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Beyond Expertise: Content Creator Joseph “Rillo” Cirillo


Joseph Cirillo, a software engineer who later became a content creator, shares his experience working at NASA and his positive mindset in facing life challenges. 

Joseph Cirillo, a software engineer who later became a content creator, shares his experience working at NASA and his positive mindset in facing life challenges.

As a former software engineer contracted with NASA, Joseph Cirillo has dedicated the past five and a half years supporting the EXO Mars Rover project, which is the next rover going to Mars. Now, he is a content creator with 339K TikTok followers, 102K Instagram followers, and 85K YouTube subscribers. On his channels, Joseph produces captivating content across various topics, including tech, product introductions, testing, desk setups, and more. You can also find him on Twitch streaming his favorite games.

Continue reading as Joseph shares the challenges he encountered and how he turned risk into an opportunity for chasing his dreams.

Unveiling the Life of a Software Engineer at NASA


Q: What were some of your daily tasks as a software engineer working for NASA?

A: The primary part of the rover that I was working on was called the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA). This instrument, working in tandem with others on the rover, conducted sample analysis by digging into the Martian surface, collecting dirt samples, heating them, converting them into gas, and conducting a comprehensive analysis. My main responsibility involved developing software for scientists to study the sample's contents. I collaborated with them daily to understand their data analysis requirements, and enhance the software tools utilized for rover testing.


Q: What is the most interesting and challenging part of being a software engineer?

A: I find the most interesting and challenging part of my work at NASA to be the fact that many of the tasks we undertake have never been done before. While there were numerous resources available today to address fundamental issues, working at NASA often involves devising solutions for unprecedented problems. This constant need for innovation and problem-solving fueled my drive to enhance our software.
The decision to work at NASA stemmed from a pivotal moment during my post-college job search. Although I had already secured a job at another company, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to interview with NASA, which eventually became my future employer. The conversations I had with my interviewers were engaging, and the projects they discussed were incredibly fascinating. It's not every day that one gets the chance to contribute to endeavors involving other planets or space exploration in general. This unique and challenging nature of the work at NASA captured my interest, ultimately leading me to choose this exciting path.

"Embrace the uncertainty of not knowing what you're doing. None of us were experts when we first started, and that's how you learn."

Transformation Story of Being a Content Creator


Joseph meeting up with other creators.


Q: Can you go into how you became a content creator?

A: Content creation has been a lifelong passion of mine which I started long before working at NASA. Being a content creator was something I had always aspired to do, even from a young age. In the current tech industry landscape, where many people are facing layoffs, I too found myself in a similar situation. In early 2023 our rover program encountered numerous delays and setbacks. Funding was slashed, leading to a surplus of engineers on board. Instead of immediately seeking out another Software Engineering position, I decided to take a risk and became a content creator.


Q: What do you think is the biggest difference between working at NASA and working on your own?

A: NASA embodies a collaborative environment, while content creation is a more independent pursuit. However, I try to keep the collaborative aspect by connecting with other creators, bouncing ideas off other people, and whatnot. My favorite moments as a content creator are going to events or meeting up with other creators.


Q: How did you adjust your mindset when starting with zero channels and facing minimal views?

A: If you enjoy what you're doing, views become less significant. However, I always try to replace the algorithm with an audience and think about the numbers as real people. I think it helps to put things into a different perspective, making it feel less like the platform is against you, and put more focus on why this video didn’t do well and how I can improve to make this more valuable for people.


Q: Can you share 3 things that you think are the key to success?


  1. Consistency is vital for growth. It’s crucial that you maintain a steady effort to work towards your goals.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail. While some may perceive I found success in the content industry out of nowhere, it took me a decade of content creation experience by learning and adapting to failure. Years later, all of that collective experience is coming together.
  3. Enjoy the type of content that you’re creating. If you go down the rabbit hole caring too much about views and traffic, you’ll ultimately burn. Stay true to yourself and make content you enjoy.

"Find a niche."

Pursuit of Self-Improvement


“I think striving for perfection is dangerous because nothing can be perfect.”


Q: What is something that you care about the most and never compromise during your work?

A: I pride myself on making unique and engaging content that people can't necessarily find anywhere else. That's what I strive for, and I try not to compromise in my work.


Q: Do you have any tips on managing your tasks?

A: One of the best things that I took away from NASA was a solid structure, coming down to starting the day at the same time every day. I still wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even though you can make your own schedule as a content creator. Also, I think it is important to stay on top of things daily, and not let things fall behind.


Q: How do you deal with the challenges or errors at work?

A: I think the key to any challenge is learning from them and implementing changes so that they don't happen again, or at least minimizing the chances of them happening again. Adapting and making sure you're making good changes toward fixing that stuff is key.

"In engineering, multiple solutions exist for any given problem; In content creation, there is no definitive "best" way to produce a video."

Working Ergonomics


Joseph’s home office setup includes many things to prevent him from injuries.


Q: What are some common injuries you think a software engineer or a content creator may have?

A: Common ergonomic issues include carpal tunnel and mouse shoulder. When using a mouse, one arm is often elevated more than the other. Additionally, eye strain was a big one for me. It has gotten a lot better now, thanks to the BenQ light. I also had a back-pain issue, so I invested in a nice chair and it was like a lifesaver for me.


Q: Have you done anything to minimize or prevent the injuries?

A: To minimize screen-related injuries, I take certain precautions. The ScreenBar Halo has been really helpful, dispersing light across my desk and reducing eye strain caused by focusing on a single area. I also utilize low-prescription glasses, similar to reading glasses, to relax my eye muscles. Moreover, I prioritize constant movement and avoid prolonged sitting to prevent discomfort.

BenQ ScreenBar Halo: A Light Full of Versatility


ScreenBar Halo has become Joseph’s working fellow.


Q: How long have you been using Screenbar Halo now? What do you think about it?

A: I've used it every day for a month, and it is perfect for my needs. The light it emits provides much-needed relief to my eyes, reducing stress and discomfort. What I particularly appreciate is its versatility. When I'm working, I utilize the front light, but when I want to switch to gaming or other activities, I can easily switch to the backlight, ensuring my setup remains well-lit while allowing me to focus on the task at hand. Working in a well-lit environment boosts my mood, especially during nighttime when I prefer not to rely on overhead lights. It adds brightness to my workspace and enhances my overall happiness. There are a lot of perks to it.


Q: How do you feel ScreenBar Halo can help software engineers and content creators?

A: It can help alleviate the stress often associated with eye strain. When spending long hours in front of the screen, it ensures a heightened level of comfort, allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand without concern for eye health.

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The Ultimate Lighting Companion Tailored for Content Creators

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Engineered with precision in mind, ScreenBar Halo's advanced ambient light sensor detects the surrounding environment and automatically adjusts the lighting to 500 lux to provide a consistent and comfortable illumination experience throughout the day and night. Elevate your focus and efficiency to new heights with ScreenBar Halo now!

Beliefs of Having a Positive Mindset


Q: On a scale of 1 to 100, how would you rate your life so far?

A: I say 80. I feel blessed to be in the position that I'm in and I really can't complain. But that being said, there are still lots of things I want to accomplish.


Please share a motto that represents your philosophy.

A: The quote "Comparison is the thief of joy" deeply resonates with me. As content creators, we often find ourselves caught up in comparing our progress to others. Whether it's someone with a larger following, collaborations with desired brands, or just wondering why we're not where they are. These comparisons can distract us from appreciating our own journeys and accomplishments. I make a conscious effort to remind myself of this and find contentment in what I have achieved. I like to remind myself that if me from five years ago knew what I was doing now, they would be over the moon.


What are your future goals? What is the next milestone you hope to reach?

A: Milestones are tough for me. I try not to set a numerical goal because it relies on others. I focus on establishing objectives within my control. A significant milestone I aim for is consistently uploading longer-form videos in the latter half of the year. As a short-form creator, that's a big leap that I'd like to move into.


Do you have any suggestions for anyone who wants to work as a software engineer or a content creator?

A: In software engineering, pay attention to the fundamental classes. While higher-level concepts are enjoyable, the basics will carry you far. Regarding content creation, my biggest advice is "Just start it." Many individuals hesitate to begin due to not having the ideal camera or waiting for the perfect video idea. However, the most effective way to learn is through repetitive action, and you'll naturally find your way as you dive in.

"Dive in headfirst and don't be afraid to learn."

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