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Tyler Kieft

Tyler Kieft '09

Major: Electrical and computer engineering
Company: Instagram
Title: Engineering Manager
Field of Work: Engineering

What do you do?

I manage a team of software engineers that is responsible for the stability, security, and performance of the Instagram mobile apps on Android and iOS. We support the core components of the app (image and video caching, analytics, networking) to ensure that engineers building new features can write high-quality code in an efficient manner. As any piece of software gets larger (by adding features), it will often become slower for various reasons; my team makes sure that doesn't happen!

How did you become interested in your field?

I have always loved to write code—someone gave me a floppy disk containing QBasic in second grade and I've been hooked ever since.

What skills are vital for success in your field?

A strong analytical sense is necessary to write great code, but software engineers are so much more valuable when they have other skills as well. The ability to understand the market for your software, determine the highest-impact thing to work on every day, and communicate with other people to get it built will really make you stand out.

What experiences, internships, study, or previous jobs helped you get to your current position?

My most valuable experience was starting my own company after graduation, with two cofounders. I spent a lot of time writing code, but more important was the experience I gained as a founder, directing the business and helping to define the product we were building. That experience served me very well at Instagram, especially when the company was small and still 'figuring it out'. I also had internships at IBM in college, which taught me how to work in a large codebase with many legacy systems.

What advice do you have for current students interested in your field?

Build something! It will help you to gain experience, and it will give you something to show recruiters and interviewers at the company you want to work for. Anyone can get a job writing code, no matter your 'official' qualifications, as long as you can prove that you're a great engineer.