Meet Jason Bao, Verkada Software Engineer New Grad
Not your typical new grad experience
At a glance
Sub-team within Engineering: Backend Engineer
Date joined Verkada: July 2019
Previous companies: Facebook, Bridgewater Associates
University: University of California, Berkeley
What’s different about working at Verkada?
Before coming to Verkada I interned at Facebook and Bridgewater Associates, so I understand the “typical” experience of a newly graduated engineer in the workplace. And what really stands out about Verkada is the amount of autonomy you get right away. For instance, I’m the only backend engineer on my team, which means I’m responsible for all the deadlines and solutions for my projects. At a big company like Facebook, if you really wanted to learn about something, you would go to a class or read documentation about it. Here, you learn by doing.
“At a big company like Facebook, if you really wanted to learn about something, you would go to a class or read documentation about it. Here, you learn by doing.”
Another unique aspect of Verkada is the cross-functional collaboration and accessibility. I regularly talk to the project managers, frontend engineers, firmware engineers, etc. Being able to see the entire stack of the project makes it easy to voice your opinions, like, “Hey, I think it would make more sense to build this way.” It feels like you’re actually integral to the company, that you have a real say.
What’s the hardest problem you recently solved? Who else was involved?
Because our software is still kind of new, we’re actively building out new services. For me, that meant setting up my Jenkins task, AWS containers, cloud formation templates, and everything like that — all the infrastructure stuff I had no experience with. So James, one of the co-founders, helped walk me through it all. That was cool because as a backend engineer, you typically only see the backend. But being able to see all the infrastructure gave me a more comfortable grasp of the whole system, and James taking the time to help me meant a lot.
“being able to see all the infrastructure gave me a more comfortable grasp of the whole system, and James taking the time to help me meant a lot.”
I never felt like a burden to him or anything like that — even though what he did was not in his job description at all. That’s how it is here. Whoever you think is the expert on a certain topic, you just reach out to them, have a conversation, and follow up anytime you have questions. Maybe people are just kind, I don’t know. But the collaboration makes us a lot more efficient, because there’s less bureaucracy involved in terms of getting answers.
Tell me about a big decision you made recently on your own
Something that we haven’t really had in place are WebSockets for client-server communications or server-camera communications. So for the last month or two I’ve been creating two new services. One is to manage WebSocket connections between the client and the server, and the other is to manage WebSocket connections between the server and the camera. The work has involved a lot of big design decisions — how many open Pub/Sub connections you have, how you manage your list of WebSocket connections. And while I’ve had a lot of help designing the system, I’ve been the driving person on the project.
You go as far as you can, and once you hit a roadblock, then a senior member will step in and help reason through options
At Verkada, your higher-ups play an advisory role more than anything. You go as far as you can, and once you hit a roadblock, then a senior member will step in and help reason through options. But you have to come up with questions and articulate what you’re having issues with. The process really helps you grow. I’m constantly being pushed to learn.
Who at Verkada has taken a special interest in your success or development?
When I first joined, the person who mentored me directly was Berco — that’s what we call Benjamin Bercovitz, one of the co-founders. For the first month I was working with him on a cool side project that he wanted to fix. Even being someone junior, I felt really respected. I understood right away that good ideas are valued here — not just status or rank. It’s empowering to feel like your higher-ups have faith in you. I’m optimistic about what I can do and what I can accomplish moving forward.
Interested in joining the Verkada team?