Groupon Intern Blog: Christina Talks GeekOn, Groupon Tech Culture

By
at August 4th, 2015

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2015! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and getting to know our teams. Today’s post features Christine, one of our Chicago interns who has tackled Ember, Go, and paddleboarding so far.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.43.59 PMWho are you? I’m Christina Kim and I’m a rising senior majoring in Computer Science at Northwestern University.

What do you do at Groupon? I’m a Software Engineering intern on the Goods Deals Platform team in the Chicago office.

What are you working on? I just finished wrapping up a UI feature for the Goods Vendor Portal using Ember. I actually didn’t know Ember before joining Groupon and it’s been fun to learn. I am currently working on high throughput proxy in Go; it’s really exciting to be writing in Go at Groupon. It’s something I’ve been playing with outside of work, but it’s definitely a lot more exciting to use it at my internship, where speed is integral to this project. Engineers at Groupon have a lot of freedom in deciding how to build projects.

How’s Groupons culture? One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about my internship has been how friendly people are and how willing they are to help you. I meet with my manager and mentor regularly, and if I’m ever stuck on something I can easily just chat our entire team to ask a question. Even as an intern, I feel like people at Groupon are invested in making sure you’re maximizing your experience and growth.

What is GeekOn? GeekOn is Groupon’s internal week-long hackathon. All engineers across all the offices are encouraged to create something innovative, build that tool you’ve always wanted, or simply learn something new. This past GeekOn in July, some of the other interns and I spent our week building a travel itinerary planning tool. We used a node.js server, handlebars for our front-end templating, and the minimalize css framework. It was a really rewarding experience to be spending an entire week focusing on something entirely different from what our teams normally do and presenting it to the rest of the office!

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.44.06 PMWhat’s been the best part of your summer? It’s been really fun exploring Chicago with the other interns. We even used a Groupon to go standup paddleboarding one weekend on Lake Michigan. I’m a major foodie and we’ve really taken advantage of all the great restaurants in Chicago.

 

 


Tech Spotlight: Dan Kirsche Builds Algo Tools for Sales and Replica Sears Towers

By
at August 3rd, 2015

Dan Kirsche, a Senior Engineering Manager in Chicago, chats with us about how his team uses algorithms to help Groupon Sales reps close high-quality merchants. Oh, and his team built a Sears Tower out of LaCroix cans. (Why not?)

Name: Dan IMG_0478 (1)

Title: Senior Engineering Manager

Start date: June 24th, 2013

What brought you to Groupon? Prior to joining Groupon, I started two e-commerce companies where I was responsible for building the initial systems and growing the tech teams. At both companies, the teams and the problems were small in scope and size. I really wanted to work on larger, more complex problems with talented engineers from whom I could learn. Groupon is obviously the best tech company in Chicago, and also happens to have some interesting challenges. I found everything I was looking for at Groupon: a large engineering organization, an abundance of tech challenges to solve, super smart developers, and an entrepreneurial culture.

Your team works on an interesting internal tool: Quantum Lead. Can you explain what it does?  To understand the beauty of Quantum Lead, it is important to understand the problem it was designed to solve. There was a time when Groupon sold only 1 deal per day. Sales reps built their rolodex and pursued their own leads. This worked well in the beginning, but as Groupon added thousands of deals and became a marketplace it quickly became unmanageable to manually create lists of businesses for reps to call. Groupon’s merchant database swelled to the millions and it became impossible to ensure reps were closing deals from quality merchants. Quantum Lead solves this problem by identifying the highest-quality merchants and matches them with best sales reps to close those deals. Each day, sales reps get into the office and magically see new merchants added to their call list. The process is fully automated and performs exceptionally well. The average deal assigned by Quantum Lead performs roughly 10x better than those assigned manually.

Can you explain more of the science behind Quantum Lead’s tools? The biggest challenge Quantum Lead had to solve was to figure out how to create a self-learning algorithm that identifies the characteristics which will make a deal successful. We mine the vast data stores of Groupon to calculate customer demand, past performance of categories and divisions, social media indicators, and a handful of other features. With this data we use a machine-learning algorithm called Gradient Boosting Machines to predict the 30-day gross bookings of all 4+ million merchants. We also calculate sales rep close rates, call volume, their specialization (Food & Drink, Health Beauty & Wellness, etc.), and many other factors. Now that we have a profile of both merchants and sales reps, we use a fairly complex matching algorithm to generate call lists for the reps.

What are some challenges that are unique to Groupon that your team works on? Our team is very unique within Groupon in that our systems are very computationally heavy with extremely high throughput, but latency is not much of an issue. Also, unlike most teams within Groupon that focus on the end customer, our users are either sales reps or merchants. If you think about the life cycle of a deal, it starts with identifying high-quality merchants, then flows through to Sales to construct a deal, then Editorial puts together the written and verbal content for the site, and finally it is live on the site for our customers to purchase. Quantum Lead is essentially the gate keeper at the very start of the funnel; we choose what deals should and should not be closed. It is a very awesome place to be in!

These decisions are extremely important and ultimately determine the mix of deals on the website. To ensure we arrive at the most optimal decisions, it is essential to have an accurate model. We are currently building out a modeling framework that will allow us to rapidly create and test new models. It’s a very exciting time for our team.

What sort of qualities does someone need to really excel in Tech at Groupon? The top three most important qualities are being collaborative, a self starter, and driven. We work in teams and most projects require teams to work together, so it’s essential to be collaborative to get things done.  We also work in an agile environment where we expect everyone to contribute and pick up tasks without explicit instruction. Groupon is especially focused on rewarding those who are strong contributors. If you have these three qualities you can be very successful in Tech at Groupon.

Favorite Groupon moment? Someone on my team had previously built a rainbow out of La Croix cans on their desk, but eventually he switched teams and the rainbow went with him.   :(

After the rainbow left, we wanted to build something bigger and better. One thing led to another and the Sears Tower was built. Don’t be surprised if you see the John Hancock next!

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Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work on Dan’s team? Read Lingyong’s blog post for more insight and check out our open position if his story resonated with you!

 


Groupon Intern Blog: Yutong from Push Marketing

By
at July 28th, 2015

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2015! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and getting to know our teams. Today’s post features Yutong on our Push Marketing team in Seattle.

Name: Yutong Luo Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.16.17 PM

School: University of Waterloo

From: Toronto, Canada

What do you work on at Groupon? I’m in the Push Marketing team at the Seattle office.

What’s it like working for Groupon? Having interned at Groupon for 2 months so far, I can confidently say it’s pretty awesome! The people, the culture, the projects, and the selection of snacks in the kitchen have all been amazing.

 

How are the people at Groupon? The people at Groupon are very welcoming and supportive. Almost everyone I met offered to answer any questions I have. Leaving me the tough choice of who out of the 20 people should I ask for this one.

My questions were almost always answered immediately. Whether I’m asking my team, or someone from another team about their service, it has been a very supportive environment.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.45.53 PM

The people are passionate about technology. Every other week a Geekfest meetup is hosted, where a guest is invited to talk about technology. Interns have lunch & learns with various full-times, with free delicious sandwiches provided, and of course interesting advice and experience to be learned. My team in particular has great chemistry!

Tell us more about the culture! The engineering culture can be summed up as a startup with the resources of a big company. The teams follow agile methodologies, with daily standups and sprints. Every aspect of the day to day job feels like a startup. The teams are small and flexible, and the sprints are short and self contained. In terms of resources, every engineer gets full access to Safari Books Online. Internally there are various building blocks available. Metrics, deployment, host configuration are all provided, each with its own detailed documentation.


Groupon Intern Blog: Shubhit Would Like Your Non-Traditional Languages, Please

By
at July 21st, 2015

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2015! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and getting to know our teams. Today’s post features Shubhit, another mountain-conquering summer intern who thrives in the Groupon environment of open source, scalability, and non-traditional code.

Name: Shubhit Singh Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.32.46 AM

School: Carnegie Mellon University

Office: San Francisco

Team: Universal Disbursement (Global Payments)

Current Project: I’m working on Groupon’s disbursement service. Groupon collects money from customers when deals are purchased, and we have to disburse that money back to the merchants. My team is working on a completely new system that utilizes this really cool open source payments platform called Kill Bill (no relation to the movie). Basically, we are extending this platform by writing a plugin that will be able to perform multiple functions, like onboard new merchants, store all the transactions that merchants have made with customers, calculate the amount of money to disburse to merchants, and provide a RESTful API so merchants can view their transaction and disbursement history. I’ve learned many different technologies like Jackson, Google’s Guice, OSGI, Jersey and Apache Maven. I’ve become much more comfortable with Java and I’ve learned a lot about designing a full-fledged project from scratch. It’s been exciting!

Previous Internship: Groupon Seattle, Display & Advertising team. I was working on a graph-search algorithm to match users to relevant deals and vice versa. It was cool being able to actually use algorithms I learned in school (BFS, Dijkstra’s, etc.) and try to optimize them.

Why did you decide to come back to Groupon? I really enjoyed my experience in Seattle. Groupon is at a unique position in the sense that it’s a large company but doesn’t really feel like one. The culture within each team is much like that of a startup. Teams are relatively small, and I’ve found that teams use very current open source technologies to hack together solutions to their problems. For example, my team in Seattle team had its entire codebase in CoffeeScript (not a traditional programming language at all) and Node.js. For my project, my manager let me experiment with different databases so that we could get a feel for how our existing ones compared to others in the open source world in terms of performance and scalability. In fact, I can say similar things about my current internship! The fact that Groupon tries to keep up with the latest and best technologies out there says a lot about its culture. It’s so easy for companies to recede into their own tried and tested ways of doing things as they get larger. Not to mention, as an engineer, its way more exciting to work with new technologies.

I also love the people here! Everyone is so open and available. One of my goals as an intern is to soak up as much knowledge and experience as I can from the people around me in the short period of time that I’m out here. I love having quick chats with my manager, mentor, and other engineers around the office. We’d go for strolls around the building (San Francisco is amazing, there’s so much to see/do/eat), or just chat in the kitchen or a conference room. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been incredibly keen to share and teach. It seems like they are almost as invested in my growth as I am. It’s a great feeling!

What’s been the best part about your summer? Going on adventures with other interns! A few of us interns from the San Francisco and Palo Alto offices organized a day hike to Yosemite. It was a really nice experience. We left Palo Alto at 4:30am, drove to Yosemite, hiked for about 7 hours, and then drove back at night. It was a pretty grueling hike because we had to cover a lot of vertical distance, but once we got to the top of the hike the view was breathtaking:

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.30.59 AM

We also went on a trip to Santa Cruz and learned how to surf! It was really difficult but we had surf instructors out in the water with us helping us out. I managed to get up on the board twice and ride a wave all the way to the shore, which was a great feeling.


Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.32.39 AM


Groupon Intern Blog: Tran Conquers Frameworks and Mountains

By
at July 15th, 2015

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2015! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and getting to know our teams. Today’s post features Tran, another second-time Engineering intern in Palo Alto who is tackling new frameworks and networking with fellow interns.

Who am I? Tran Groupon Intern

“Build what matters” and “never settle for something less” are the two mottos that I have lived by since I came to America almost 6 years ago. I recently graduated from MIT with a BS degree in Computer Science. I decided to come back to Groupon as a returning intern to pursue my new interest in data systems. I have experience with a variety of companies from big corporations such as HP, Amazon, to early startups such as Lytmus.io. So far, Groupon provides me with a great combination of both. My name is Tran.

What I did at Groupon last summer?

My previous summer internship with Groupon was a blast. I interned with the global subscription team in Seattle working on browser identification, performance testing, and software development. I learned so much and had so much freedom in building the products. My coworkers were awesome and helped me to better understand the system. My manager at the time was my favorite person I have ever worked with. Not only because he is friendly, but also because he is passionate about what he is doing. I remember chatting with him about my work until almost midnight about some metrics on my browser identification project. In addition, I also requested that my manager let me observe his technical interview where I learned how he evaluated candidates and what signals he is looking at. Another fun part of interning with Groupon is my mentor. We can interact as frequently as I’d like.

What am I doing now at Groupon?

This summer, I’m working with the Platform Data Engineering team on their big data stack. This is the first time I have had a chance to work with frameworks such as Storm, Kafka, Message Bus, Hadoop, and Hive. Working with this technology will definitely help me gain a solid technical foundation before I start my Masters degree on Big Data and Mobile Application at MIT. I am making a great effort to connect with other interns more so than last summer. I organized a Yosemite trip for all of the Bay Area interns; seven of us conquered the Upper Yosemite Fall to completion! Other interns have organized events such as a San Francisco food tour, surfing in Santa Cruz, an intern BBQ, and many more to come. Also, my mentor and I actually play Heroes of Storm together after work!

How do I get the most out of my internship?

From my personal experience, asking questions is the most important thing to do. If you’re stuck on something for more than 30 minutes, it’s a good sign that you should ask for help. Being friendly and saying hi to everyone also helps me connect with people better, especially other interns. Network with other interns in the area using Facebook and meetup.com. Get out there, be social, and make everything and everyone better than you found them!

Groupon Intern Tran

Conquering Yosemite Falls


Women in Tech: Karen Talks Projects and Pegasi

By
at July 14th, 2015

Today’s Women in Technology (WIT) entry is about Karen, a Technical Project Manager here at Groupon. Karen gives us insight into taxonomy and how she went from Merchant Research to a role in the Tech organization. 

Name: Karen Karen Technical Project Manager

Title: Technical Project Manager

Start date: August 2011

What’s your Groupon story in a nutshell? I graduated college with a degree in Creative Writing, and after graduating I worked in both retail and grant writing, neither of which were particularly fulfilling professionally. I ended up joining Groupon in 2011 as a temporary Merchant Researcher, which entailed data entry, cleaning data, and other data-centric tasks. We were trying to compile as much information about merchants as we possibly could. From there, I moved into a few different roles from QA to Taxonomy to working on Groupon Goods.

After I had been a Groupon for a little while, I saw that a role to manage taxonomy had opened up. I had worked with the taxonomy team periodically while I was a Merchant Researcher. I felt like I really excelled with both taxonomy and international QA; I had a firm understanding of the process and felt confident dictating what should and shouldn’t sell on Goods.

So…taxonomy? What’s that? Taxonomy refers to the set of categories we use to group our deals internally. The taxonomy management role also gave me a great opportunity to get into the more technical side of things. All of a sudden I was working with developers to try to create a new platform for the taxonomy to live on. I was also working with different product owners across the organization. I had a lot of say in how the taxonomy should function, which was fantastic! All of a sudden I found my niche and it was awesome having the opportunity to work in multiple roles to finally find what I loved doing the most.

How did you move from Taxonomy into your current role? Once I had been in taxonomy for about a year and a half, I was looking for a new challenge. I transitioned into the Technical Project Management role, which is really focused on getting ducks in a row in order to complete projects efficiently and on time. What I have enjoyed the most has been the chance to really plan out what is going to be happening and communicating updates and information to different people involved in the project.

What have you learned in your career here? I never expected to gain a baseline technical skill set. In the last two years, I’ve met people on the street who I can hold a conversation with about technical things; I can talk about APIs, coding languages, and other technical topics that I didn’t think I’d ever know about. I understand so much more than I ever thought I would, which is really exciting! It’s opened up another path to something I never thought I’d consider.

Similar to the creation of the word “Groupon,” what two animals would you pick to create a new animal? E.g.: dirds All I can think of is a cat and a Pegasus because that would be awesome. It’d have a cat head and the body of a horse with wings, but outside of the wings it’d have all cat fur and a cat tail. Name TBD, but it would definitely not be called a “pegacat.”


Groupon Intern Blog: Isaac’s Internship Round 2

By
at July 6th, 2015

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2015! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and getting to know our teams. Today’s entry is from Isaac, who had such a great experience as an intern here he decided to come back for a second round.


Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 1.09.14 PM
Who are you? I am Isaac Sanders. I am a rising senior at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where I study Computer Science. I am also a returning intern at Groupon.

What do you do? This time around I am working on our Optimize team, which currently focuses on our internal A/B testing system. This is a major shift from my first time around (in 2012), where I spent my time rotating to a different team each week.

How was the first time? It was really valuable to work with so many intelligent engineers on a variety of problems. It gave me a different perspective on a number of issues with respect to engineering in a company with the number of customers that Groupon caters to every day.

What changed for you when returning? Certainly my focus. Being on one team has given me the ability to really dig in and provide value, not on the level of a full-time engineer, but certainly more than I was able to do last time. In addition to the fundamental shift in structure, Groupon has changed a lot in the past 3 years. They have new executives and a lot of new engineers. The system has changed drastically to handle the growth that Groupon has seen. Some things haven’t changed, like Groupon’s ability to attract high-quality engineering talent.

What’s culture like? I don’t know a lot about the culture of Engineering as a department because there are so many teams, but within our team we are really tight-knit and work well together. We are always looking for ways we can improve or change our team’s processes for the purpose of becoming more productive and creating high-quality work so that our fellow engineers have a better experience creating experiments. This trickles down to the customer in the form of a high-quality experience.

Final Verdict? Groupon was a great experience the first time. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, this time around I am excited to work with a dedicated team solving interesting problems.


Groupon Intern Blog: Maria Talks Getaways, #LoveWins, and Groupon Seattle

By
at July 2nd, 2015

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2015! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad who will share their experiences tackling challenging problems and getting to know our teams. Today’s entry is from Maria, a Software Development Engineering Intern in Seattle.

Name: Maria
School: Harvard, ’17

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.29.49 AM

At Groupon, Diversity is part of the Deal

When I walked in to orientation my first day, diversity was mentioned a lot during the welcoming presentation. However, it wasn’t until my internship started that I really experienced what was meant by “diversity is part of the deal.” Even though I spoke with Groupon employees at the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computer Science and knew they valued a diverse work environment, I didn’t realize how involved they were in actively promoting diversity.

Looking around the office, I saw that everyone decorated their laptops with stickers that promoted various diversity groups within Groupon. On one of my first days, I was handed a “Women at Groupon” tumbler cup from an Engineering director who wanted me to feel welcome in my new role. My floor at work has people from many different countries, so I often hear coworkers speaking other languages all around me. Throughout my time here, I’ve met nothing but open-minded individuals who really push for everyone’s input. I have never once felt that my opinions were not taken seriously due to my gender, the fact that I’m an intern, or anything of that nature. I love my coworkers and the work environment I have here at Groupon. Nothing is better than feeling a sense of belonging and acceptance no matter who you are.

Monumental Supreme Court Case decision, and how that affected my experience at the parade

On June 26th, just two days before the Seattle Pride Parade, I woke up to the news of the Supreme Court decision for the constitutional right for same-sex marriage. I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness that this right was finally being granted to so many Americans for whom marriage was not an option. Though I had signed up to attend the parade before this ruling, I was all the more excited to be walking in it with my fellow coworkers and interns.

I have never been in an event like the parade, so I was so excited when we were told the Groupon Seattle office would be participating. The turnout was amazing! We had about 25 people attending for Groupon and the crowd was so welcoming and happy. We handed out fans, stickers, and of course banana bunkers! I volunteered to dress as a banana just for this occasion. Though I know this was mostly because I was dressed as a bright big yellow banana, I was given so many hugs from strangers and I was able to put smiles on kids’ faces. I will never forget this experience and how it made me feel to see our office come together to support the LGBTQ community.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.26.31 AM

My project and my internship experience at Groupon thus far

I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first tech internship. On my first day, I was nervous and excited to learn about my project and finally put my skills from school to the test. Currently, I am working on the Getaways Search team to implement a new badging feature in order to make hotels stand out in the search results. I am still discovering what interests me the most, but my managers took this into account when defining my project so I will be working with both the front-end and back-end teams.

I love my team and especially Getaways! The people around me are always there to answer the millions of questions I have and they never get tired of explaining things to me.

I also have a great relationship with my manager; we schedule weekly meetings so I can get any questions answered. Additionally, all interns get assigned to a mentor outside of their team to learn more about Groupon and other teams within the organization. My mentor and I go out out to lunch or talk at least once a week. There has been a tremendous amount of support for me during my time at Groupon.  I’ve learned so much and I feel so welcomed! This has become a great opportunity to find out what I love most about computer science and gain some real-world experience while also having a ton of fun.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.31.46 AM

Thanks for reading the Groupon Intern Blog–A blog about interns at Groupon. Learn more about our University Relations program here, and please let us know what you think in the comments below!


Groupon Intern Blog: Designing Consumer-Facing Products with Min

By
at July 1st, 2015

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2015. We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and getting to know our teams. Today’s entry is from Min, a current Product Design intern in Chicago.

Min Product Design Intern

I will start with a brief introduction. My name is Min, and I am a Product Design intern at Groupon’s Chicago office. I am a rising junior at Carnegie Mellon majoring in Human-Computer Interaction, Business Administration with a minor in Design. Moving from Pittsburgh to Chicago, I am really enjoying my time here, embracing the excitement of living in a large and vibrant city.

At Groupon, I am working on the Product Design team, which is in charge of the design for all kinds of consumer-facing products including search/browse, Groupon delivery and takeout, merchant pages, and so on. Right now, I am working closely with Michelle, a senior designer in the team, on merchant pages, which are a huge amount of index pages with a lot of valuable information about merchants such as offers, deals, ratings, tips, etc. The work is challenging and exciting! For my current project, we are designing different components of the web page, exploring various possibilities for every single UI element. From a small button to a whole section, every design choice is made after a considerable amount of thinking, which really dives into the functionality, necessity, feasibility, and user experience associated with every single design treatment. Although I have only been at Groupon for less than a month, I am already in love with my work here. Every day is a great experience. Everyone around me is super nice and helpful. I never need to hesitate to ask people around me when I really need help.

During the first week, my manager Matt Hanson set up individual meetings with every designer on the team to help me get familiarized with all the products that people are working on, which was extremely helpful. This is my fourth week at Groupon, and I am already working on one of the major design products in Chicago, sometimes even spearheading the exploration process of a new component of the design. At Groupon, there is no such thing as “intern project.” Interns have the chance to work on some of the most exciting projects. I am so grateful that I have this great opportunity, and I am glad that I made the decision to join Groupon this summer! I am learning exciting new things every single day, which is a much different experience compared with college life.

Thanks for reading the Groupon Intern Blog–A blog about interns at Groupon. Learn more about our University Relations program here, and please let us know what you think in the comments below!


Groupon Volunteer-a-Thon: Why Carol Volunteers

By
at June 30th, 2015

This June, in celebration of Groupon’s Super-Competitive, Very Serious Employee Volunteer-a-thon, we will be featuring one employee each day who will share why they volunteer. Groupon’s Employee Volunteer-a-thon is how we harness our collective employee power for positive change and highlight the great work being done in communities in which employees live, work, and play. Join us on Saturday, June 27th at 11:00am – 2:00pm at the Lincoln Park Zoo for our first-ever Volunteer Olympics for a fun-filled, family-friendly, open-to-the-public afternoon of volunteering!

Groupon Volunteer Carol

I am grateful for the family, colleagues, mentors and friends who have shared perspectives and provided guidance and counsel — and asked nothing in return.  Paying it forward is my expression of gratitude. In terms of taking care of our community, for me, its simply a good thing to do. Helping others, preserving nature and parks is a quality of life choice. Why I volunteer? Because it’s important to me.” Carol, SVP of Human Resources and Executive Sponsor of Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program 

Volunteering is to Groupon as grapes is to wine. #grouponvolunteers