Samantha Rydzewski | Tecton


Featured Tectonaut:

Samantha Rydzewski

We are happy to announce a new blog series here at everyone’s favorite feature store – Featured Tectonauts . In this blog series, we will be highlighting the amazing characters we get to interact with daily here at Tecton. Want to join the team? Check out our open positions here.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I’ve been doing synchronized skating since I was 10. It’s a pretty niche sport, but just think figure skating with 16 people on the ice at once. When I was a toddler, my mom got me into skating, and I’m very much a team person, so synchronized skating was a perfect fit. I competed in college on UMass’s synchronized skating team, and now I just joined an adult team in SF! Skating has always made me feel very at home, so it’s nice being able to continue it after having moved so far from my hometown in upstate NY.

What do you do at Tecton? What does your team do?

I’m a software engineer on Tecton’s Product Engineering team, and we primarily work on the customer-facing aspects of Tecton’s feature store. One thing I’ve recently been working on is updating and simplifying the APIs customers use to fetch their features from the offline and online store. We recently formed two teams within Product Engineering, and my team’s name is Feature Operations Experience (FOX!). We’ll be focusing on the operational experience of Tecton and working closely with customer MLOps teams.

What did you do before Tecton?

I was in school! I just graduated this spring from Amherst College, where I majored in computer science and mathematics. I was very interested in machine learning and AI and wrote my senior thesis on adversarial machine learning. Outside of courses, I also did a lot of dance and figure skating at school as well. I really enjoyed my time at college, and I’m still getting used to this whole adulting thing.

What led you to a startup?

When I was looking for internships in my junior year, I wanted to intern at a startup to see if I liked the environment. I also thought I’d learn a lot more working at a startup than a larger company since I’d be doing full-stack work. I ended up interning at a small startup called Uncountable, which makes an enterprise data management platform for R&D scientists.

I really enjoyed my time there. I liked how small the team was and how visible other parts of the business were outside of engineering. The development time was fast, and I was able to work on multiple projects.

One of my projects was to build out a lab equipment management feature for the platform. This was a completely new feature and required me to implement everything from the database to Web UI; as an intern, that was very exciting and a great learning experience. I found that my skills as a software engineer in general exponentially grew. I gained new technical skills, like React, and a deep understanding of engineering processes and the development life cycle. That was one of the main reasons I decided to work at a start-up after graduation. I knew I could learn a lot fast and grow my confidence as a software engineer. I love people too, so it is nice to be able to work closely with the whole company. Also, building something new is really cool!

Favorite software package or favorite tool you’ve ever used software or not.

Notion! We use it here at Tecton, but I had a personal account before I joined. I find it so visually satisfying and useful. I use Notion to organize so much of my life. For example, my roommate and I have a shared apartment page. I’m also the type of person where if I don’t write something down, I’ll never do it. Therefore I’m very into using the reminder feature on Notion and like it a lot better than the normal iPhone reminders app.

Also, a special shoutout to the Tabby Cat chrome plug-in! When you open a new tab, it shows you a cute animal each time. A very simple tool, but it brings me much joy.

Best swag you’ve ever received?

In my junior year of college, I attended a Google info session at my school led by a few alumni. Not many people showed up, so in the end, they were just randomly giving away swag to everyone. I happened to get a whole Google duffle bag that became my go-to travel bag.

Unfortunately, I no longer have that bag. I took it with me abroad to Budapest in the spring of 2020. As you can guess, covid hit and I had to rush home. I forgot the bag was under my bed, and now it remains in Budapest. I hope my old landlord is enjoying it.

What stickers are on your laptop?

I don’t have any stickers on my work laptop yet, but I have a bunch on my personal laptop. I have a Tecton, Google, and Spotify sticker. I also have a sticker from an all-women hackathon I attended at UMass. There’s a purple Amherst mammoth which is my college’s mascot. I also have stickers from Banff, Canada, which I visited about four years ago. I have an alpaca from the Wooden Table Cafe in Oakland. Their cookies are really tasty, I recommend! Then I have a sticker of Taylor Swift’s 2021 Grammy dress because I’m a huge swiftie. Last but not least, I have eight corgi stickers. I have a corgi of my own named Kaylee, and she’s my favorite thing in the world!

If you had to delete all but three apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep? (Three apps that have changed your life).

Number one is TikTok. I’m very obsessed and spend way too much time on it every day. People are so funny on Tiktok, and I just can’t give it up. I will also admit to knowing my share of Tiktok dances as well. Number two would be the music app for obvious reasons. Music is amazing; who can’t live without it. Today I happen to be listening to 90s R&B as I work. Number three is Instagram. I like seeing everyone’s posts, and it makes it easy to keep up with a lot of friends I don’t see often. Also, the memes are great.


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