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