How did these Engineering interns tackle Groupon’s giant code base?

By
at April 24th, 2017

Two interns-turned-employees share their experiences working at Groupon in both Engineering and Data Science.

sunil raiyani data scientist for groupon palo alto stands in front of office outside

nicolas lu palo alto

What have you both been working on?

Sunil: I work with the Ranking and Personalization team in Palo Alto and we’re responsible for mining deals that are relevant to the customer. When you open the Groupon app on your phone or visit the desktop site, what you see, how you see it, and the order in which you see content is determined by the recommendation algorithms developed by this team. Every deal that shows up has to pass through a series of features, each of which does some processing, prediction, estimation, and finally assigns a score to the deal. The scores assigned by these multiple features are then combined to form a final score which determines the ordering of that deal on your homepage. Of course, there needs to be some way to make sure that the feature is actually improving user experience and is working for the benefit of the organization. And who would be a better audience to judge improvement in user experience than our users themselves? This is where the idea of live experiments fits in. All the features have to pass through an experimentation phase before they can be put into production.

Just like the deals, every user request also passes through a series of layers called “orthogonal layers.” This is the place where experiments are set up. When a user request passes through a layer, it decides what treatment the user will receive for that particular layer. It can be either the control treatment (baseline treatment which is running in production) or any of the experimentation treatment set up in the layer. The success or failure of an experiment is determined by comparing its performance with that of the control treatment. The percentage of traffic that will receive any particular treatment is adjustable. So usually an experiment starts with, say, 10% and then if results seem promising, it is ramped up to 50% and then finally to 100%. The most amazing part of the entire process, though? You get to know the approximate impact in the actual dollar amount of your individual work on the organization’s revenue. How cool is that?!

Nicholas: Pretty cool! I am also on the Ranking and Personalization team and I work on evaluating the performance of experiments and other changes to the ranking code. I own the performance testing tool which builds, deploys, simulates website traffic, and creates reports for the results. There are so many different orthogonal layers and experiments that all need to be compared, but there are simply too many to include in just one report. To make matters more complicated, each experiment has hundreds of metrics that all need to be considered to decide if an experiment is safe to add or ramp up. During my internship and my first two months as a full-time developer, I worked on building a self-service dashboard for scheduling and queueing performance test runs. Now that the dashboard is functional, I’m working on collecting runtime data with instrumentation and building infrastructure to support searching and visualizing all of the data we have available.

two engineers at groupon sit at a desk in the palo office during a meeting

What are your favorite parts about working at Groupon?

Sunil: The flexible work environment and unlimited PTO policy are the top reasons I love working here. Of course both free lunch and paid lunch hours help, too. But it’s not just about the flexibility in free time, it’s also about the flexibility in the work that you do as a part of the team. There is freedom in the kind of work that you want to do, the projects that you want to work on, and the ideas that you think should be explored. 

Nicholas: My favorite part of Groupon is the scope and influence I have on the projects I work on. Since every code change needs a performance run, I’ve had the chance to work with most of my team members to schedule custom runs and help with debugging. I love being able to support all of my team members, and my work helps all of them to be more efficient. I appreciate being able to decide what tasks are the most important to meet the needs of my team. Also, the proximity to the Caltrain station is so convenient; the station Sunil and I both get on is next to the Stevens Creek trail, so I get to bike along the trail to work every day. 

What do you think you’ll both gain as new grads?

Sunil: There is a lot to learn about how the infrastructure is set up to manage a huge service such as ours: a lot of different technologies and languages that are used within the organization (two new languages already in my first two months) and the coding guidelines which are checked to ensure clean, sustainable, and functional code…especially for somebody who just graduated and is used to all sorts of nonsensical variable naming and structuring. There is also a lot to learn about how to build upon any ideas that you might have in mind and the ability to think out the entire process of transforming an idea to a feature in code.

Nicholas: Groupon is a great place to work because it has the resources of a large company, but there are so many important projects that a new grad like me can work on. I have encountered all sorts of challenges that need to be dealt with when scaling a small project to a reliable service. Many features that seemed trivial to implement at first required me to learn about different designs and frameworks that I never needed when my project was small.

software engineer and data scientist playing ping pong at groupon palo alto office

What has your biggest challenge been so far?

Sunil: To be honest, I felt a bit intimidated when I first saw the enormity of the code base. This was during the middle of my internship when I had completed data analysis and offline model training and had to start getting my hands dirty to move the model online. I was running short on time before my internship would end because it had taken more time than planned to build a model due to some infrastructure as well as data sparsity hurdles. It took me quite some time—days, really—just to determine a starting point. After a couple of days of staring at this overwhelming code—and of course, with some help—I figured out where to start. I do think that staring at and absorbing the code inevitably helped because things started making more sense and I was able to launch an experiment with my feature just before my internship ended.

Nicholas: I was also intimated by the size of the code base when I took over the performance testing tool. I made sure to carefully test all of my changes before merging them in, and I recently decided to break the performance testing tool apart from the deployment tool. Now that the performance testing tool has become so important to us, there were many changes that needed to be made to make it reliable, customizable, and fully self-service. It was challenging to make all these large changes while keeping the service running for my team members to use; it’s hard to schedule downtime when everyone has changes they want merged! 

Most memorable experience so far?

Sunil: The time I found out that my first feature was about to be rolled into production was awesome. Right before my internship ended, I had just launched an experiment with the feature that I was developing at 20% traffic. When I joined full time, my first question to my team was, “how did it go?” And they let me know it went well. Later on, I saw the performance charts and then there was a presentation from the product team where they gave the exact million dollar effect that my feature had on revenue. That was quite memorable for me and satisfying to see the impact of my work on a large scale!

Nicholas: The holiday season is a tough time for most e-commerce companies, and the performance testing tool is very important for evaluating changes for holiday readiness. My most memorable experience was when my manager called me after Black Friday and told me that the Ranking and Personalization service was able to handle all the traffic we got as a result of my hard work. The tool allowed us to create a stable holiday readiness branch and made debugging performance issues much easier.

And finally… what drew you both to come back to Groupon as new grads?

Sunil: For me, it was really the kind of work that I had done during my internship. It was closely related to the specialization that I was pursuing in my Master’s degree. It was pretty much exactly what I wanted to do further in my career. 

Nicholas: I also enjoyed the work I did during my internship and I’m looking forward to applying some of the research I did as an undergraduate to allow for faster and more reliable performance run results. I chose to continue working at Groupon because it’s the best place for me to improve as a developer and it’s a place where I can have a large impact in my company.

Want more stories? Click here to read more about the challenges our Engineers are tackling every day.


How is Groupon helping to empower women in Tech? Two Engineers share their stories.

By
at April 18th, 2017

Coding Across Silos: What One Intern Learned at Groupon

The fastest way for any coder to grow is through mentorship, getting a guided and hands-on tour of real-life problems and solution development. Through its relationship with the Ada Developers Academy, Groupon is supporting the next generation of women engineers by teaming interns with experienced developers in a space where classroom learning is mixed with hands-on development.

Today Melissa—a former ADA intern and current Groupon Software Development Engineer—and her mentor, Karena, talk about why it’s crucial for organizations to invest in initiatives that encourage women to pursue careers in STEM.

women in technology groupon seattle

Karena // Senior Software Development Engineer in Test (left)
Melissa // Colombia native & Journalist-turned-Software Development Engineer (right)

How did being an ADA intern at Groupon impact you?

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 1.27.40 PM [Melissa] Being an ADA intern at Groupon was highly impactful for me, as both of these institutions cared about my success. This, in turn, helped invigorate my desire to become a stronger software developer and strengthened my commitment to help other women starting out in the tech field. It is fantastic that Groupon is committed to making the Tech industry more diverse. It has very practical improvements to the overall developer community but also makes Groupon a more attractive company to software developers who care about such issues.

Why is the partnership important to Groupon?

Karena Software Development Engineer in Test Groupon Seattle [Karena] Of course we all know about the big gender gap in the Tech world. When the Groupon Getaways leaders heard about the ADA program, they were intrigued because it was working to address this gender gap while still maintaining an extremely high bar for the candidates in the program. Groupon loves to get involved in initiatives that promote diversity, and finding such a reputable academy focused on educating women in Seattle was amazing! We’re excited about our partnership with ADA so we can help connect women with careers in Tech while bringing new, diverse perspectives to our Engineering teams here at Groupon.  

[Melissa] In my opinion, ADA connects Groupon with a highly-qualified network of developers. ADA developers have had successful careers in other industries, have committed to becoming software developers, and are highly vetted. Groupon benefits not only by adding talent to their Engineering teams but in broadening the larger skill sets and world views of its engineering community.

Why is the partnership important to you professionally? Personally?

[Melissa] I have become an advocate for women in Tech and a role model for the success that can come despite the risks of changing career paths. I am now in a position to speak with other women about what the industry is like for women. More specifically to Groupon, I can dispel many of the myths about being a woman developer at a large company and promote Groupon as the pinnacle in the field of career choices.

[Karena] As we continue to see problems with the lack of diversity in the tech field, ADA is an extremely valuable partner for Groupon. It not only promotes and advocates for women in tech, but it also brings in women from diverse backgrounds with a variety of non-technical skills that are often lacking in the one-dimensional tech world.

What did you learn as a student or mentor?

[Melissa] As a student, I obviously gained a lot of technical knowledge. However, I was also trained on many of the other skills that are necessary to become a successful team-based software developer: project planning, communicating ideas, working cross-functionally, testing and debugging, and of course proper Git usage. Before Groupon, I mistakenly assumed coding was about coding all day in front of my computer. On a more personal level, I was born in Colombia and have been living in the U.S. since 2014; this background provides interesting learning opportunities for me such as noticing cultural differences, subtle nuance in language, and even office etiquette. One benefit of working at Groupon is that the team is already globally diverse, meaning that a number of my teammates have already gone through similar cultural assimilation and are happy to help me in my process.

[Karena] One of the things I love about mentoring is that I always learn at least as much as the person I am mentoring! Something I have definitely seen firsthand from Melissa is how to view learning and growing in a positive way. She is always excited to hear other people’s opinions about her code and is so open to feedback. Programmers sometimes take it personally when their code is criticized, but Melissa has been a great reminder of how to always view feedback in a positive and constructive way!

What about interning at Groupon impacted your decision to join us as a full-time employee?

[Melissa]  Having a very smart and supportive mentor was one of the primary reasons. To have that connection, admiration, and role model who was invested in guiding my career path as a software developer became an asset that Groupon had which other companies could not compete with. Another big incentive to returning to Groupon was that I would be able to rejoin the same team I had interned with. The Discovery and Demand (Getaways) team is filled with smart and committed developers, and it is exciting to work alongside them. Finally, I found the Groupon culture to be a great fit for me; they are serious about software, but also value work-life balance and team building. All of these reasons made my decision rather easy.

What differentiates Groupon Engineering from other Tech companies?

[Karena] One major difference in Engineering at Groupon is the openness of the culture. I love the way we open source a lot of our projects so other engineers can benefit from our efforts. Internally, I love how collaborative the engineering teams are and the way we are developing good processes for working in each other’s repositories. Many Tech companies are more siloed and it’s difficult to contribute to code repositories that your team doesn’t own.

Want to learn more about women in Tech at Groupon? Check out or aptly-named category to get more insight.


Why Leave Groupon Engineering for a [Much, Much] Bigger Tech Company, Then Return? Director of Engineering Manish Chhabra Tells All.

By
at April 10th, 2017

director engineering grouponI am one of the recent boomerang employees of Groupon. Like some others who have left and come back, I also decided to return for the challenging opportunities and the engineering culture. In my first role here, I was leading our Goods Engineering team which is responsible for driving the engineering and product enhancements to build the online marketplace where our customers discover and save on amazing products. After more than three years with the organization, I decided to pursue an opportunity at one of the biggest and highly-coveted tech companies, but after a short stint I decided to come back to Groupon.

There are many reasons why someone might seek out a new role; sometimes they find an opportunity that appears to be better for their career growth and other times it’s merely the itch to try something different. I’m constantly pursuing new challenges to solve as the joy and satisfaction of positively impacting the lives of people is immense. At Groupon, we keep our engineering teams at an optimal size and empower our engineers to make a huge impact on the design and outcome of each product.

As an organization, Groupon is continuously growing and evolving in the local commerce domain. With this continuous growth, we are solving a lot of engineering challenges in a fast-paced environment. Some of these challenges include moving away from a monolith stack to Service-oriented architecture or the challenge we encountered while building a real-time analytics engine for our A/B Testing framework, along with many others. 

We have a lot of talented, energizing, and smart employees who come from diverse backgrounds. The culture encourages innovation in order to keep us up to date with the latest technology trends. GEEKon, our global internal hackathon which encourages engineers to create useful solutions for the company in a cross-collaborative environment, is one example.

What else is Groupon Engineering up to? Click here to get to read about our employees, our work, and our passion for building the next generation of Engineers. 


How Women@Groupon is Commemorating Women’s History Month

By
at March 8th, 2017

Written by: Nicole Meyerson, Marketing Program Manager and Women@Groupon Community & Volunteering Co-Chair

Women's history groupon

You may recall some ideas we suggested for companies to celebrate International Women’s Week last year. Since our past celebrations of the important day have been so well-attended, and in light of the current political climate, we’ve expanded our programming to all of March around Women’s History Month.

Companies large and small can draw inspiration from our initiatives below. The first step is acknowledging that women in the workplace have different challenges than men, and that truly anyone can be an ally.

“We’re excited to build on the successes of last year and celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women with engaging programming throughout March,” said Anjana Dalal.  Deb Schwartz added, “Acknowledging all those who have blazed the trail for us makes me realize how much more impact we all can have.”

March 6: Women@Groupon presents our “View From the Top” speaker series featuring former Navy Seal and business expert Pete Naschak. He’ll discuss leadership skills for women in the workplace.

March 15: Groupon’s Talent Development team established a partnership with Second City Works to put on a series of Inclusion 101 Workshops; the first starts in March. In their words, “We believe that the same skills that make successful improvisers can also support an inclusive culture. By offering experiences, unpacking ideas, and providing real-world tools, our programs give participants ways to practice inclusion.” Explore their course offerings.

March 16: In partnership with Blacks in Groupon (aka BiG) and IMPACT Chicago, we’re hosting a “Speak Up, Speak Out” self-defense workshop. Skills including reading body language and assessing verbal communication, projecting confident body language, and speaking confidently and powerfully can prove vital in a variety of situations.

March 17: Fireside Chat with Groupon’s new Vice President of Investor Relations, and Women@Groupon’s executive sponsor Deb Schwartz.

All month long, and March 11: Collecting gently-used professional clothing and accessories for Dress For Success throughout the month, and volunteering onsite at their Chicago donation center. (Anyone can contribute to their Amazon wish list!)

March 22: Networking organization ARA launched in Chicago in 2013, and has since established chapters in other cities across the country. Women@Groupon is co-sponsoring their event A Journey in Progress: Diversity & Inclusion at the Chicago Trading Company. This event is open to all attendees who register in advance.

Curious about what diversity and inclusion mean to Groupon at a corporate level? Read Karishma Patel Buford’s take, Global Head of Talent Development & Diversity, on ARA’s blog.

People of all genders can celebrate this important month with coworkers and loved ones. Follow the conversation on social media at #WomensHistoryMonth. Men, your efforts are needed and appreciated, too! Watch this speech to learn more about where to start.

Groupon employees: Visit Women@Groupon’s Skynet page to view more details about the above events, and to RSVP.


Groupon Hosts STEM Workshop With Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago

By
at February 21st, 2017

SOE_logo

Groupon’s vision for STEM Education is for more students in diverse and underserved communities to have access and be inspired to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math – and today, our Social Responsibility team hosted 120 of Chicagoland’s best and brightest 3rd-8th grade scouts for a fun-filled day of STEM.

Groupon Girl Scouts Engineering

Throughout the day, the girls worked alongside technical employees to practice problem solving and process iteration in a series of hands-on activities including electrical circuits, bridge building and an Hour of Code in Code.org. The girls also got to hear from five of our very own to learn about how Groupon uses technology to connect consumers with the local community and earn their very own “Scout Out Engineering” merit badge.

Groupon partnered with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana back in 2013 to develop a program engaging young girls in STEM. Since then, we have involved 560 girls, engaged 200 employee volunteers and built 120 popsicle stick bridges.


A Year in Review | 2016 Employee Volunteer Program Recap

at January 30th, 2017

 

Our Social Responsibility mission is simple: to help people and communities thrive and prosper. We do this through a secret formula of employee do-goodery, responsible business practices, customer collaboration and nonprofit investment.

2016 has been an exciting year for Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program – a year of increased engagement and more significant impact in the communities where employees live and work. In short order, we’ve seen the culture of employee volunteerism shift from simply being a “nice to do” to being core to our values and a part of who we are as a global leader in local e-commerce.

This past year, we:

  • Engaged more employees in more offices than ever before during the third annual Volunteer-a-thon in June.
  • Piloted the first Grouponsultation (pro bono) cohort where teams of employees worked collaboratively on capacity-building projects with nonprofits to help solve critical community issues.
  • Launched the first Global Leadership Team, where 24 rockstar employees stepped up to support the great volunteer work in offices across the company.
  • Hosted the annual VolunteerMatch Summit bringing industry leaders to our HQ office in Chicago where Groupon’s VP of Sales & Merchant Operations and the EVP’s Executive Sponsor, Jay Klauminzer, delivered the keynote address.

Our volunteers are ready and eager to continue this great work and “do good” with exceptional purpose in the year ahead. Keep an eye out for more to come from Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program in 2017.

Looking for something you can do in your local community? Check out VolunteerMatch for opportunities to get involved in your area.

2016 EVP Recap

2016 EVP Recap


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Duncan…Android Developer and Pokémon Go master!

at September 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.

 

Who are you?

Hey, I’m Duncan Deutsch! I’m 20 years old, and I study computer science at the University of Washington. In the fall, I’ll be heading into my final year there and entering the real world this coming spring. I’ve lived around the Seattle area my whole life, but I’m spending this summer at Groupon’s Palo Alto office.

Duncan Deutsch


What have you been working on?

I’m working on the Android team, which is subdivided into a few different areas of focus. Specifically, I work on the Groupon to Go (GTG) team, bringing Groupon’s up-and-coming food delivery and takeout service into the mobile application. At the start of my second week here, I received my first feature assignment! I was asked to assist with creating brand new restaurant cards within GTG that would bring them in with the deal cards present throughout the rest of the app. Working on this feature was extraordinary because it was labeled as our high priority feature for the next release, so I really got to feel what it’s like to be a core developer on my team. Three weeks later, my feature was merged into the master branch of the codebase for release in our next update. Recently, I’ve been working on improvements leading up to the release of our native checkout experience, and shortly we’ll be transitioning to more new feature work (which I probably shouldn’t disclose 😉).

Duncan Deutsch_GTG card

I did that!

 

What is your favorite part of working here?

I don’t feel like an intern at Groupon. In fact, I’m already preparing myself for the trauma of leaving my team at the end of the summer because I feel so integrated into my role here. Do 8:30 AM stand-ups sound fun to you? Probably not. They don’t sound fun to me either… yet I truly enjoy them. There is a real sense of camaraderie among our team, and it’s always nice to see everyone face to face (physically or via telepresence). Students going through the internship recruitment process know to take it with a grain of salt when a company proclaims “We don’t have ‘intern projects’ here. Here at [said company] you’ll be working on important features for our product.” Every company wants to promise you this and few mean it. At Groupon, they meant it. I get to work with my team on bugs, improvements, and features just like any other permanent employee here.

What do you think you’ll gain from this internship?

Besides the weight I’ll gain from grabbing snacks every time I’m waiting for a build to complete, I’m gaining so much experience in areas I did not expect. Obviously, I’m learning a ton about Android programming. Beyond that, this internship has given me the chance to work with so many tools, libraries, and design patterns I hadn’t been exposed to before. It’s amazing how foreign Java code can become when you throw RoboGuice, Butter Knife, Dart & Henson, Jackson, Glide, and RxJava into the mix (just to name a few). The learning process of an internship is akin to learning a language through immersion. Internships are fast, immersive, and effective at training you to be comfortable with a colorful variety of key industry practices. On the non-technical side, I’ve also been exposed to the application development process from start to finish for an app with 50-100 million installs! Being a part of this process and getting to take a look from the inside is probably the most invaluable knowledge I’ll secure from this internship.


What has your biggest challenge been so far?

The challenges I’ve faced this summer have definitely not been in the areas I expected to find them. Without any previous Android experience, I anticipated being constantly lost. It turns out that learning to program for Android is intriguing, natural, and refreshing. The challenges that I’ve faced have instead centered around becoming one with the various tools and practices that are an integral part of the workflow here. The first week I arrived, I constantly felt clueless. I forgot everyone’s names within seconds. I asked myself: What are these strange words and acronyms I keep hearing? What button do I press to do that thing you said? How do I test this code without buying an actual Groupon? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL THESE QUESTIONS THAT STACKOVERFLOW CAN’T ANSWER? I could go on for an uncomfortably long amount of time, but I’ll spare you the war flashbacks. It is really important to have faith in yourself and know that it gets better. With some dedication and willingness to constantly be asking, observing, listening, and improving, it doesn’t take long to get comfortable. It especially helps when you have amazing mentors on your team to constantly bother with your questions.  (Shout out to David Luu, Carlos Rubio, and Cody Henthorne!)


Most memorable experience so far?

I can not foresee how far in the future one may be reading this post, so I’ll preface this anecdote by saying that this past month we experienced the birth of Pokémon Go. For a few weeks, lunch with the Android team effectively became Pokémon Go hour. A couple of times, we actually went on field trips to take over a nearby gym together. Spend a moment picturing ten or so adult software engineers mobbing their way down the street to battle Pokémon (#SQUADGOALS). Another memorable experience for me was the time that I accidentally ordered Groupon to Go delivery from a pizzeria in Chicago, but let’s not talk about that one…


And finally… what drew you to Groupon?

Beyond just being a fan of the product, I can honestly say that what made the difference was the zeal of the recruiting staff. When you are waiting 2-3 business days for Company X’s recruiter to respond to a small clarifying question, then an email pops up from your Groupon recruiter within a few hours of inquiry at 11:19 PM, you realize just how passionate about their jobs these people are. From your first day here, they only continue to work hard to make sure you have the best experience possible in your internship. I am so happy that I came to Groupon because every day I feel excited to enter the office, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.


Duncan Deutsch_Santa Cruz Beach
Palo Alto interns repping Groupon at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk!


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Lily…rising Junior @ Carnegie Mellon and Designer Extraordinaire!

at September 20th, 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.

 

Hi there! My name is Lily Fulop. I’m a rising junior at Carnegie Mellon University studying Communication Design. This summer, I’m a visual design intern at Groupon in the Chicago headquarters. I currently live in southern Virginia, but I’ve lived in six different states, so anywhere feels like home. I have a lot of family in the Chicago area, so I really love being here for my internship this summer, and might try to stick around once I graduate!

Lily Fulop

 

At Carnegie Mellon, my primary focus is design. In my classes I learn about fundamentals like color, typography, grids, and composition, as well as higher-level concepts like information visualization, systems design, human factors, and user-experience. I love illustration, photography and telling stories through the things I create.

 

I love design for several reasons. First, I can’t stand it when things don’t make sense. I’m the kind of person who needs answers and clarity. Through good design, I can provide those things to others. Design has the amazing capability of conveying complex messages with simplicity. A user should never have to work too hard or be made to feel like they lack common sense due to clumsy communications or designs. They should be able to trust their intuition to navigate information with confidence. Second, I get bored really easily by convention and routine. I love color, pattern, excitement and surprise. I believe in the power of beautiful and clever design to bring joy and meaning to people’s lives. Finally, I’m a perfectionist. I need things to be done right. I appreciate things made with quality, time and those little details that show that someone cares.

 

This passion for design led me to my internship at Groupon this summer. At Groupon, I work on visual design and branding for the Food & Drink division. Food & Drink has three sections: Deals (everyday discounts), Card-Linked Offers (a cashback program), and Groupon To Go (a food delivery service). I work on email campaigns and marketing for these products which involves designing across platforms (i.e. desktop vs. mobile and internal ads on the Groupon website vs. ads on affiliate websites). This summer, Groupon has been undergoing a complete change in brand– a new aesthetic, a new typeface, a new message. We’re focusing on bold, fun experiences; like our new commercial says, we’re valuing the “have-dones” over the “haves” and encouraging our users to “own the experience”. It’s been really exciting to have a say in how this new brand direction is implemented in our designs. In addition to working on brand consistency across platforms, I’ve also been faced with the challenge of creating brand nuances between products. For example, the Card-Linked Offers service ought to be differentiated from Groupon To Go aesthetically, but similar enough so that both services can be recognized as a part of Groupon as a whole.

 

From day to day at Groupon, you can catch me refining typography and composition on Illustrator, searching stock image sites for the best pictures of pizza, helping with in-house photoshoots (a.k.a. launching my hand modeling career!), critiquing designs and discussing strategy. I’ve learned so much here already! My eye for detail has developed, my workflow is much faster and I have a deeper understanding of branding. I know so much more about local commerce and how Groupon operates. It’s been great to see how design functions within such a large company and to learn how to communicate across teams here.

 

Outside of work, I’ve loved exploring Chicago and hanging out with the other interns. As the only non software engineering intern, I’m having a bit of a different experience than the others at work, but we’re having a great time together outside (and inside!) of the office. Groupon has sponsored some really fun events for us, like going on an architectural boat tour of the city and doing a cooking class with our mentors. A bunch of us also walked in the Chicago Pride parade with the Groupon float, which was an incredible experience. We’ve had fun exploring different neighborhoods and trying to taste all of Chicago’s best food (Jeni’s ice cream in Wicker Park is a favorite!)

Lily Fulop_pride paradeLily Fulop_other interns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This summer has been amazing, and I’m sad to see my internship come to an end, but grateful for the people I’ve met and the things I’ve learned!

 


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Josh…Groupon philosopher and Chicken McNugget Expert

at September 20th, 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 Josh and I’ll be a junior at Northwestern University studying Computer Science. I’m from Cincinnati, OH. I can identify all four distinct Chicken McNugget shapes by taste alone.

Josh Shi

 

What do you do?

At Groupon, I’m on the Goods CX (Customer Experience) team, which basically owns the Goods part of the Groupon website where you can find deals on products. Because that’s a wide net, however, I’ve also gotten to work on code from other teams as well that are used by the Goods team. My main focus for this summer will be working on a dedicated tips page for local deals, which allows users to see reviews, ratings, and advice given by previous customers on a given deal. Since I’m on a web team, I’m writing in the standard languages, but with slight twists (mustache instead of pure HTML, Stylus instead of CSS, Coffeescript instead of Javascript). This is my first time writing a lot of code in Coffeescript, which is really neat and not at all like real coffee.

 

What’s an internship at Groupon like?

If you’re like me and this is your first time working on code that gets used in a fairly large company, you are going to get absolutely dunked on in your first week by a field you once thought you were on friendly terms with. Jumping into an established codebase and trying to figure out how everything works is a task in itself. Combine that with making changes, debugging, writing tests, and figuring out why code doesn’t work on your machine when it works for everyone else, only to realize it’s because your config files are pointing to staging, when they should be pointing to production. Luckily for me though, everyone on my team has been super helpful and is always willing to put up with my questions (especially my mentor, whom I asked a question probably every ninety minutes during my first week here). Everyone here really understands that you’re here primarily to learn, so they’re very accommodating while you get your sea legs under you, and that’s a huge help.

 

What’s a typical day at Groupon like?

I get in around a quarter ‘til nine and have a bowl of Special K Red Berries® cereal with soy milk. I refer to it as Special K Red Berries® because that’s what it’s labelled as on the dispenser, but to be completely honest I have no idea if it’s actually Special K Red Berries® cereal because I’ve never seen any Red Berries® in it, or berries of any variety for that matter. I don’t know what happens to the berries on their journey to its container, but the result is me eating the equivalent of unfrosted Frosted Flakes out of a paper bowl, which isn’t as unappetizing as it probably sounds. Other than that, the constants of my time here have been daily stands, which is how Groupon ensures that you’re not slacking off, and intern outings, which is how Groupon ensures that you’re slacking off sufficiently. I would also say that around 30% of my day is split between asking my mentor to help me, asking someone who isn’t my mentor to help me, and thanking whomever I just asked for help. Besides that, I spend my day taking care of issues that come up every now and then, writing tests followed by receiving and implementing feedback on my code.

 

Any advice for prospective interns?

Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know how to do something, especially if it’s Groupon-specific. Seriously. No one is going to think less of you for not knowing how to rebase and squash 15 commits your first week, even if you’ve told them that you’ve used Git before. There are a lot of things that you just don’t get exposure to until you start working. Just go at your own pace and ask a lot of questions…which is pretty much how I’d recommend going through life in general.

Josh Shi_Cucina Bambini
Josh (right) with Groupon interns and mentors @ the Cucina Bambini cooking class!


Groupon Intern Blog: Meet Matt….rising senior at Princeton working on his butterfly swimming technique and a massive codebase!

at September 8th, 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.

 

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Matt Gibbons and I recently finished my junior year at Princeton. I study history and computer science. Prior to working at Groupon, I did some software development for a small San Francisco-based startup. While I had a phenomenal experience working under some great developers there, I wanted to try working at a larger tech firm. This led me to apply for an internship at Groupon!

Matt Gibbons

 

What do you like about working at Groupon?

Whenever you walk by the conference rooms, you’re inevitably going to see these massive TV screens that are used to video chat with teams in other office locations. When the TVs aren’t being used for meetings, they default to a screen saver with a picture of a green cat (an obsession with cats is sort of an inside joke at Groupon) that states one of Groupon’s corporate values: “great people make great companies.” Groupon really believes in investing in its employees.

More than any other team I’ve been a part of, Groupon has demonstrated a huge interest in developing its developers. I’ve worked at companies and on projects where I felt like a cog. Groupon sees me and my fellow engineering interns as more than code monkeys. You can feel this attitude throughout the workplace. Senior management is constantly encouraging employees to use your personal growth benefit fund, which exists for employees to go learn about anything engineering related. Even more telling, everyday incredibly talented developers take the time to walk me through the intricacies of my team’s code base – which has been an incredible learning experience. Management is interested to hear the opinions of junior level employees (i.e. interns), and you can easily see the value add of your work. It’s an incredibly gratifying place to work!

Matt Gibbons_Chi HQ

(Matt with fellow interns Abby and JT in the Chicago HQ lobby)

 

What’s the biggest challenge being an intern?

The biggest challenge I have faced is familiarizing myself with thousands and thousands of lines of other people’s code. That’s not an exaggeration. At times, the code base feels endless. Without the guidance of a more senior developer, simple tasks can take 5-10x longer than you’d expect. Beyond the sheer size of the code base, it’s been challenging to program in a new language. Prior to starting my internship, I’d never worked with ruby or rails. Now I can say that I’m familiar with a language I previously knew nothing about. Pretty cool! I’ve learned so much in these few months.

Matt Gibbons_Swimming

 

What advice would you give to computer science students looking for internship opportunities?

Prioritize learning above all else and ask recruiters as many questions as possible. I have friends at companies big and small, prestigious and lesser known, high-paying and unpaid who have gotten little to nothing from their summer internships. Internships are meant to give you the flavor of an industry, a job, and a company. The trouble is that it’s really hard to know which internship will provide the best opportunity to grow as a developer. I ultimately came to Groupon because engineers on my team made it clear that I’d get lots of hands on experience and growth both as a developer and person. The worst possible summer would be one spent at a prestigious company, making lots of money, and not learning anything. After this experience, I’m confident that I’ll stay in tech – maybe as a software engineer or perhaps in a different role. Whatever happens, I’ll be thankful to the engineers at Groupon. I learned a lot of technical skills, but I’ve also learned how to be an effective contributor within a fast-paced team of engineers!