

If I had to pick juuuuust one… it would have to be teleportation. My family lives all over the place, and being away from them during the pandemic has been really tough. Teleportation would also enable us to eliminate (or at least reduce) our dependence on cars, which would be a major boon for the environment.

Do you have any advice for the learners?

Try on different hats! There are a ton of different roles in the technology industry, and each one requires different skills and tools. It never hurts to know the ins and outs of other parts of the stack.

If you could make one brand new course what would it be?

DevOps/Infrastructure Engineering of course!

What does a typical day look like for you?

6:00 am — My cats wake me up. Thanks, cats. I start my day with some coffee, breakfast, and podcasts, and then I usually do some chores around the house. I’ll check Slack and email on my phone to see if anything happened overnight that needs action.

8:00 am — Presuming I didn’t find anything urgent when checking Slack and email on my phone earlier, this is when I log on to my work computer. I respond to emails, review outstanding pull requests, and figure out what needs to be done that day. I primarily use this time to do things that need my uninterrupted attention.

10:00 am — Team standup! If there’s nothing brought up in this meeting that needs my time, I go back to my individual work after this.

12:30 pm — My partner and I both work from home, so we try to take our lunch breaks together when we can. Since he and I are both in tech, we’ll often end up talking about our current work and helping each other solve any problems we might be facing.

1:00 pm — Back to work. I might have a few afternoon meetings, but generally the rest of the day is a combination of focused work and on-call troubleshooting.

4:30 pm — I’m definitely a morning person, so I try to wrap up my day pretty early. I check our monitoring dashboards to make sure our applications are healthy, and then I call it a day.

Later — I generally spend my evenings playing video games (shout-out to my current time sink, Stardew Valley), reading, learning songs on my ukulele, or mucking around with our 3D printer. One of my favorite latest prints is a collapsible dice tower for my D&D games.

Parting Thoughts

I love working in technology, but I’ve had to work hard to create balance for myself. Don’t let your work be the only thing that fulfills you! This industry is great, but the 24/7 nature of technology lends itself to burnout. Find your moments of quiet and restoration.

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Hi Lily, Thanks for sharing the aspects of working as a DevOps engineer. This post will give the path to the aspiring DevOps engineer.

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