Purply Profiles: Parker S on Fried Chicken, Surfing, and South Africa

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Testing, testing. Is this thing on? Ahh, perfect. We’re back with our second Purply employee profile today and I’m excited about this one. Last time I spoke with our Founder, Kyle, and today I’m having an amazing conversation with Purply’s very own Analyst, Parker S. 

Now, I’m still super new to the team and there are so many team members I have yet to meet, but I have had the pleasure of crossing digital Skype paths with Parker on multiple occasions. He’s not just a rockstar with data for the Purply team and a great resource for some of the more data-centered content I write, but also a surfer, traveler, fried chicken connoisseur, jokester, and plant parent. Did you know his plant, Jeff, won our Halloween costume contest?  

Whether he’s on client support calls, pulling data reports together, or catching a wave, Parker’s always on the move. Alright, enough of the intro. Let’s just get into the interview, yeah? Enjoy! 

Hey Parker, tell us a little about yourself. What are you up to on most days? What do you do for fun? Where are you from and what’s your background? 

I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and moved out to LA for college to attend UCLA, where I majored in cognitive science. In addition to UCLA, I enrolled in an 8-week data science program in Cape Town, South Africa. My work experience before Advertise Purple and Purply was mostly in data analytics and marketing. What I’ve been up to recently is really trying to take advantage of living in LA. When I’m not working, you can most likely find me outside, probably playing tennis (shoutout to Jake) or surfing. If I’m not outside, I’m probably on my couch watching the Broncos, Nuggets, or UCLA basketball. 

Okay, pause. You enrolled in a data science program in Cape Town, South Africa? That’s incredible! What was the cultural experience like? Most memorable moments?

I feel so fortunate that I was not only able to go there and explore the culture but also get really valuable learning and work experience. When I was there I tried a variety of local foods, including chicken feet, cow head, and biltong (some were better than others). Outside of eating my way through South Africa, I also got the chance to intern at a company there as a data analyst, which was an awesome opportunity and experience to learn about an international business. 

One of the most memorable moments was my roommate renting a manual transmission car and stalling about 30 times on our two-hour drive up the coast of the country (not to mention the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road). Only after we got back and returned the rental car did my roommate tell us that he had never driven a stick shift before. He had only watched a couple of YouTube videos the night before to teach himself. 

He didn’t tell you until after you reached safety?! Wow. Aside from the wild ride though, you still got to experience two months of Africa. Super cool. And getting back to UCLA, you were a pre-med major originally, right? That’s a heck of a transition to what you’re doing now! What inspired such a big life move? 

Right! I come from a family of health care providers and I entered UCLA thinking that I was going to become a doctor. I took all the pre-med classes and even worked for the UCLA Men’s Basketball team as a sports medicine intern for a year. However, partway through college, I decided to take some programming classes. I really enjoyed them and ended up going further down the programming rabbit hole. That, combined with the data science program I was part of in South Africa, opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of medicine and sent me on my current path. Meanwhile, I was working for a health tech startup in Santa Monica during college and helping out with their marketing and data analytics. This bridged the gap for me between healthcare and the marketing and tech world. I loved the work I was doing in marketing and analytics so much that I knew I wanted to continue working in the field.

It must have been a blast working with the UCLA basketball team and all, but that’s awesome you found what you loved doing through your experience in marketing and analytics. And what brought you to Advertise Purple (and, by proxy, Purply)?

Given my background in marketing and analytics, the Analyst position here at Advertise Purple was a perfect fit. I also had an interest in tech and product coming into my role, so as I started as an Analyst, I got to chatting with Rowland and the Tech team members about their work with PurplyApp. A few months later, a position opened up on the Tech team and I made the switch to PurplyApp Analyst. 

Tell us, what was it like finding a tech and analytics job at AP in the middle of a pandemic? Do you have any advice you’d give to others trying to do the same thing?

To be completely honest, the job search can be pretty brutal at times. It was filled with a lot of uncertainty. But ultimately, the advice I’d give is that there’s always something you can be doing to help your case, whether it’s reaching out to people on LinkedIn, talking to friends and family, or improving your skills. And, most importantly, stay positive! You never know when the right position is right around the corner.

Great advice, Parker. And since you did succeed and get this job during the pandemic (big congrats, by the way), I know you haven’t gotten to experience the company’s in-office culture yet. Same here, but we’ll get there. When the office does open back up again, what are you most excited for? 

I’m definitely excited to experience office life. I’m especially stoked for dogs in the office and ping pong. Honestly, I’m not sure how anyone gets work done. A lot of people talk a big ping pong game at Ad Purp, so I’m excited to see the competition. 

Absolutely. Well, we’ll see you at the ping pong table. Until then though, what has it been like working in your role? I know you wear a few different hats, but what does your average day look like?

Overall I’ve had an amazing experience on both the Analyst team and Tech team. I’ve felt fortunate to be working on such an exciting, fast-growing product in PurplyApp. Honestly, no two days are the same and I love that about my role. I could be on client support calls, planning out a new Purply feature, and digging through the database to pull together a report all in the same day. 

All that said, what’s the best thing about your job? Oh, and your favorite part of working here? 

Starting a job during a pandemic and going through the onboarding process 100% virtually isn’t easy, but luckily, I had a great cohort that I started with and we’ve remained close throughout our time at Advertise Purple. One of the best things about my job is the variety that it provides and the feeling of working on something exciting that’s growing quickly. Also, it’s really cool to feel that you have a direct impact on the product and the company. 

Totally. Speaking of growth, how do you feel you’ve grown in your role since starting here? And what are some goals you’ve set for yourself to continue that growth going forward? 

When I transitioned from the Analyst team to the Tech team, I kept half of my clients, so balancing the new workload and trying to absorb as much information as possible about the role was my first challenge. Once I adjusted to that, I’ve been able to contribute more and more to the growth of Purply. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to improve some of my technical skills in SQL and Python. I hope to continue building and improving Purply to best serve our clients and Ad Purp employees while also continuing to learn and grow along the way. 

Cheers to that. Alright, now let’s get into the really fun stuff. This is a question I asked myself (weird moment) for my profile, but I’ll ask it again since it’s a good one. What’s been your pandemic “survival kit” over the last year or so? Did it include food? A good playlist? Talk to us. 

I’d say food has been my savior during the pandemic. My roommate and I got really into trying different food spots around LA; everything from breakfast burritos to burgers, and especially fried chicken. Outside of that, getting outside and seeing friends has kept me sane. 

Surviving the pandemic by going on a tour of the best fried chicken spots in LA is an epic endeavor. E-p-i-c. What was it like? What are your best discoveries to date?

It’s honestly been a blast. Howlin’ Rays is still my #1 hot chicken spot in LA (with Dave’s as a close second), and Pikunico in downtown LA definitely has the most unique fried chicken sandwich. I highly recommend it. Le Coup is also up there. It was a Korean-style place that shut down a few months back (RIP), but I’m praying they open back up soon. 

Got it! I know what I’m eating this weekend. At least you’re still balancing your hobby of food exploration with physical activity. I hear you’re going on a surfing trip to Hawai’i soon! Nice. Are you psyched about it? How long have you been surfing? Have you always been an outdoorsy person? 

That’s correct! I’m very excited. This will be my first time visiting Hawai’i. I started surfing about 8 months ago and have been addicted ever since. Growing up in Boulder, I was always an outdoorsy person and loved sports, but had only surfed a couple of times before coming to LA. Now I try to get out and surf at least a couple of times a week before work or on weekends. 

Surfing is a great way to get out, and as someone from the islands, I’m a little biased, but Hawai’i will be an adventure. So, outside of all that outside stuff, is it true that you also develop black and white film photos? How did you get into that and what do you love taking photos of? 

I used to develop my own black and white film, but now I mostly shoot digital. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved taking photos, especially while traveling. I’m especially drawn to city scenes and capturing moments of everyday life that people may not initially notice.

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It’s been a blast, Parker. Thank you so much for chatting with me about everything from your experience at Purply and Advertise Purple to the thrills of “driving” stick shift in South Africa. And I’m sure I’m not the only one that will benefit from your best fried chicken spots in LA guide, either! 

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