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Rory Charlton

The very best thing about my job is that without the stuff that I do, the security of the place where I work would be dramatically worse off.

What's your job about?

I deploy, maintain, and extend our products to the needs of a cyber security client. I help maintain the data lineage to give them the ability to respond to incidents and predict threats. I go on the client site three or four days a week for a couple of hours at a time, in order to meet our users, and work with them to develop tailored data pipelines that allow them to realise their objectives. The rest of the time I’m developing our own pipelines, deploying our own products, and building out custom tooling where necessary.

What's your background?

I grew up in Brisbane and went to the University of Queensland. I interned with Palantir from December 2015 to February 2016, and decided to come back full-time because I couldn’t imagine another place giving me the same responsibility and exposure to really, really hard problems, at my level. Although I’m a graduate, I have had a huge amount of responsibility straight away, which gives me a massive opportunity to learn in a way that I wouldn’t elsewhere. On top of this, the problems are pretty cool; they’re really high-impact problems.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Sure! I’m not even a trained software engineer. You just need to be persistent and have a very procedurally oriented mindset. A lot of people could be software engineers, programmers, or anything technical – it’s really just the way you approach a particular problem set.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The very best thing about my job is that without the stuff that I do, the security of the place where I work would be dramatically worse off. The institution would be hugely exposed to security vulnerabilities if it weren’t for the basic groundwork that Palantir provides responding to current incidents and preventing future ones. It’s pretty ‘real world’ stuff. The company outcomes in general, are really meaningful.

What are the limitations of your job?

I do work long hours, but I still have to be very mercenary in the way I prioritise. I can’t solve all the problems I want to – nobody can. There are too many things to do and too little time to do them. I have to be very cold about saying no, even to projects I’d like to work on.

Three pieces of advice that you’d give to your younger self as a student?

  • Take everything way less seriously – it’s university!
  • When it comes to learning things, learn for the sake of truly understanding the thing that you’re set up to do. The grade at the end of the day doesn’t mean anything. Having the knowledge to repeatedly solve a problem is a lot more valuable than getting an A (and will ultimately make you happier, too).
  • Deliberately grow your network more aggressively. There have been a few situations where I haven’t been able to solve a problem, or haven’t known a solution, and I’ve been able to call someone to help. The bigger the network, the easier this process becomes.