A Day in the Life of Xuewei Zhao, Software Engineer at Smarkets

By November 19, 2018Day in the Life Series

What do you do and how did you get there?

I studied machine learning at Imperial. I wanted to do machine learning because I believe big data is the future in computer science. Whilst it’s not related to my current job directly, I can apply a lot of what I learned to my work.

How do you spend your day?

I usually get to write code all day which makes me happy. Occasionally we have interviews and meetings, but not too many to keep me from my job during the day. My colleagues are great, I have learned a lot from them and we’re quite social. We have lunch everyday together and take a tea break or two!

What’s the biggest challenge?

Learning new languages is challenging. I’ve learned four languages since I’ve been here: Python, JavaScript, C++ and Erlang.

What’s the best part of your role?

I’ve been at Smarkets almost three years, and I’ve worked in three teams since I’ve been here. I’ve been fortunate to work in our core Exchange team which is backend work then I’ve done front end and also worked in technical marketing. I’m lucky because I get involved in loads of new projects. In front end, we were deciding to rewrite the whole website using React which was very new at the time (and still is). As a team, we did two main things at that point. We spent one month fully understanding the old system then one month doing a prototype. It was a learning as no one had any experience with React at the time. Then we rewrote the whole website piece by piece. It was only the first year of my career and was a great chance for me to investigate more areas of this industry before I got into one specific role.

I do completely different work now and working in the Exchange team is at the core of what we do.

Exchange handles most of the activities that happen on the website; how people make bets, how those bets are matched and when the event is finished, how their bets are settled. There is really technically challenges because you handle real time data and it’s large scale data. Both of these are difficult to do. We are now rewriting in c++ which is new to the company and building more of a financial trading system rather than limiting it to betting.

What qualities are needed to excel in your role?

Good coding habits, or if you haven’t much commercial experience, a willingness to learn and get feedback on your code. Collaboration is important to us and from a technical perspective, you need to be good at solving problems and recognise that with a system like ours, the quality of code you’re writing is key. We always test our code.

Any advice for someone applying for a role like yours?

Be open to new challenges! My colleagues at Smarkets continually challenge me. A lot of companies have legacy code, and you can’t expect everything that you work on to be perfect. Sometimes engineers expect to only write new code but that’s not realistic.

Join the ever growing team at Smarkets

Why should someone be excited about working in your role or company?

I have benefited a lot from the self-management aspect of Smarkets as I’ve been able to work on so many different technical problems without previous experience. As a graduate joining a company, the three years here have included lots of genuine learning. I am able to have an opinion and make comments in meetings where in bigger companies I may not have had that chance. I am able to implement my ideas. The relationships between employees are close and I’ve made friends here. People are more than just colleagues here.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

I’m not sure just yet, but my goal is to keep learning more and more

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your job?

It’s never boring! Having been in three teams in three years, there’s great opportunities to learn.

Interested in joining the ever growing team at Smarkets? Check out their live roles now.

Author Aoife Geary

Aoife Geary is the Content Editor at Jobbio specialising in the areas of Workplace Culture, Diversity, Startups and Digital Trends. She's partial to a burrito, a bad pun and living way beyond her means.

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