TIFFANY CHOU

Software Development Engineer, Goods Logistics Outbound
Seattle, WA
Joined: February 29, 2016 (a leap year!)

Despite the fact that Tiffany started at Groupon during a leap year, she recently surpassed her two-year anniversary and shares how much she’s grown personally and professionally since first starting here.

Tell us about your job! What do you do exactly? What do you love about it?

My team’s job is to figure out how to get a physical package to a customer when they buy products on our site and how to receive them properly if customers decide to return an item. It’s interesting because I spend a lot of money buying stuff online but never really think about how much work must go into getting that package from a warehouse or a vendor to my front door. I get to see all of it happen!

What was your first role here? How did you get to where you are now?

I started out as a Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) intern in summer 2015 on the Goods Logistics Outbound team. After that, I was offered a full-time job with Groupon as an SDET on the Goods Customer Experience team and joined the team at the beginning of 2016. After a year, I transitioned to an SDE position, back to the Goods Logistics Outbound team. I’ve done some moving around at Groupon!

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

I think Groupon engineers are some of the most positive and helpful people I’ve ever met. When I first left college, I was terrified to ask questions and look like I didn’t know what was going on. When I got to Groupon, I was initially too nervous to ask questions, but quickly realized that everyone I turned to was extremely happy to answer any questions I had. Groupon is where I learned how to ask questions without fear. Recently, I had to work with someone new on a different team for the first time and he was so helpful that I tried to tell him just how much I appreciated his help, and he responded with something along the lines of, “Don’t worry; send me as many messages as you need to. We’re not just part of a team; we’re all in the same ship that we call Groupon.” There is no competition, only collaboration, and cooperation. It’s incredible to be part of such a supportive community; everyone wants to see everyone else succeed!

What was your first impression of Groupon?

I was surprised at how laid back everyone was, but how people are still able to get a lot done. In school, I’ve always been pretty competitive, but I realized quickly that that’s just not the culture at Groupon. Everyone is willing to help each other and everyone wants to see you succeed.

What’s been surprising about working here?

Even though we have so many people who are remote or working in different offices and time zones, which can definitely make things more difficult at times, we always figure it out. Everyone is accommodating and understanding when it comes to these obstacles, and we still come together, in the end, to try and make the best product possible. Our organization has people in Seattle, Palo Alto, Chicago, and Bangalore, so it can be pretty difficult to get everyone in sync, but somehow we make it work!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve worked on?

If you go on Groupon to buy something, you might see that some things have a “[Used]” option. That’s called our ‘Open Box’ project, and my teammate Michael and I built that entire program together! It’s really cool to get to see the changes you make out there in the wild. That’s one of the things I love about Groupon — it’s big in that we have many customers and clients using our services, but it’s small enough where you really can make an impact on the business and see the difference you’re making!

Were you referred to Groupon by someone?

Grace Hopper! Not directly, of course, but it was at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing that I initially connected with Groupon. I’m grateful that Groupon cares about diversity and getting more women into the industry.

What’s your favorite programming language?

Java

Tabs or spaces?

Spaces

What did you do before Groupon? How did you get here?

Groupon is actually my first job out of college. I studied biology and computer science at a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts (Mount Holyoke College) and realized I missed the Pacific Northwest too much. I kind of fell into Groupon that way, and I’ve been having a great time ever since!

What’s your favorite view from the Seattle office?

What’s your favorite part about your team’s Software Development process?

One of the coolest things about Groupon is it’s got a pretty big name, but teams are small, so your work really has an impact on the company. In a lot of ways, Groupon still feels kind of like a start-up, so even though I’m technically a back-end developer, I’ve also had to put on the Design and PM hats. I know plenty of people on our primarily back-end team that have worked fairly intensely on the front-end. Although the context-switching can be difficult, and it pushes you out of your comfort zone, I learn so much by being forced into all of these different perspectives and mindsets, and I come out of it a better developer in the end.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Honestly, I have several. One of my favorites is when a bunch of us signed up to stair-climb our building (the second tallest building in Seattle, behind only Columbia Tower) to fundraise for cystic fibrosis cure research. It was 56 floors and so cool to see Groupon care about such a cause!

Another one of my favorite memories was back in 2016, we hosted about 20 high school girls during the summer for a Girls Who Code program, and I was asked to speak at their “graduation.” It was amazing to see these girls (many of whom had never programmed before) show off what they had learned over just a couple of months, and I was honored to be asked to share words of encouragement and empowerment at such a special event for them.

One time we all went out as an office to a Mariners baseball game once, and somehow the Mariners actually won, which stands out as a pretty excellent memory, too. I love that we get the whole office together for things like this outside of work!

Where can we find you outside of work? 

I go hiking basically every single weekend. I just discovered it at the end of summer last year, and I just can’t stop. My goal is to complete 52 during 2018, and I’m currently ahead of schedule!

What do your parents think you do?

I think they must think I spend all day learning how to use Microsoft Office and Google Chrome all day; they always ask me how to get Excel to do something specific or what this new feature in the browser is.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

The Groupon Seattle office held a cookie-baking contest a little while ago, and my Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies won, even though I have a dairy intolerance and wasn’t able to try even one of my cookies before bringing them to the office! The CEO ended up asking for a photo of the winning cookies, so now he might know who I am, but only for my decent baking skills.