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Amanda Chow

I like the diversity of the work—We have clients in many different sectors working on unique problems.

What's your job about?

I work with our core Palantir products and customize them to the needs of individual clients. This includes configuring different products to work together, maintaining our clients’ product stacks, using our products to set up specific workflows for our clients, communicating/working with our internal product teams to improve core products, and interacting with clients to gauge their specific needs.

 What's your background?

I grew up in North Reading, Massachusetts in the United States. During my senior year of high school, I received a scholarship that included a 10-week internship at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, then I attended the University of California Berkeley, where I majored in Computer Science. During university I interned at Twitter for two summers, working on product safety. During the first summer, I worked on web development and created a new settings page. During the second summer, I worked on data processing and created a methodology for finding fake Twitter accounts.

Palantir reached out to me the summer before my third year at university through LinkedIn. I really enjoyed learning more about the company and meeting many Palantir engineers during the interview process, and I signed on for a software engineering internship in summer 2016. My internship went great—I worked on one of our core product teams, doing backend development and improving the metadata storage service on one of our existing data storage products. I decided to return as a full-time hire after graduation, and I started in May 2017.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes—My job would not require a computer science degree if someone is self-taught. I’ve met many self-taught Palantir employees who are doing technical work but majored in a non-technical field during college. I think if someone has basic technical knowledge (basic understanding of computers, ability to read code, debugging skills, etc.) everything else can be picked up. That being said, willingness to try new things and learn new skills out of your comfort zone is very important! However, understanding of databases, data processing tools (such as Spark), low-level debugging (issues with memory, CPU, etc.) would be extremely helpful for my role.

 What's the coolest thing about your job?

I like the diversity of the work—We have clients in many different sectors working on unique problems. This means there are many opportunities for me to join different teams and learn different things during my time at Palantir. During my day-to-day, I like working in small, dynamic teams because it gives each individual a rewarding level of responsibility and ownership. It is also rewarding to meet with clients to see how your work has improved the way they do their jobs.

 What are the limitations of your job?

Teams at Palantir are relatively isolated and you often don’t need to interact that much with other teams. However, we’re working with products built by other Palantir teams, who aren’t familiar with our circumstances and also are often in other time zones. This can sometimes lead to long work hours debugging products and trying to understand code written by other people.

There is definitely also a frustrating learning curve since we use all internal products, but Palantir people are always very helpful and friendly to new hires!

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Don’t stop yourself from taking interesting courses because they’re not directly related to your career field or because you’re nervous they might negatively impact your grade.
  • Have a life outside your career field—whether that means doing an interesting minor/double major, joining a student organization, learning a new sport, or just spending more time with friends. Not only does it make university more fun and enjoyable, but it’ll also teach you to do a better job of multitasking and balancing your life. Having other obligations encourages you to work more efficiently and will prepare you to have a good work-life balance after university.
  • Meet other students in your career field. Knowing some other students in your classes makes it much easier when you have questions, need a project partner, or study for exams. And knowing the senior students in your field is a great way to get relevant advice when you are in the first or second year of university. Also, studying with others and receiving and giving advice is a great way of improving your field’s student community.