Humans of Lob: Robin Joseph

Humans of Lob is a project dedicated to getting to know our Lobsters on an individual level. For our fifth entry, we sat down with Software Engineer Robin Joseph.

Explain to me what your childhood was like and what you were like then.

We’re from good ol’ Mesquite, Texas. I was born and raised there. When I first started kindergarten, I was super shy. That’s why I go by “Rah-bin” even though my parents and my family call me “Roh-bin”. I never wanted to correct anybody because I had an insane lisp where I would say “Woh-bin” instead of “Roh-bin”. I rarely wanted to talk about anything, and I was like that for a good amount of time all throughout elementary school. I was like, the “smart kid”. That’s what I focused on. My brother was super smart, and so I thought I had to be smart like him.

One of my close friends from church is way more outgoing than I am. Significantly so. I became a little more outgoing because we were friends and we were always together. Throughout my childhood, it was me, him, and another one of our friends. All three of us were Indian. We were called the Three Wise Men all throughout middle school and high school. That’s kind of what we became. We embraced that.

I did a whole bunch of extracurricular stuff in high school, like joining BPA.

What is BPA?

It stands for Business Professionals of America. Under BPA there are a whole bunch of categories you can compete in.

What did you compete in?

I did computer animation. Our high school didn’t have any Computer Science classes. BPA was the closest I could get to CS. I gravitated towards that. I was trying as hard as I could to get to programming and CS, but there was always that wall in-between because I didn’t have the resources to learn. We actually won second place in the nation with our animation my senior year. NBD.

How did you become an engineer then?

I went into college not even knowing what CS was, but I did it because it was related to computers (and my brother was doing it).

When I took my Intro to Programming course at University of Texas – Dallas, it was a huge eye-opener for me. I learned the full potential of what Computer Science really means. It was the coolest thing ever. A friend and I started doing a lot on our own after that.

One thing that always appealed to us was the ability to make a game. We started dabbling in Android development and we wanted to build out a mobile game. It was like “Oh, Android’s written in Java… I’m learning Java… That’s got to be the same thing, right?!” Oh my gosh, it’s not. It was the worst. We couldn’t wrap our heads around what was happening. I still haven’t ever finished developing a game, but I really want to. That’s one of my dreams, to build an indie game.

What’s your favorite game?

I like a lot of the classic games. I grew up with a PS1, so I like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon and Mega Man. Mega Man was the best.

Pokémon, oh my gosh! Red and Blue were the best. Both my brother and I had it and we would play through it together and battle each other after certain milestones in the game so that we’d be at the same level.

So, for the readers, what do you do here at Lob?

I’m a software engineer here.

Yes, but what exactly do you do? What sorts of things do you work on here at Lob?

I’ve been here for 2.5 years, so I’ve been working on a whole bunch of different stuff. When I first started working at Lob there were no product-specific engineering teams. Everybody would work on whatever interested them, which was cool. I got to play around. That’s how I first started learning Elasticsearch. I built out search from the ground up when I first started here.

Then there was a huge webhooks project that I worked on for a good amount of time. After that, teams started forming. I joined Team Atlas and started working on Address Verification and we got CASS-certified. After that, we didn’t need as many resources for Address Verification, so I was looking to switch.

Based on my past history and the kind of stuff I like to work on, my knowledge base, and where I would be most impactful, I gravitated towards Team Platform, so I switched to Platform. Platform is everything underneath Print & Mail and Address Verification, so all the stuff that’s shared between them. It’s a fairly large bucket, so it includes things like search, webhooks, Dashboard, lob.com, security, infrastructure, and user authentication.

What project are you proudest of working on a Lob?

Probably webhooks because there were a lot of architectural pieces that needed to be built from scratch to be able to support the expected load effectively. None of it existed before. Our customers needed a way to be able to know when their mail was in the mail stream, being delivered, getting rerouted and so forth.

We knew that several of our customers had created pulling methods to check every single day for new tracking events. This made it apparent that customers definitely needed a better solution like webhooks.

We finally completed it in Dec 2016. It was pretty exciting. It was a huge project, at least on the infrastructure side. It was super exciting and really rewarding.

Photos by fellow Lobster, Anthony Chen.