As a site reliability engineer, it’s Jennifer Cheng’s job to make sure Google Photos runs smoothly
Jennifer Cheng started out with a degree in electrical engineering at the University of NSW before deciding she was more interested in computers and switching to computer engineering.
“I really enjoy designing and creating something I can play with, like a game or a robot,” says Jennifer, who started programming at uni, and says she has taught herself most of the coding languages she uses.
Jennifer completed software engineering internships at Canva (an Aussie-founded graphic design software platform) and Google (which needs no intro) during her degree, then landed a graduate gig at Google, where she now works as a site reliability engineer (SRE).
Jennifer works on Google Photos, improving the “debuggability” of the service, she explains. Being an SRE is about problem-solving, explains Jennifer. “In general, an SRE team is responsible for availability, latency, performance, efficiency, change management, monitoring, emergency response, and capacity planning.”
For example, during some big annual festivals people are more likely to take lots of photos, so SREs like Jennifer are responsible for predicting usage, ensuring the service remains stable, and are also on-call for any urgent issues.
“My favourite thing about my job as an SRE at Google is the opportunity to work on and maintain a product on such a large scale, not only focusing on building features, but also improving the product as a whole,” she says.
Jennifer is excited about opportunities in tech, especially in computer vision and graphics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Her dream is to one day “create and lead a product with a billion users,” she says.
Her words of advice? “Interest and courage are the most important things to power your career.”
Jennifer’s study and career pathway
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Computer), UNSW
- Software engineer intern, Canva
- Software Engineer, Google
- Backend Engineer, Canva
- Software Engineer and Site Reliability Engineer, Google
- 5 minutes with a Google Security Engineer
- Meet a Google Software Engineer
- A day in the life of a Customer Engineer
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.