Reflections on Work/Life from a Start-up Data Engineer

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Written by, Jodie Zhou - LLUNA Data Engineer

When it comes to the end of a year, I always expect to be sentimental about how fast time passes by, but it’s important to reflect on all the meaningful moments too.

How it started

Back in April, I was two months away from my master’s graduation and nowhere close to a job offer, stuck in the middle of a pandemic. Luckily, at that time, I’d had two startup internship experiences, both related to data engineering and some full-stack experience in building web applications on a low-code platform called During those internships, I taught myself a ton and learned my way around with much help from the online developer communities. Wanting to give back, I wrote some blog posts on Medium to share my experiences and techniques I learned, and to my surprise, they got attention!

And that’s the start of how I ended up where I am today. One day, I received a LinkedIn message from Aaron, the CTO of a people-first startup called LLUNA aiming to create a platform supporting work designed for life. He reached out and asked if I was interested in knowing more about the company and mentioned they might have a spot that’s perfect for me. After a few rounds of interviews and a meeting with their amazing CEO Jess, I accepted an offer to start as a data engineer intern.

How it’s going

The journey with LLUNA started off smoothly with me getting familiarized with the company ideas, platform and product. My position was fully remote so I get to work from home in Seattle while my teammates are based on the east coast. During my internship, I always felt like more than that — I got to participate in the weekly all hands Tuesday team time meetings where we discussed the core agenda for this week and the upcoming product release and major updates. I also worked closely with Aaron in implementing tons of new features exciting our customers. The LLUNA culture is all anchored on the core values that spell the word FRESH: Freedom, Resourcefulness, Empathy, Simplicity, Happiness: I felt very proud to be part of it. Fast forward two months, LLUNA offered me a full-time position, and I accepted without hesitation because I knew this was the right place for me.

Where I’m headed

Things only got better after that, I started to work more independently in designing and developing functions and features, tweaking the database and creating new documentation. With more and more customers coming on board and seeing new user data flowing in, I can see how much value we are creating for them and improving their work/life harmony. One of my next steps is to elevate our internal and external analytics, combining both new and existing data sources.

Looking ahead to our next major release, I told Aaron that I wanted to learn some new things and that the Google Cloud professional data engineer certificate fit both our company’s roadmap and my own developmental goals and interests. He agreed immediately and encouraged me to pursue the certificate. After two months of study and preparation, I passed the exam and got the certificate. I am excited to see what new things I can help create for our customers!

Biggest learnings of the year

Looking back on the year, I feel a strong sense of accomplishment and am so grateful for the people I’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned. There’re a few key things that stand out:

  1. Don’t give up: I struggled for a long time to land on an internship during the pandemic but I did not give up. My advice: Don’t give up, there will always be hope. And once the opportunity presents itself, always go to sleep knowing you’ve given your best effort.
  2. Set your goals: Without a defined goal, you will feel like an unanchored ship floating on the ocean, not knowing where to go. If I did not set a personal deadline for my GCP certification, I might not have ever gotten it because it’s just too easy to procrastinate and find all kinds of excuses for yourself. The same thing applies to work too, find time to have a deep talk with your boss, set up your annual goals and work towards them.
  3. Taking a break is essential: Luckily, as a LLUNA employee, flexibility is written in the genes of the company and also encouraged by my bosses. They welcome the idea of taking breaks and believe it allows you to refresh your mind and get ready for the upcoming challenges. Burnout is real, but taking breaks is a great way to manage your mental well being.
  4. Be grateful: Everyday at work, I feel so happy to be part of the LLUNA mission and to be surrounded by people’s kindness and good spirits. Also, seeing as we’re still in the pandemic, I’m grateful for everything else I have: a healthy body, reliable friends and happy families.

Here’s to a wonderful year ahead, and if LLUNA sounds like a good spot for you, reach out! We’re hiring for Marketing and Full-Stack Engineering Roles.