Employee Spotlight: Genny Konz, VP Sales Operations in North America

By
at May 9th, 2016

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Genny Konz is Groupon’s VP of Sales Operations and Women@Groupon’s Executive Sponsor. After more than a decade of work in Investor Relations; Financial, Planning and Analysis; and Mergers & Acquisitions at Hewitt Associates (AON), Groupon called. The conversation presented an appealing next step for her career.

“The idea of running Investor Relations for an early-stage tech company, and the challenge of managing some challenging external-perception issues was very attractive to me, and not an opportunity that comes along every day, let alone in Chicago,” she says. In her time at Groupon, she’s had an impact on investor relations, FP&A, and the North American sales team. Today, she’s the VP of our sales operations team, which includes sales operations managers, sales trainers, and analysts who keep our sales team running smoothly and efficiently.

How did your career start?
My passion in college believe it or not, was accounting. After graduating from Bucknell University with my Accounting degree, I was an investment banking analyst with Banc of America Securities. While I learned a lot of the basic fundamentals in banking–how to build an excel mode and an effective presentation, and more importantly, the value of working your butt off–I was interested in something that had more of a communications angle.

How did you make that switch?
Investor relations was the perfect mix of numbers and communication. I took a job with Hewitt Associates as an analyst on their investor relations (IR) team. After 2 years, my boss left the company, and I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run the department. I was about 26 or 27 years old and absolutely terrified about the level of responsibility I was asked to take on. The job nearly killed me (physically), but this was my first lesson in trusting others, and venturing out of my comfort zone.

How did that lesson translate into progress?
After a few successful years of running IR, was tapped on the shoulder by our CFO for a new opportunity. If you’d asked me if there was one job in the entire company that I was not interested in, it was the one that they wanted me to take. The idea of FP&A (financial, planning and analysis) was terrifying to me (notice a trend?), and something I was convinced was not a fit for my skill set.

Others saw something different in me. They saw someone that would be a great fit for the role.  So before I knew it, I was running FP&A, and having much success. Here we have lesson number two in taking risks, getting out of the comfort zone, and trusting others.

How is your career different than you planned?
I spent 15+ years in finance, and am now in the business…surprise!  I couldn’t be happier with my decision, but I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences that I’ve had.

Why did you transition into the role you’re in today?
After nearly 4 years at Groupon, I was starting to think about what was next. I’ve spent my career in finance, but I do not have aspirations to be a CFO. I do however, have interest in running a business some day. I started to have discussions internally about how I could get closer to the business, and the rest is history. I’m again out of my comfort zone…and loving every minute of it.

What drew you to work at Groupon?
The idea of working for an early stage company forging its way in a new industry was very attractive to me. I viewed it as a place that I could go to really have an impact, and work with some super smart people along the way. I wouldn’t do anything differently if I had to do it all over again.

What is a quality you appreciate in an employee or colleague?
Anyone that has worked closely with me knows that I value attitude above all else.  Technical skills are of course important to our day-to-day jobs, but I am so much more likely to want to work with and/or coach someone that exhibits a positive, can-do attitude, and a genuine willingness to learn. I’ll take a positive attitude over a technical skill set all day long.

In your opinion, what is the value of diverse voices in a room and mentorship in a workplace?
Diverse voices bring diverse perspectives.  I believe that the best way to make a decision, particularly in business, is to evaluate it from all angles.  Whether it be ethnic diversity, gender diversity, diversity of experience, or diversity in some other form, each brings a different frame of reference to test and inform our views. Also, diversity is the spice of life and keeps things interesting.  We all benefit from having someone/something different to challenge our norms and our everyday thinking.

A strong mentor/mentee match is a tool that I encourage everyone to take advantage of at some point in their career, whether formally or informally. Like any tool, its usefulness is dependent on its users and how they engage with it. I have always gotten the most out of just having an objective voice by which I can run things when I’m stuck or frustrated. I have found that the most successful pairings can be just as useful if not more so, for the mentor, than for the mentee.

Do you believe there is a secret in rising to the top?
I don’t know that it is a secret, as much as it is a common recipe. A common trait in people that rise to the top is confidence, and trusting that when they fall down, they’ll get right back up. They’re not afraid to take risks, and they’re constantly pushing outside their comfort zones.

 What’s the best advice that somebody else has given you?
When you feel comfortable at work, it’s time to make change. Take risks. Trust yourself, you’ll figure it out!

 What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
There are no do-overs, life happens only once. Love what you do, but make sure it doesn’t define you.

 

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Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Jenny…rising senior at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign learning while making an impact!

By
at August 26th, 2016

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 Jenny Cheng and I’m a rising senior in Computer Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I’m an SDE intern on the Mobile iOS Engagement & Conversion team in the Palo Alto office.

Jenny Cheng

 

What does your team do?

My team works on the part of the Groupon app where users can engage with an individual deal and view the specific details, which are then converted from browsing to purchasing. We make new features, fix bugs, and work alongside the Search and Discovery and QA teams.

 

What do you do?

Before I came to Groupon, I didn’t have any experience whatsoever with iOS, let alone mobile programming. I had never even worked on a Mac before! To top it off, I’ve only ever had Android phones. In the two months that I’ve been here, I’ve definitely learned a lot (to say the least). I’ve picked up Swift and Objective-C and learned about how mobile development works, and how different it is from web.

So far, I’ve fixed UI bugs, added functionality for a new universal link for the app, and implemented UI for a new feature that soon, I’ll be able to point out on all local deal pages! I’m still learning a lot about iOS, but I think I’ve definitely come a long way.

 

What do you do at Groupon outside of work?

In June, Groupon had their annual Volunteer-a-thon, where all employees are encouraged to get out of the office and spend a few hours giving back. I got to help save the bay with environmental work and help feed those in need by sorting food at Second Harvest Food Bank.

Jenny Cheng_Baylands PA

Aside from that, we’ve also had a lot of company and intern events, such as a cruise for the whole mobile team, a company picnic, board game nights, bubble soccer, and a cooking class! It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m excited for the rest of the summer!

Jenny Cheng_Cruise SF

 

What do you like about Groupon?

I really like the culture here – everyone is nice and very helpful, and the work-life balance is great. I also love that the office is dog friendly and has a froyo machine with different flavors everyday – who could ask for more? Other than that, I like that it’s a friendly and open environment, and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

 


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Emily…rising junior at Johns Hopkins spending the summer with not 1, but 2 teams – Follow her first six weeks at Groupon!

By
at August 24th, 2016

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.

 

Hello blog post readers! I’m Emily Brahma, a computer science major at Johns Hopkins University. Born and raised a Californian, I lived in the lovely, quiet city of Irvine until the age of 14, when I enrolled in Cate (a boarding school nestled in the hills of Carpinteria along the coast). When I got the call from Groupon offering me a Software Engineering Internship on the Application Operations (App Ops) team, I had a proud smile on my face that I couldn’t wipe away for hours. My mind pinballed from one thought to the next, imagining all the things I would do, the things I would learn, the people I would meet.

Emily Brahma

It has been six weeks since I moved to the amazing city of Chicago for the summer, and here’s what has happened so far:

 

Day 0: First Steps

I stepped into 600 W Chicago at 8:00 am – a very punctual thirty minutes before Groupon was expecting me. I sat at reception waiting, tapping my foot furiously. I was too excited to remain still. The rest of the interns trickled in and at 8:30 am, the whirlwind of information began: “here’s how you can generate your SSH key,” or “don’t use that staircase,” and “email payroll if you have questions,” “here’s the third Fooda station you can get lunch from!” The office was so big I remember wondering if I would manage to get myself to my desk everyday without getting lost (it took about three days, but I eventually figured it out). The University Relations team had a packed orientation day planned for us, with information sessions of course, but also some fun. We had a scavenger hunt and spent an hour running around the office – which is essentially a playground –  checking off the items on our list. We wrapped up the day with an ice cream sundae bar, where I got to meet my manager in person for the first time. He showed me to my desk and introduced me to the first team I was joining, App Ops. I set down my stuff neatly on my desk, feeling ready for my internship to begin.

 

Day 1: Shadowing Shomari

As my first official day on the App Ops team, I spent it shadowing my mentor on tickets. I got to learn first hand about what exactly App Ops does, and how they do it. Being “on tickets” means that Shomari was handling the tickets that come internally from other Groupon teams to handle bugs or specific requests. For the most part, this meant running scripts to solve the issue reported. This was my first time being exposed to Ruby, and I learned a lot about the basics of the language through this process.

 

Day 2 – Build a Ruby on Rails App to Display Tickets (Oh…I don’t know Ruby)

I came into work on Thursday and my manager was ready with his assignment for me. He told me that I would be rewriting the code for the current ticket Heads Up Display (HUD) since it was fairly old and had a few bugs. Essentially, what this means is that I was responsible for creating a Rails app from start to finish that pulled and displayed the tickets assigned to App Ops using our ticketing platform’s API. It also needed to keep track of Service Level Agreement (SLA) failures. Depending on the urgency of a ticket, if more than a set amount of time has passed, a ticket is considered to fall under an SLA failure. This meant that I would need to check for SLA failures in the background, display any tickets that fail, and add it to the database storing failed tickets.

I felt like I was standing at the edge of a cliff and had no idea how to even begin. I didn’t have much exposure to web development and had never touched Ruby before. However, my manager broke down the project into smaller, less scary cliffs and I was on my way to building my first Rails app!

 

Day 3 – First Pull Request

On my third day, I got to join an App Ops pull request meeting and see how code is reviewed before any changes are made to the repository. I observed my coworkers sort through the changes made in each commit and provide feedback that might better the code before it is shipped.

 

Day 7 – Pairing with Val

Paired programming has probably been one of the ways I’ve learned the most during my time as an intern. It has allowed me to work through problems or try something new with the guidance of one of my coworkers. My go-to person for pairing was usually Val, and he was always patient and more than happy to lend a helping hand when I asked. Although I have “Pairing with Val” listed here only once, there were several days like this. I always ended these days with a satisfied grin, knowing that I had worked through to solve a new challenge.

 

Day 10 – Women at Groupon Fireside Chat

The “Women at Groupon” Employee Resource Group (ERG) holds events throughout the year to engage women and encourage diverse discussion within the company. I had the chance sit in on a  “Fireside Chat” which was a Q&A between Women at Groupon and our CEO, Rich Williams. The CEO gave career advice, candidly discussed diversity at Groupon, the efforts he has put in thus far and his some of his plans to continue to improve.

 

Day 13 – Watch WWDC keynote

Being as tech obsessed as we are, a few of the interns and I reserved a room and spent our lunches streaming the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. It was a great time.

 

Day 17 – My Ticket HUD is on TV!

At this point, I had a running version of my project, but it was just a rough draft and I still had plenty to do. However, it was enough that my team displayed it for the first time on the TV by our desks and I was thrilled. It was such a gratifying feeling to see something I built on display and being used by the people around me. At school I often code projects just to hit a submit button and never see it again, but this was the first time real people would actually be using something that I made. Needless to say, I may have taken a picture of the TV and sent it to my mom 🙂

 

Day 26 – Pride Parade

The Chicago Pride Parade is already such an exciting event, but it was made even better by the fact that the interns and I got to actually walk in the parade alongside Groupon’s float! We walked those four miles with a smile plastered on our faces the entire time, sporting our Groupon Pride T-shirts and tossing out free stuff into the crowd.

Emily Brahma_Pride Parade

(Fellow interns Lily, Abby and JT with Emily @ the Chicago Pride Parade)

 

Day 36 – Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago is a huge food festival held in Grant Park that the interns and I obviously had no choice but to attend (we really like food). The best part is that each stand offers small samples or “tastes” – so you get to try tons of different places. I know it was a successful outing since one hour later I spiraled into a food coma and passed out in my bed.

 

Day 38 – Last day on App Ops

Day 38 was a bittersweet day. It was my last day on the App Ops teams before I would switch over to the Connection Engineering team. At this point, I had completed my project, written all the necessary tests, and even added an extra feature to the application. I wrapped up my time on App Ops with one final code review and worked through their suggested changes. I was sad to be saying goodbye to App Ops, but also excited to see what cool new work I would be doing on Connection Engineering. Being able to work on two teams is a unique opportunity I received during my internship. I’ll get to know two entirely different teams, the technologies they use, and how they operate. Really, I’ll learn twice as much and I’m excited.

I can’t wait to see where the next half of my internship will take me at Groupon!

Emily Brahma_Chi Interns

(Emily working hard with fellow Chicago interns, Matt and Abby)

 


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Preetam…rising senior at CMU and first time westcoaster working with Groupon’s Product Management team!

at August 15th, 2016

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?

Hey! My name is Preetam Amancharla. I’m an Associate Product Management Intern with the Redemption team. I’m originally from Bangalore, India and currently a rising senior at Carnegie Mellon University majoring in Electrical & Computer Engineering with a minor in Computational Neuroscience. Also, for the past 2 summers, I was part of a research group at CMU working on voice recognition for a tutoring app. Given my background, you might be wondering why I’m interning as a PM…

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Why Product Management?

I like making decisions about various aspects of a product. When reflecting on my previous experience, I enjoyed leading and coordinating different elements of a team. Lastly, I wanted to see something that I envisioned come to life; being a PM allows you to do exactly that!

 

Tell us a little more about your team.

The primary goal of the redemption team is to encourage customers to use their Groupons. The mantra of the team is basically “Buy, Redeem, Repeat”. When a customer has a good redemption experience, they are more likely to buy a Groupon again. We also help customers with poor redemption experiences, such as expiration (when a customer misses out on redeeming their Groupon). My team works on several different products to solve that issue.

Redemption is the core value proposition when it comes to a customer’s relationship with Groupon. It is a critical aspect for the company. I truly believe in the importance of a good customer experience while redeeming a Groupon. This probably comes as a result of being surrounded by people who care about what they’re doing and want to make an impact.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 10.27.31 AM

(Preetam and Amrut presenting for an Intern Lunch & Learn session)

 

What specifically do you work on?

I can summarize my summer into two products:

First, I’ve been working on a pilot project which helps users with expiring vouchers get more time to redeem. When I joined Groupon, this product was already going through the initial testing phase. My main priority has been to optimize the product which means ensuring that more people successfully engage with it. In order to do this, I specifically focus on notifications and product placement to tell users about the program while making sure they have a seamless experience.

Second, I’ve been working on incorporating the Redemption signal into our Relevance engine based on the time of day and day of week. Without going into too much detail, this project thinks about optimizing redemption from the point of deal discovery. If you can use it now, why not buy it now? I’m really excited to be working on this because it involves building something from the ground up and the integration of my own ideas into a core part of the company!

What have you done outside of work this summer?

This summer is my first time on the west coast so I’ve been very eager to explore. After experiencing a wide range of activities, I am a now massive fan of the Bay Area. My favorite memories include visiting Dolores Park and Panther Beach (which is by far the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen!). Also, one of the best intern events was playing Bubble Soccer! Let’s just say that I overexerted myself, but ultimately it was a really fun time with fun people…which coincidentally is a also how I would describe my internship with Groupon – a really fun time with fun people!

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Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Sasank… Master’s student from the University of California San Diego who protects Groupon from bad guys and cooks a mean tiramisu!

By
at August 4th, 2016

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?

Hi! My name is Sasank Channapragada and I’m a second year Master’s student at the University of California San Diego. I am studying Computer Science with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence. I’m from Bangalore, India and completed my undergrad at the National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal, also in Computer Science. I’m a huge soccer fan! I love watching and playing soccer, both on the field and on the console. In fact, one of my pet projects focuses on predicting the results of the Barclays Premier League by modeling it as a classification problem!

Sasank Channapragada_Soldier Field

Chile v. Colombia soccer game @ Soldier Field

 

Which team do you work on?

I’m on the Behavioral Modeling team in Chicago. BeMod focuses on identifying malicious users who may try to gain access and misuse legitimate user accounts or create a login to a number of accounts with the intention of committing fraud. We have a number of rulesets that help us distinguish between legitimate users and potential violators, which we use to block potentially fraudulent IP addresses and users.

 

What is your role on the team?

Since our model is based on a fixed ruleset, we notice that the attackers learn the rules over time and modify their behavior accordingly. My role is to use machine learning models to develop a system that can learn to model user behavior based on history. This will allow us to identify patterns of violations and assign trust scores to each IP address that can help us predict if they will commit a violation or not. Not only does this reduce the dependence on manual verification of purchases, it also ensures that we tighten up our rules for those users who we mark as suspicious. We don’t want them slipping through the filters and making potentially fraudulent transactions that can result in severe monetary damage. Prevention is better than a cure!

 

What has been the most exciting highlight so far?

In my very first week, there was a hacker who tried logging into over 300 Groupon accounts in one day. I observed the entire investigation procedure from a close range. The impact and importance of the work that BeMod does was immediately clear to me. In the following weeks, I got to work on the various techniques we use to preempt these attacks and counter such malicious users.

 

What else can you tell us about working on the BeMod team?

Most of our work is done in Scala, on a Spark engine. Spark helps us manage large amounts of data and perform operations on it efficiently. The team is open to new ideas and suggestions, as long as you can back it up with evidence. When I proposed a rule change and presented evidence that it would improve the system, it was received well and the change was made! I was surprised by the number of hackers and bots that attempt to breach our system every day but I enjoy having the greater purpose of keeping bad guys away at the end of each day.

 

How has it been working at Groupon?

Groupon gives you the best of both worlds, being a large company and still maintaining a startup environment. The people I have interacted with are technically some of the best I’ve met and at the same time, really friendly and helpful. The relaxed atmosphere keeps the employees happy and also encourages productivity. The wacky names of the meeting rooms crack me up, it’s like a bunch of friends got together and named them all as an inside joke! ‘Elvis is alive in here,’ ‘Get in here, you son of a gun!’ and ‘Dr. Who?’ just to name a few. My favorite one though, is ‘Houston, we have a meeting!’

 

What have been the other highlights your summer?

Quite a few! The architecture cruise and the chopping block cooking class that Groupon organized were a lot of fun! I enjoy interacting with the other interns and full time employees. Apart from this, I also enjoy exploring the city of Chicago, with soccer games at Soldier Field and the Fourth of July show at Millennium Park being the highlights. With a Coldplay concert and a Cubs game lined up, there is still a lot to do in the weeks to come!

Sasank Channapragada_Chopping Block

Cooking class @ the Chopping Block with fellow interns, Shannon and Sid!

 

Sasank Channapragada_Chicago Cruise

Chicago tech interns @ the Shoreline architecture boat cruise!


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Jackie…rising senior @ Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology sharing wisdom from his 2nd internship with Groupon!

By
at July 28th, 2016

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!

Jackie

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.

Seattle Office

(view from Seattle office)

 

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!


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Abby & Jinting…rising UMichigan seniors on the Application Security Team in Chicago!

at July 14th, 2016

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?

Abby: Hi! My name is Abby Grobbel and I am interning with Groupon this summer! I will be a senior at the University of Michigan. I am studying computer science engineering with a minor in German language.

Jinting: Hey! My name is Jinting Hayter.  I am also a senior Computer Science student at the University of Michigan. This summer, Abby and I are on the Application Security (AppSec) team in Chicago.

(Jinting on left, Abby on right)

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 4.24.56 PM

Tell us about your team!

Abby: The AppSec team focuses on reviewing code and conducting tests on Groupon’s site to ensure secure implementation, as well as handling security threats and researching better ways to implement security. AppSec communicates with the rest of the engineering teams throughout development.

Jinting: I couldn’t have said it better myself. You might not typically hear that much about the security teams within Groupon, but we’re here and we’re important! There’s also this thing called ‘Red Team,’ which is where the security team does penetration testing and tries to exploit security flaws in Groupon’s website. Abby and I have been familiarizing ourselves with some hacking techniques over the past couple weeks in preparation for that.

 

What are you working on this summer?

Abby: I’ve been involved in building a web application to manage the security status of all of Groupon’s internal applications. Rather than manually sorting through over 500 applications, it gathers data from Groupon’s central repository and presents the team the most crucial applications that need security audits. Each application can be ‘grabbed’ by a member of the application security team and when the security check is done, marked as secure. Not only does this streamline the workflow for performing security audits within Groupon, it also allows the team to better visualize the scope of all vulnerable applications within Groupon and the team’s progress over time. It integrates a few different tools the team currently relies on, primarily a tool called Codeburner, which runs each application through a pipeline of tools to reveal security risks. Beyond just this project, discussing ways to remediate vulnerabilities and being included in the team’s discussions of new ways to improve security has been a great learning experience.

 

Jinting: I’ve also been working on the project Abby described in detail above. My role has been primarily integrating Codeburner into the dashboard, receiving burn data for a given service and sending it to get scanned for vulnerabilities by the Codeburner application. Another really cool project I’m starting to get  involved with is the Groupon Online Defense dashboard. Very simply, Groupon Online Defense manages web traffic to identify abusive actors by IP address. The dashboard is actually only one of three parts that make up the system – the other two parts being Behavioral Modeling and Repsheet. AppSec is mainly responsible for maintaining the dashboard, the UI component of the system, which allows users to view the status of the system in addition to manually submitting actions. It’s a very sophisticated and complex piece of software and I’m super excited that I have been given the opportunity to work on it!

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 4.26.39 PM

What is it like working at Groupon?

Abby: So far everyone at Groupon has been extremely welcoming and willing to offer help and guidance when I need it. The quirky atmosphere makes coming to work everyday exciting and all the different events for engineers throughout the week definitely encourage a learning environment. It’s amazing being able to work for a company which consistently invests in the development of its employees.

Jinting: Ditto to what Abby said. Working at Groupon has been really awesome so far! Everyone has such a great attitude all the time and treats the interns like they would treat anyone else who works at Groupon, nothing less. I really enjoy working with my team as well. We all have great chemistry and help each other out when we see each other struggling, all while making sure we’re still having fun and not taking things too seriously!

Any highlights this summer?

Abby: For me, my summer highlights have been our architectural boat cruise of downtown chicago, attending the Pride Parade with Groupon’s float, and enjoying the many amazing places to eat in the city with the Groupon Chicago tech interns.

Jinting: So many! Getting to know the other interns and goofing around in the city has been really fun. Just a couple days ago, a bunch of us went to Taste of Chicago, and a couple weeks ago, we marched in the Pride Parade. P.S. 10/10, highly recommend. It was truly an amazing experience.

I recently started a program with the mission of getting the engineers in the Chicago office to get to know one another a bit more, in a casual setting. Essentially, teams are paired each week and are encouraged to grab lunch together, have interesting conversation, and maybe even learn a thing or two about how the other team operates. I was given the opportunity to pitch my idea to all the engineers at one of the weekly ‘Hello, Chicago!’ tech all hands meetings, and I got an overwhelmingly positive response. Over 24 teams have signed up so far! It began as a little idea, but with the help of my manager, I was able to reach out to the right people and the rest is history. My advice for future interns is just to be loud with your ideas and visions. You never know, it could really take off!

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Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Annie & Lisa! Rising junior EECS Undergrads and bubble soccer pros!

at July 6th, 2016

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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.

Nice to meet you! Who are you?

Hi I’m Annie, and I’m an SDET intern on the Mobile tools, infrastructure and automation team focusing on the Android platform! I’m a rising junior EECS Undergrad from UC Berkeley, living in SF right now but originally hailing from SoCal (OC/LA 626 area). In terms of coding, I got into programming during high school because I went to this really nerdy tech school with a lot of CS classes. I started off making super simple games and useless apps, of course, but gradually throughout college I’ve learned more about the true beauty and power of computer engineering!

Hello! My name is Lisa and I am also an SDET intern on the Mobile tools, infrastructure and automation team but I’m focusing on the iOS platform. I am also a rising junior studying EECS at UC Berkeley! I was born in Seoul, Korea but I’ve lived in Cupertino for most of my childhood. I knew I was interested in engineering when I joined my high school Robotics Club, but I first got into Computer Science through my AP CS class in my senior year and have stuck with it ever since!

Which Groupon team have you joined?

Annie: As an important part of QA, my team specifically works with many internal tools designed to streamline feature rollout plans and ensure that every release is polished and bug-free! It’s a great way to see how different teams need to collaborate and work together during a full end-to-end development cycle.

Lisa: As part of the automations team, we work on making sure all the automation systems and integration tools are working together smoothly as one process. It is our job to manage the internal tools used to run the QA process. In addition, we also write the automation tests regarding the iOS mobile app, making sure the new features work and don’t break the existing app.

What projects are you working on this summer?

Annie: Recently I’ve been working on new jobs for Jenkins, Groupon’s continuous integration tool in which automation and test-driven development play a huge role. For example, one CI job builds a nightly matrix run of test suites on the master branch that test over 1000+ scenarios on all the Android emulator versions. A new improvement I’ve worked on is to integrate these test suites into a new job that would allow developers to run the matrix tests on their own feature branch and catch bugs early before integrating into the master branch, serving as a sort of preliminary filter for dangerous errors. Of course, manually looking through thousands of test results and analyzing which feature branches differed on which tests is an immense pain, so I’ve also created a new test comparison job. This tool retrieves test run data from the stability database and compares it to test results on different branches and different emulator versions, making it a lot simpler to see where a certain change broke or fixed things. The whole idea is to continuously streamline the process of implementing and perfecting new app developments!

Lisa: I’ve been working on a few projects during the first month of my internship. My first task was to work with the Smoke Test Suite and Jenkins, the continuous integration tool that Annie mentioned above, to automatically trigger a job to run a few preliminary tests and report the results directly to Github. This would allow developers to catch bugs that might have broken certain basic functionality or automation before it is added to the main project. I was able to learn a lot about Jenkins and other tools we use at Groupon mobile and work on projects that would directly impact the team. It has been really exciting to see my work being used by the other engineers!

I’ve also gotten experience with learning how to write automation tests for the iOS app. I had to write tests that would be run by Jenkins and checked that certain aspects of the app are running smoothly and accurately. Automation was something totally new to me and I’m so glad that I get to play around with it because I am learning a lot about testing in the industry and a lot of new technical skills as well.

Tell us a bit about Groupon’s culture

Annie: Groupon has an awesome work culture where everyone is super friendly and willing to help! I love that there’s free lunch served every day in Palo Alto which makes it really easy to bond with coworkers and learn about people beyond their work lives. There’s also so many fun events during the summer that really puts forward the whole “work hard, play hard” mentality!

Lisa: The culture at Groupon has been extremely welcoming and helpful. From the first day, everyone around me made an effort to offer their help. I was invited to the all the meetings and was easily integrated into the normal work day. Their friendliness made it easy for me to ask questions and learn quickly. Groupon also plans a lot of events for their employees which makes work more fun and rewarding.

What’s been the best part of your summer?

Annie: There’s been so many fun and unique summer events for interns and full-timers alike! From bubble soccer, to riding a mechanical bull, to zip lining, it’s really hard to pick just one part that’s my favorite. Soon we’re going to a cooking class with our mentors, so since that involves food, I’m super excited!!

Lisa: The best part of the summer so far has been all the intern activities! There are some activities planned by Groupon, such as playing bubble soccer, but also activities that we planned ourselves, like going to Redwood City to watch Finding Dory together. Each of those activities have allowed us to grow closer together as an intern class and provide us with a group of friends where we can be comfortable with each other and learn from each other’s experiences. I can’t wait to find out what other activities are planned for us in the future! 🙂

 


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Sam! Fan of FreeBSD, zip-lining and mechanical bulls…?

at June 28th, 2016

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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 Sam Gwydir and I’m a senior at Texas A&M University studying Computer Engineering/Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics.

 

How did you get the internship at Groupon?

I happened to run into Brian McCallister (Groupon CTO of Platform) at the Grace Hopper conference in Houston. I was running the Texas A&M University Computer Science department’s booth and used my break to check out the job fair. I found the FreeBSD foundation booth when Brian came over to check it out too. I was looking to intern at a company that made use of FreeBSD and he gave me his business card. I had a few phone and Skype interviews and the rest is history!

 

Tell us about your team.

The production systems engineering team handles load balancing and provisioning users and systems. I also work with global data services who run all the databases here at Groupon and our databases as a service system. Global Data Services is the major user of FreeBSD at Groupon.

 

What do you do at Groupon?

I’m a systems engineer but most of my work has been on investigating global data services’ use of FreeBSD for their databases and how we can streamline provisioning new database systems and upgrading them. In particular I’m benchmarking our current combination of database, kernel, filesystem settings and those we plan to migrate to.

In addition I’m working with an external consultant on our upgrade roadmap which really reinforces that Groupon trusts me to do actual work and not just some side project.

 

What has been your favorite activity outside of work?

Last week we had a company picnic with a zip-line, mechanical bull, and a rock wall at Menlo College. It was really fun competing with my manager and other co-workers on the mechanical bull – I came in last 🙁

In addition I’m living in San Francisco and I’ve made a point of visiting every park I can see from the place I’m staying. So over the past few weeks I’ve been to Twin Peaks, Golden Gate Park, Presidio, Corona Heights and Buena Vista!


Groupon Intern Blog: Interns On Deck…Batter Up!

at June 21st, 2016

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.

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Summer is in the air! Weather is warming up, school is out and the interns are beginning their bright futures!

Orientation Day is practically a holiday here at Groupon, and we never shy away from celebrating. For our interns, it’s the start of an exciting adventure where they will learn the ins and outs of what it means to be a world-class developer, data scientist, product manager or designer. Not to mention having a ton of fun while doing it! From scavenger hunting to taking selfies with wizards and space cats, internship kick-off day is probably our favorite day of the year!

Untitled presentation (19)But don’t think for a second that the interns get to have all the fun; our managers and engineers have been looking forward to having their new teammates join for the summer! Since we integrate our interns so closely with our teams, they can’t wait to mentor them and encourage their contributions to meaningful projects that will directly impact millions of users!

 

 

Untitled presentation (20)While the kick off days are just the beginning, there’s so much more to come. We’re beyond excited to see how everyone progresses over the next few months and what incredible projects these cats come up with.

 

Stay tuned for regular blog posts from our eager interns who will undoubtedly knock it out of the park!

 

 

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A Very Special Volunteer Spotlight: Christopher Heath-Morgan

at June 15th, 2016

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Groupon employees have some of the biggest hearts around, and Outside Senior Account Executive, Christopher Heath-Morgan, is no exception. In the wake of the tragic events in Orlando, Chris has sprung into action, doing what he can to support the community that he loves.

 

Name: Christopher Heath-Morgan

 

Department & Title: Sales, Outside Senior Account Executive

 

Office Location: Orlando

 

How long have you worked at Groupon? 4 and ½ years

 

What organization and/or cause fuels your passion? While I have several causes I care about, the tragic events in Orlando this past Sunday have given me a singular focus — get as much help to the families of the victims as possible and help raise awareness for the LGBT community. This horrible crime has affected many close to me, and I have always had a strong stance on equality since I was raised by an openly gay Grandma.

 

What is your favorite volunteer memory while at Groupon? My wife and I took time on Sunday to bring juice and snacks to a couple of the local blood banks to help them accommodate the huge turn out for blood donors (Yay Orlando!!). In the coming days, I will be working with several local restaurant groups to brainstorm and put together events and community gatherings to spread awareness and raise much needed funds. I know we can do some amazing things, so I am looking forward to following this up with some great successes!

 

What could you do with one hour? This weekend’s tragedy reminds me that one hour has the power to change lives and it has inspired me to use that power to make a positive impact on my local community. I encourage my fellow Grouponers to get involved.


If anyone would like to help support the affected families in Orlando, local restaurant groups — TMG, Bento Group and VGroup — are collecting donations here: https://www.gofundme.com/ForOurCityOrlando.
For more information please visit www.PrayForOrlando.info.

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