eSpark Learning

Senior+ Data Engineer

Job description

Overview

eSpark Learning puts fun and effective learning experiences in the hands of more than a million K-5 students around the USA, and can be found in 1-in-4 schools. After back to back years of 40+% revenue growth, we are looking to apply this success to our engineering organization and double our size in the next year so that we can further accelerate the growth of the business. In light of this, we are excited for a senior data engineer to join the team to lead the redesign of our data and analytics architecture, contribute to its successful buildout, and continue to grow as a software engineer and technical leader.

The Role

As a Senior+ Data Engineer, you’ll join our engineering organization, reporting to the Director of Engineering, and drive the vision, architecture, and implementation of our future data tech stack –spanning event design and streaming, warehousing, large scale processing / ETL, orchestration, testing, and scaling– in order to make the lives of our data scientists easier, insights more readily available to teams and teammates across the company, and ultimately the lives of teachers, students, principals better through your efforts. You’ll split your time between building data infrastructure, and contributing to pipelines that produce data-as-product for other stakeholders.

What’s this about Senior+? We welcome candidates at the senior level or above, and will adjust title accordingly with experience.

There are three tenets all members of the team are expected to hold and embody:

  • We carry a growth mindset and drive our own development.
  • We believe that we do our best work when collaborating closely with others.
  • We care more deeply about the problems we’re solving than how they’re solved.

We believe that excitement to learn, a readiness to work together collaboratively, and good scientific and technical fundamentals are more important to success at eSpark than past experience with specific technologies or methodologies — we are always ready to support new staff on the technologies we use. For context, the applications our students and teachers use are built with Elm and Typescript on the frontend and Ruby on Rails on the backend (all covered by tests), running on top of Docker. Currently, our production data are stored in MySQL, and our business intelligence pipelines run in DBT and Redshift. We are excited for a future where we move more of our data processing upstream, into an event-first architecture that connects seamlessly with our Rails monolith.

Technology

  • Lead the creation of a data architecture that enables data science to learn from how users interact with our products, feature teams to provide performant and accurate user experiences, and the company to understand core business metrics
  • Contribute to the design and implementation of tooling that helps us accelerate the speed and improve the quality of experimentation
  • Support efforts to improve data quality and coverage across our knowledge graph
  • Work closely with product and data science to identify and deliver business critical datasets that measure key performance indicators, illustrate student growth, provide insights into classroom activity, and showcase school / district usage
  • Identify and prioritize ways of making our technology more resilient in low-bandwidth environments (which often affect low-income or rural users)
  • Improve the signals we use to understand each student’s learning needs and how we adapt styles dynamically to keep them on track

Team

  • Be a positive role model by helping create a safe and inclusive team environment
  • Provide perspective on team practices to aid in continuous improvement
  • Surface and address, where appropriate, obstacles proactively so the team maintains a predictable and sustainable pace
  • Support the growth of peers through practices like documentation, code review, and team presentations
  • Participate in sourcing and interviewing candidates to grow a talented, collaborative, ego-free team

Strategy

  • Help create and evangelize the “story” of our vision for data at eSpark, connecting its work to the larger mission of the company and business priorities
  • Drive team discussion and creation of objectives, metrics, and execution strategies
  • Be a leader in the collaborative, sound technical decision-making by engineers in the organization
  • Understand how technology, and data in particular, reflects and amplifies biases and power structures to guide decisions so that our products are safe and equitable for our students and teachers

Benefits and Policies. In addition to a competitive salary and stock options, eSpark offers full healthcare coverage (including vision, dental, and mental health benefits), generous vacation and parental leave policies. We are a fully-distributed company (circa March 2020) and provide benefits around outfitting your home-office arrangement, including your choice of technical equipment. We believe in work-life balance and respect nights and weekends.

The Interviews

The eSpark engineering team’s approach to interviewing is built on transparency, as we believe that everyone has a better, more productive experience when expectations are clear. For this role, we are looking for candidates who meet four specific criteria:

  • Well-versed in modern data engineering practice – You are knowledgeable about common approaches to data engineering at our scale (now and in the near future), and have demonstrated an ability to keep up with the state of the art
  • Skilled software engineer and architect – You can translate your vision for a modern data architecture into the infrastructure and code to make it a reality
  • Strong technical leader – You have the skills to communicate your vision to teammates, and support others in those pursuits
  • Capable strategic partner – You are quick to comprehend business and product context, allowing you to contribute to what we’re doing and why, with the ability to recognize and fill in the gaps as needed

To learn about these four areas, and you in a general sense, we conduct three one-hour interviews with various teammates from eSpark, from engineering and beyond. We also ask for three references, to complete a full picture of you as a candidate, from past managers and peers. Written feedback or evaluations are also acceptable substitutes. We also recognize that not everyone has enjoyed a complete history of healthy working environments, and we are keen to work with you to identify appropriate individuals who can speak to your strengths and areas for growth.

About eSpark

Vision. Our vision is that every student, regardless of their circumstances or background, has the opportunity to set and realize an ambitious dream for themselves. Our mission is to re-imagine learning so it's student centered, enabling students to succeed in school and life.

Impact. Our work makes a significant difference in students' lives. Independent testing data from public school districts across the country consistently show that students learn more in areas of personalized study with eSpark. One researcher from MIT, who evaluated an eSpark in Boston Public Schools, wrote: “I find strong positive, significant effects of eSpark for both math and English Language Arts (ELA). So the eSpark intervention, which is just 30 minutes a day, led to almost half the effect of a full year in a high performing charter school. I view these as very impressive gains. The findings made a substantial dent into the black-white achievement gap.”

Diversity. At eSpark, we believe all people—adults and students alike—deserve respect for who they are. We work hard to make eSpark an environment in which everyone can thrive and succeed, supporting employees as individuals through people-centric management and as a company with our IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) employee resource group. We believe it is critical that our team reflects the student populations we aim to serve.

Pandemic. The 2020-2021 school year has been a time of unprecedented challenges for teachers, students, parents, and schools.

We believe — and have seen in last spring and fall — that eSpark’s personalized curriculum, made of fun and educational games and videos and adapted to each student; our commitment to providing teachers the tools and live support they need to support both remote and in-person learning; and our engaged team focused together on supporting educators and learners, can be a powerful help to teachers and to the students most at risk of falling behind during the pandemic.

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