( ENSPIRE Interviews) Lauren Glass Talks Breaking into the Tech Industry, Goals, and Book Series in an Exclusive Interview with ENSPIRE Magazine
ENSPIRE Contributor: Natalie Wong
Lauren Glass is a data engineer currently working at Instagram and the creator and author of the “Data Mastery Coding” book series. Glass is described as a “mover and shaker” in the social media world and has experience working at the top places like Facebook and currently Instagram. With passions to help other “techies” start their careers, she created an easy-to-follow resource book to help aspiring beginners reach their entrepreneurial goals and score positions at top companies in the tech industry.
Behind the glitz and glam we often see online, Glass hopes to shine a light on the real skills and effort, as well as the characteristics, that help people go far in the tech industry. She is passionate to share her vast experience and advice. Now available on paperback and Kindle, the “Data Mastery Coding” provides actionable resources about SQL & PYTHON, and information on syntax and interview questions any beginner needs to succeed in data projects and interviews. ENSPIRE Magazine speaks with Lauren Glass to understand her path and the unique personal and professional insights she gained working at the social media companies.
What is your background and how did you start your career in the tech industry?
I graduated from the University of Washington in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics (math and statistics meet economic theory). During one of my last semesters, I had finished most of my required coursework and took an elective called data programming in computer science where we learned Python and used it for various mathematical projects. This was almost 10 years ago so the industry was still fairly new but this was my first entry into the world of data science and engineering. I loved how I could combine analytics and engineering. The Economics Department at my school at the time fed into the Data Science Department at Zillow. I was hired after graduation to work in Data at Zillow where many of my colleagues were my former TA’s from college. There I learned a lot about databases, data warehousing, product analytics, and engineering which set me up for the rest of my career at other large companies such as Check Point, Facebook, and Instagram.
What was your role working at Facebook and what were some takeaways from your experience?
I’m a data engineer which means I’m specialized in the performant and optimized processing of information to make sure my team is delivering the best possible product to our users—this is true anywhere. After seven years working in the industry on various products, my main takeaway is the users are in charge. That’s what product analytics is all about—let’s see what the users prefer. If you like a product, use it. If you don’t like a product, that will show up in the aggregate data and companies will adapt. Continue to be vocal about what’s important to you.
On top of being an Instagram Data Engineer, you manage 6.6k of your own followers on Instagram. How has being a Data Engineer for Instagram impacted or changed your perspective on how you use social media and manage a following?
In each role I’ve had working at different companies, it’s always a perspective shift when you see behind the curtain. Just like when watching a theatrical performance it all seems magical and when performing in one you know the nuts and bolts of the operation. I used to focus so much on optimizing and trying to intuit how to build a big following. However now, I prefer to reach out and communicate in a way that is authentic to myself. I honestly use social media less and I think that’s a healthy thing. We have seen many tech companies encourage this such as the “You’re All Caught Up” on various feeds and operating systems like Apple reporting screen time. Now more than ever I focus on moderation and authenticity.
What led you to write your Data Mastery Coding book series?
One of my best friends works in Business Development and wanted to be able to access and process internal data for herself before speaking with clients. She asked to take one of the SQL classes I previously taught but we never had time to sit down and get started due to both of us having busy schedules. So I started writing up my notes for her and realized this material would do really well as a book! I have a talent for being able to boil subjects down to bite sizes which helps people get started so I focused my attention on 3 subjects that are essential to any data work: SQL, Python, and Product Analytics.
What are some of your goals for the future?
Short term my goal is to finally publish my last book, Data Mastery—Product Analytics. Long term I would love to start my own tech company. I’ve always dreamed of being a CTO and leading product vision. I consistently build passion projects and hopefully one day one of them will catch fire.
For more advice on how to break into the tech industry as a beginner, visit Lauren’s website at laurenglass.me/data-mastery and follow her on Instagram at @lauren__glass.