The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2016! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and working with our teams.
Who are you?
My name is Xiangqing Zhang, but you don’t have to remember that! Just call me Jackie and we are all good. I am a rising senior at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and a major in Computer Science and Software Engineering. I am a Software Development Engineering intern at Groupon!
I am excited to have this chance to share my own experience at Groupon. In fact, this is my second internship at Groupon, so I do have a lot to share! Thanks to Emilio and Katie, my campus recruiters, to give me this chance. And I hope this blog post will be informative and helpful to readers in front of the screen, like you!
How is your second internship with Groupon going?
It is great! I chose to go back to Groupon because I like the culture here, plus they truly take care of the interns. For instance, last year, they asked me to send them a photo before my internship started, and on my first day, I received my own custom bobblehead along with countless gifts, snacks and pizza! I also met regularly with my mentor, who volunteered to help coach me throughout the summer. All of the interns at Groupon are assigned a mentor from another team to offer guidance, support and someone to rely on.
Interns also have all sorts of activities! A few things we’ve done this summer include a Lunch & Learn speaker series where different team leaders talk about his or her team, challenges they face and career experiences during our lunch break; off-site events where we take a tour of the city or work as a team to escape a puzzle room; and 1:1 sessions with our mentors.
Here comes the challenging one: since you have done two internships at Groupon, which one do you like more?
Well, this is a tough question! 😀 In fact, some of my intern friends asked me this question as well. My answer is BOTH. Both of my internship experiences have been awesome, yet in different ways.
Last summer I was in Chicago, which is the Groupon HQ. There I worked for a frontend team which owns the frontpage, local deals page, and search page on the Groupon website. I still remember the feeling I had when I saw my contribution was successfully deployed and became available to millions of website users! That feeling of satisfaction, and the positive feedback from monitoring statistics, made me proud to be a member of the team and a developer at Groupon.
This summer in Seattle, I am part of a backend team where we control how Groupon put ads on other platforms. In order for other platforms to display our ads, we need money to convince them; therefore, we are the team which has the most spending power. It’s still a fair game: we spend most, we earn even more. I work on a project to rewrite the bidding calculation portion, which directly controls how much money we will spend, by utilizing tools in our Hadoop ecosystem. As you can see, I am touching the bottom line, which is very exciting! This project is quite challenging, and I feel the pressure and responsibility at the same time.
Looks like you are working on real things that are crucial to the company. Have you experienced any problems or issues so far?
I only encountered one last year, and that issue reported by users was a SEV-1 (the highest severity). My team had to react quickly to resolve this issue!
Were you scared, and did you build a bunker?
Of course not! My manager and teammates trusted me, so instead I took the job and built a patch with help from the Application Security team to fix the issue. It turns out that the issue was a subtle miscommunication between two frontend teams, where one team changed the API and the other team wasn’t fully informed. This isn’t something that is taught in a classroom setting. Had I not encountered it, I would not fully understand the importance of communication between teams and the fact that even a tiny flaw can cascade, causing major problems. I am thankful to my team and Groupon to give me this priceless chance to grow.
You mentioned Groupon’s culture above. Are there any cultural differences between your Chicago team and Seattle team?
Yes, there are differences due to team structure and type of work. For the frontend teams, most of the features are visually available, and the results are measurable. We followed Agile methodology and increased our efficiency. In terms of my backend team, we are more project-based, and since the result will usually show up a week after deployment (because we need wait for sufficient data), we are more goal-focused.
However, there are more cultural similarities among all teams. People are really helpful and willing to discover new technologies. When I need help, it is immediately available from my teammates with no exceptions. We also like to joke around, and you can often hear laughs everywhere from the office. This is my understanding of Groupon’s culture: make work fun, make teamwork effective; encourage curiosity, cultivate leadership, and accept challenges!
Additionally, here’s a little secret to becoming popular in Seattle Office: Play Pokémon GO (go Team Blue!)
In the end, any TL;DR notes for readers?
Yes, the note is short: do your internship at Groupon, because you won’t regret it!