2024-02-28
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Life at Cleo

What Do You Do? Frontend Engineer

Tara is a Frontend Engineer at Cleo. We caught up with her to learn more about her role, her love for Computer Science, and how she uses AI in her work.

What do you do? life at cleo tara wudhipan frontend engineer storytelling frontend design
IN THIS ARTICLE:

Tell us a bit about what you do

As a frontend engineer, my main role is to bring to life designs for user interfaces.

If you can interact with something on a screen, a frontend engineer like me probably hand a hand in building it.

My day-to-day? It’s all about refining work streams and breaking them down into deliverable chunks, implementing the exciting new features everyone loves (or hates, it’s not always a hole in one), and reviewing code from my teammates.

If there's one thing I really love, it's giving demos. Showing off our latest features, explaining the why, the how, and the who behind each little change. By the end, you might even find yourself getting a bit misty-eyed over our efforts. It's all about injecting a little bit of storytelling magic!

How did you first get into your field?

Growing up, my dad was always dismantling and reassembling computers and other electronics. You couldn’t step foot into our computer room without tripping over some cable or other part of a computer’s anatomy. So it was only a matter of time before I got to see him put together the various pieces of my very first PC, when I was only 7 years old.

Fast forward about a decade, and it was no surprise that I gravitated towards computing-focused courses at university. I ended up studying Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh. Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary field, so it’s mash-up of different areas, but for me, it boiled down to a blend of Computer Science, AI, and Linguistics.

For my final year dissertation, I developed a tablet game for autistic children, which led me to my first full-stack position at an accessibility-focused startup. It was the perfect first tech job. As part of a team of only three engineers, I got to work with and learn from experienced colleagues in a small team setting.

It was during this time that I discovered the frontend was the place for me, so when it came time to look for my next role, I decided I didn’t want it to be another full-stack one. I wanted to focus on frontend development.

What's your favourite project that you've worked on?

For the better part of the last year, one of my main focuses has been building out our prompt engineering pages. These are internal tools we use to interact with LLMs (large language models, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT) for automating Cleo’s responses in our app.

When we kicked off this project, there wasn't much out there to guide us, so it was pretty much a blank canvas for our designer to explore. Over several months, we’ve managed to build it up to do some really impressive stuff. From annotating real user conversations to guide the LLMs in learning what Cleo would and wouldn’t say, to providing them with enough user-specific context to personalise the messages we send our users, and even automating the evaluation of prompt quality.

With each step, our tooling has evolved, and the bigger picture has become clearer to our team. We've developed a shared understanding of our goals, sparking some incredibly engaging and exciting conversations about what lies ahead for us.

How has AI impacted your work?

I work in our Chat and Machine Learning pillar, so AI is very much at the core of what I do every day. For instance, the internal tooling mentioned above. It’s just one part of our larger quest to integrate Cleo with various LLMs — which are a type of AI — to enhance our chat feature, all while keeping Cleo's unique personality intact.

Outside of that, I use AI just like many other developers.

Struggling with some awkward logic because of a complicated piece of data? Let’s ask ChatGPT for a nudge in the right direction.

Trying, but failing, to get an automated test to pass? ChatGPT will probably have some hints.

Gotta put together some sort of long-form piece of writing and not just smash out code? ChatGPT to the rescue!

Something I’m really keen to try out next is GitHub Copilot. I’ve seen other developers use it, and I love how it picks up on your personal coding style to offer suggestions and help you write better code, faster.

Where can we find you when you're not working?

Probably walking my 6 month old mini schnauzer, Piper. She may be pint-sized, but I’m convinced she thinks she’s a labrador.

Back when my free time wasn’t dominated by a four-legged creature, I was likely juggling more home improvement and sewing projects than I’d care to admit. I love a bit of DIY, but let's just say I'm better at starting projects than finishing them!

Any advice for potential Cleo applicants?

When it comes to the interviews, try not to worry about covering absolutely everything you’ve ever done in your professional career. Focus on what’s relevant to the interview at hand.

After your first chat with our Talent team, there are three different interview stages, and each of those stages is designed to uncover specific parts of your experience and skillset.

For example, if you’re coming from a full-stack background but applying for a frontend role, try not to spend too long during the technical discussion talking about your accomplishments in the backend. Or similarly, during the practical exercise, we want to see that you can handle the bread and butter of frontend development. Focus on showcasing your test-writing skills, your Typescript knowledge or your styling abilities, rather than trying to make server-side changes. We’re here to assess how well you’d fit into our frontend chapter, so help us out by giving us what we need to do that.

If you want to know more about what goes down in a Cleo interview, you’re in luck, we’ve got a handy blog post that walks you through the whole process!

Interested in joining Cleo?

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Life at Cleo

Work Experience At Cleo

This summer, we asked students from the University of Nottingham to spend a week at Cleo. Safe to say we learnt more from them than they did from us!

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