Meet Cillian – secondary school student, rugby fan and future marketing & tech wiz!

Meet Cillian – secondary school student, rugby fan and future marketing & tech wiz!

Cillian Moore

Transition Year Student
Balbriggan, Dublin, Ireland
16 Years Old

This week in our Dublin office we had the pleasure of Cillian’s company when he took some time to stop by for work experience and learn all about marketing for his secondary school (high school) tuition. He attends Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, North Dublin and, just like us, he loves getting involved in the community. Oh and he’s a major rugby fan and plays for his local team too!

My experience this week has shown me the wide range of technology and engineering jobs that are available nowadays, so that’s what I’d like to do someday.

Tell us what you learned about Groupon this week?

“It was interesting seeing all of the different people involved in marketing at Groupon. I never knew the impact of advertising and promotion in a company, so it was a real eye-opener for me to see all the types of functions needed to make a company like Groupon run. I also loved how the teams could see impact of their work at the end of the week.”

What do you hope to study at university?

“I’d like to get my Masters, maybe in Computer Science. My experience this week has shown me the wide range of technology and engineering jobs that are available, so that’s what I’d like to do someday.”

MOST importantly – did you enjoy yourself here this week?

“YES! The people are very friendly and the atmosphere is great. Everyone I worked with from the design team to the affiliates and marketing and recruiting teams was very helpful and happy to answer my questions and provide advice on my future career.  I moved around various teams during the week and the people were so welcoming and made me feel right at home. The atmosphere in here is relaxed and fun, everyone helps each other out and there is a creative vibe, which is really nice to be around”

We absolutely enjoyed having Cillian’s around – and being so enthusiastic about technology and engineering, we’ll be keeping a close eye on him for future roles here!

Nice meeting you Cillian!

#TeamGroupon

Amethyst Saludo – Product Designer, Merchant Team

Amethyst Saludo – Product Designer, Merchant Team

AMETHYST SALUDO

Product Designer, Merchant Team
Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 2014 & 2015

From designing exhibits at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona to designing merchant-facing products at Groupon, Amethyst’s through line has been finding meaningful connections between people and the world around them.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

When I first visited the Groupon Chicago office, I suddenly found myself face to face with a massive cat in a giant spaceship! I will never forget that moment…it is something worth seeing! In addition to the cat, my other favorite Groupon memory is the first Design Union (DU) offsite I attended at the Abby Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Every year the entire design team gets together with designers from all over the world. In previous years, the Design Union held the offsite at a lodge in Seattle where the show Twin Peaks was filmed and another year it was in Santa Cruz. They are always in interesting locations!

The offsites present opportunities for us to connect with one another and build stronger relationships through team building activities and just by hanging out together. They are lots of fun, always filled with outdoor activities, geocaching competitions, and a lot more.

What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

This year I was happy to make contributions to both the merchant and consumer teams.

On the merchant side, I recently worked on a project that was really fun as well as challenging. The overall goal was to develop a series of new products as part of the future vision for our merchant offerings. I designed several end-to-end product experience prototypes which could lead to a more robust engagement between merchants and consumers. This was a collaborative project in which I worked closely with a product manager, the merchant team, and senior leadership as well.

On the consumer side, I really enjoyed working on specific features on the deal page through the checkout experience. This was an interesting project because it was all about consumer behavior and showed how even the smallest changes in design could affect consumer decision-making and that can have large economic impact. It required me to think deeply about consumer psychology and therefore impacted my design approaches.

What was your first role here and how did you get to where you are today?

I started as an Associate Product/User Experience Design intern. I had a wonderful time working with amazing designers and engineers from the merchant team and shortly after completing my internship I was thrilled to continue my adventure here as a Product Designer.

What’s your favorite conference room?

What was your first impression of Groupon?

The first thing that left an impression on me has to do with the people who work here. I have always felt that people make a place what it is, and that is certainly true in case of Groupon. I feel that no matter what I might be doing, I have felt supported and cared for by everyone. Recently, a team from the DU started a recognition program for designers who have gone above and beyond their normal duties. This year, I felt extremely honored to have won the DU Appreciation award for my work. Thank you DU team! And the best part was that the award came with a super cute unicorn who sits on my desk! We also have a DU Buddy program which was an outcome from this year’s DU offsite. Such a program helps build a personal connection between our distributed teams. Making meaningful connections and having various support systems within the DU has really made it feel like family.

By the way, I’ve named the unicorn Rufus.

Also, I can never forget the first time I saw the names of all our conference rooms. So creative! You should definitely check out the zombie one!

What do your parents think you do?

My parents really don’t know what I do. They think my work involves “lots of drawings on the computer.” 🙂 Now that I think about it, they are not entirely wrong!

Tell us about working with Engineering from a Design perspective at Groupon.

I truly enjoy working with engineers because I learn so much from them! Every engineer I have collaborated with has helped me to understand the meaning of creativity within constraints.

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

I really enjoy the entire process, from identifying requirements through research and data collection, to the iterative process of generating solutions, to seeing its impact on stakeholders, and finally to reflecting about where we could make improvements. I love to find the balance between a great user experience for our users and business impact.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I once joined a Korean martial arts club to learn the art of Hapkido, a form of self-defense. The name translates to:

Hap = Harmony

Ki = Power

Do = Way or Path

“Every engineer I have collaborated with has helped me understand the meaning of creativity within constraints and what it takes to address user needs while continually creating desirable products.”

What’s unique about the Engineering culture here?

The engineers here are awesome! It’s an environment where people are really passionate about what they do. I truly enjoy working with engineers because I learn so much from them! Every engineer I have collaborated with has helped me understand the meaning of creativity within constraints and what it takes to address user needs while continually creating desirable products.

Where were you before joining Groupon and how did you get here?

Ok, in order to answer this question, you will have to bear with me as I tell a bit of a long story. After I finished my undergraduate degree in Visual Communication Design from Arizona State University, I worked as a graphic designer, developing logos, identity systems, infographics, and other materials primarily for the print medium. I then got a job as the lead exhibit designer at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona. This is one of the world’s largest museums that houses remarkable musical instruments from all over the world. It even has the piano on which John Lennon composed the masterpiece “Imagine.” At MIM, I worked closely with a team of curators, installers, technology specialists, conservationists, building contractors, and many others in the design and installation of over 300+ exhibitions. After working at MIM, I was at a company called VMI, which modified vans to make them accessible to people in wheelchairs. Here, I worked in the marketing department, designing and developing print materials, advertising assets for the web, an online sales training program that utilized a SaaS learning management system for the global sales force.

During these years, my work started to expand from creating print-based materials to designing comprehensive solutions on digital platforms. I started to get more interested in designing holistic physical+digital solutions to complex problems. I realized that what truly interested me was designing interactions between people and the world around them. Therefore, I applied and was accepted into the Master of Design graduate program in interaction design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, PA. This was an intense, research-based design program that introduced me to the process of designing meaningful interactions between people and things. Between my first and second years at CMU, I was an intern at Groupon, and that cemented my interest in becoming a product designer.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I’m working on improving the experience for our merchant and sales-facing tools. I truly believe in human-centered research and design, and in my work, I strive to convert research insights into useful, usable and meaningful design solutions for all stakeholders who are impacted by our products.

How does the work you do connect to Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

My design efforts focus on creating meaningful engagement between merchants, the sales team, and consumers. For Groupon to be successful, consumers should be able to quickly find what they are looking for, and at the same time, merchants should be able to offer enticing deals that bring customers through their door. If we can help merchants understand the value that a partnership with Groupon can bring to them, especially as it relates to retention, other merchants would join the Groupon community as well. If we carefully manage these relationships through design and engineering, it can play a critical role in ensuring success for all parties: merchants, consumers, sales, and Groupon itself. My approach to design is to be thoughtful and caring towards all stakeholders and their needs, and if we are able to satisfy those needs, it can take us closer to building the daily habit in local commerce.

Who or what are your biggest Design influences?

My inspirations come from reading, being out in nature, and traveling to new places. In addition, I am also inspired by the talent, creativity, and passion of other designers here at Groupon.

Other influences include:

  • Philip Starck for the playful qualities in his work
  • Frank Lloyd Wright for situating buildings in context
  • Kenya Hara for the purity in his designs and his notion of “empty space”
  • Bruno Latour for opening my eyes to the importance of networks

What’s your favorite language?

Coffeescript! (at least for now!) and English.   🙂

I’ve always been interested in coding and Groupon has been very supportive in helping me develop this interest of mine. In this journey of learning, I first took a Javascript course to help me get started. Then, I started to use Framer in my own work as a prototyping tool which introduced me to Coffeescript.

Coffeescript has been really fun and challenging to learn, but being able to translate something designed in Sketch through code into something real has been truly enlightening. To my own surprise, I actually found it to be somewhat addictive and discovered that I could keep doing it for hours. And when something works the way I’ve imagined it, there is such a sense of celebration! In order to keep gaining new skills, a few of us on the merchant team started a Framer group back in 2016 and since then we’ve had a few people from the consumer team join the group as well!

What’s your favorite local business?

Accent Arts in the Alley. It’s a locally owned art supply store in Palo Alto. I love to go there to discover things I’d like to try as well as to look for drawing and watercolor supplies.

Groupon World Headquarters

Groupon Palo Alto Office

Alicia Koch – Program Manager, Employee & Community Engagement

Alicia Koch – Program Manager, Employee & Community Engagement

ALICIA KOCH

Program Manager, Employee & Community Engagement
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2013

From intern to global-employee-volunteer-program builder, Alicia has taken advantage of some massive opportunities at Groupon all while sledding down active volcanoes in Nicaragua and singing Cher songs during team karaoke outings.

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

In November 2015, I had the pleasure of traveling to Nicaragua with 5 other Grouponers who won that year’s Volunteer-a-thon (our hyper-competitive month of service held every June). We traveled with Spark Ventures to work with a local organization, Las Tías. You can read more about our trip here. To me, the coolest part about experiences like this is seeing your peers fall in love with service. You see it click; and that moment is the best reminder of why I love what I do. Aside from the volunteer component of the trip, other highlights include volcano boarding (essentially sledding) down an active volcano and zip lining through a coffee plantation—both things I can safely say I never thought I would get to do at work.

How does your role impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

My role is unique in the sense that I don’t engage with small businesses or our customers on a daily basis, but my work directly impacts our shared corporate values—particularly “Community.” Our whole business is centered around building great neighborhoods and attracting customers to the gems of a local community. The work of our employee volunteers complements this nicely by getting directly involved in these neighborhoods through the work of our nonprofit partners.

What did you do before Groupon and how did you end up here?

This is really it! I had a few other internships with nonprofit organizations and worked on campus in the Student Leadership Institute prior to starting my internship at Groupon.

What’s your biggest accomplishment here (so far)?

Very early in my full-time role at Groupon, the three managers between myself and the CEO left to pursue other opportunities outside these green walls. This initially scared me, but it gave me the platform to turn my role into whatever I wanted it to be. During this ambiguous time, I worked my butt off and took on more responsibility than what I could have envisioned for myself at that stage in my career. I learned a lot about myself personally and professionally and can thank that time of growth for where I’m at now.

What’s your favorite local business?

Rogers Park Social

What makes Groupon a unique place to work?

Here at Groupon, what you do matters. I got my start at Groupon as an intern and have had the opportunity in the past (almost) 5 years to build out a global volunteer program that has engaged over 5,000 employees in over 63,000 hours of service supporting the work of close to 650 nonprofit organizations. Even as an intern, my work and my voice was valued. I’ve gotten to build things. I’ve gotten to make things up. I’ve gotten to try a whole bunch of new things. I’ve gotten to define my own career and what I want to be when I “grow up.” That kind of trust and autonomy in employees, regardless of rank or tenure, is something truly special to Groupon.

Have you won any awards during your time here?

In Q4 of 2016, I won a “Groupon Green Award,” our internal employee recognition awards, for being “Intolerant of Mediocrity”…(award included winning some custom Converse All Stars, see below!)

As well as Awesomeness Tickets from my teammates for “Bringing the Best Snacks” and “Not Spilling Your Coffee.”

“Here at Groupon, what you do matters. I got my start at Groupon as an intern and have had the opportunity in the past (almost) 5 years to build out a global volunteer program that has engaged over 5,000 employees in over 63,000 hours of service supporting the work of close to 650 nonprofit organizations.”

Who or what inspires you?

I get to be a part of a lot of really cool events at Groupon, but the event that continues to inspire me the most is twice a year when we bring together over 100 Girl Scouts for a day of STEM education. Seeing so many young girls geek out over math and science is pretty neat.

Tell us about your involvement with Groupon for Veterans.

I got involved with Groupon for Veterans in the very beginning with a personal goal of building a more diverse and inclusive workforce for my brother by the time he gets out of the military. Little did I know, my involvement in this group would allow me to do one of my favorite things in the whole wide world—connect people. Employee engagement groups have the power to build community and connect like-minded people who otherwise may not have crossed paths. That then leads to people having conversations with and learning from people who don’t look like them, and that is an incredible thing.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

When I started at Groupon, I was a junior in college. My first interview was with a man wearing a tie-dyed Grateful Dead t-shirt, who would later become my manager and now my teammate. Next to my desk, there was an enchanted forest. And down the hall from that, there were swings hanging from the ceiling. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

If you could do another job for a day, what would it be and why?

I’ve always thought it would be oddly satisfying to be a grape masher at a winery (assuming it’s like what I’ve seen in the movies); but after a day of mucky grapes between my toes, that would be enough of that.

What do your parents think you do?

I think my parents have a pretty good understanding of what I do, with my mom also working in the nonprofit space and my dad having worked in sales and marketing for as long as I can remember; but my younger brother, Sam, is really the one who’s confused here. I get calls from him in the middle of the day starting off with “Leesh, what’s up? What are you doing?” “Umm, I’m at work.” Sam currently serves in the Army and may never see a desk job, so I get a lot of questions asking, “What do you actually do when you’re sitting there looking at your computer?”

Tell us something about you that’d surprise us.

Last summer, I participated in a ten-week competitive karaoke league with other members of my Groupon team, soloing “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher and “Soul Man” by the Blues Brothers over the course of the season. Our team was robbed of the first place title but still took home the bronze.

depaul

 

GrouponForVeterans

Groupon World Headquarters

Tristan – Engineering Intern

Tristan – Engineering Intern

TRISTAN SEIFERT

Engineering Intern
Palo Alto, CA
Texas A&M University

Future outages beware: intern Tristan wrote a script to help keep Groupon’s data centers up and running at 100%. Not bad for a summer internship!

Tell us about the team you’re working with this summer.

I’m embedded with the Systems Engineering team. I worked on critical infrastructure like DNS and load balancers. Most of the code I’ve written has consisted of Python or shell scripts since a lot of the work we do is systems administration. I’ve worked with Zeus (our Ansible-based bootstrapping system) to develop a new DNS server setup. Most of our systems run some flavor of Linux.

What’s been most surprising about interning at Groupon?

Groupon’s architecture is rather interesting. Rather than the entirety of Groupon being in one app (it used to be this way – it’s a nightmare to maintain, and even worse for performance!) most everything is split out into different services, which are owned by different teams. That means we’ve got, for example, a team that handles databases, a team responsible for the internal API, and yet another team that is in charge of the Groupon website. All of these services work together to provide the Groupon experience. Every time you click a link on the website or buy a Groupon in the app, you’re using dozens of different services! Obviously, that means there’s a lot of cross-team collaboration: we make that easy by using HipChat to communicate. It can get a bit tricky when the team you need is on the other side of the planet, but that’s what’s awesome about working at a company like Groupon.

Describe your internship in 3 words.

Stressful, innovative, rewarding.

What do your parents think you do?

They think I do some sort of magical stuff.

What’s the most innovative technology you’ve experienced in your lifetime?

Fast, reliable Internet access. Without that, none of the other technology we have would ever work. Having grown up on dial-up or otherwise fragile connections, I can appreciate fast, reliable Internet a lot more.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve accomplished this summer?

The project I worked on my first week at Groupon was a small script that would verify whether files being passed to the DNS servers were formatted correctly, and if not, roll back to a previous version of the DNS data to put the system back into a functional state. This made it into production across all of Groupon’s data centers by the end of my first week here, which will help prevent outages in the future!

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

1984 by George Orwell

What’s your favorite spot for grub in the Bay Area?

Layne’s: they’ve got the absolute best fried chicken.

 

Groupon World Headquarters

Jennifer – Engineering intern

Jennifer – Engineering intern

JENNIFER BE

Software Development Engineering Intern
Chicago, IL
UC Berkeley

Who wouldn’t feel a little thrown off by a giant cat spaceship greeting them on the first day of their internship? Jennifer spills the details of her summer in Chicago as an Engineering intern.

What team are you interning for?

The Deal Management team!

And what does this team do?

We’re in charge of applications that support and maintain deals (user interfaces, APIs, and workflows) that both our internal staff and our merchants use. Any deal you see on the Groupon site has passed through one or more of the Deal Management services! So far I’ve had the chance to dig around and work on stories from three of my team’s services, primarily using Ruby on Rails with some Angular sprinkled in.

More importantly, what do your parents think you do?

They think I do “computer stuff.”

What’s the coolest thing you’ve accomplished this summer?

Just walking around the city, I’ve stumbled upon some really cool things! Like the Blues Festival in Millennium Park or the fancy rolled ice cream place in Chinatown!

What’s the most innovative technology you’ve experienced in your lifetime?

I’d have to see VR. I once tried out this simulation where I was in a room and the floor around me dropped, so I was on a small sliver of ground and it told me to jump. I couldn’t stop shaking, and the only reason I eventually jumped is because the headset wasn’t fully on my head and I couldn’t see the ground below me.

Your Instagram is mainly photos of…

…very brightly filtered pictures from high school.

What’s your favorite restaurant in your current city?

It’s not a restaurant, but I fell in love with Mariano’s, the grocery store! It has everything you’ll ever need, plus lots of hot food, smoothies, and my favorite: fresh-squeezed orange juice!

What’s been the most surprising thing so far about interning at Groupon?

If you’ve ever been to the Groupon office, you may have noticed lines of black and green jackets on peoples’ chairs. The reason for this is because Groupon gives green Adidas track jackets to employees after they hit their two-year anniversary and a black track jacket after their five-year anniversary. It’s super cool to see that there are so many people sporting the jackets who have stayed at the company for so long.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

“Oh boy, what did I get myself into?” So keep in mind, I started my first day of work a day after arriving in Chicago for the first time, and all alone. I was still a little disoriented the next day, and saw this huge cat in a spaceship when I stepped onto the main floor of the office. That, along with a bunch more goofy designs and room names around the office, really help capture the Groupon spirit for me. My team especially has been really great at maintaining a good work/play balance for me.

Who or what inspires you?

Definitely my family. Early on, they instilled in me a sense of responsibility, and have always helped me see the bigger picture in everything I do!

If you could do any job for a day, what would you do and why?

I would work at a Gelato shop! I would probably be the one employee that gets fired for taking too many samples, but it would still be pretty fun. Also, it would be cool to have free reign to come up with new flavors.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Make life less boring,

There’s so much out there to do!

Groupon will help you.

Groupon World Headquarters

Adam – Engineering Intern

Adam – Engineering Intern

ADAM SUSKIN

Software Development Engineering Intern
Palo Alto
Georgia Institute of Technology

Groupon doesn’t always have magician interns with us for the summer, but when we do, we make sure they’re secretly Engineers who create their own iPhone games at age 14.

Tell us about the team you’re interning with!

I’m working on the Platform Data Engineering team in Palo Alto. We’re focused on real-time metrics. By enabling real-time metrics for other teams as opposed to batch metrics, teams are able to reach conclusions faster. These results are what Groupon bases decisions on, so the speed of delivery and reliability of data is of paramount importance to the success of the company. I get to play a small part in that!

Describe your internship in 3 words.

Collaborative, caffeine-powered, and forward thinking.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done this summer? 

I built a full-stack application that makes other teams’ jobs easier! What’s better than that?

What’s the most innovative technology you’ve experienced in your lifetime?

My first iPhone really changed my life. Yes, being able to browse the internet anywhere you go in order to settle all of those little debates you have with friends is really handy to win a few bets, but my iPhone was how I got interested in developing. Publishing an app in 9th grade got me hooked on the computer science track, and ultimately is how I ended up at Groupon!

“When you’re immediately working on a project on day two and can see its plan being included in quarterly planning meetings and OKRs, it really does confirm that a Groupon intern’s work makes a difference.”

OK, back up…you published an iPhone app in 9th grade?!

I made a game called Sky Climber which is pretty similar to Doodle Jump, but I thought it was the next big game. It was pretty tough to make since I didn’t know about existing frameworks or APIs that were commonly used to build games (like Cocos2D). I had to write a bunch of code to simulate several principles of physics from scratch. Forgetting the cheesy plot and annoying 30-second disco music loop, the game was actually pretty fun to play. I also changed some of the code for when you beat the game but never tested it. Only after it was released did I learn that the game crashes when you win. The funny thing is that I know no one beaten it because I never got any crash reports!

Who or what inspires you?

My parents emigrated from South Africa in their mid-20s to a country with no family or friends, shared meals to save money, and positioned themselves to provide their children with the best education possible. My mom worked while pregnant, and my dad had to redo a lot of work to carry over his medical certification. They chose to leave in order to provide my older brother and me with opportunity, and now my job is to take complete advantage of the opportunities provided to me and prove to them that their big decision paid off. I’d like to think I’m on the right track, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

Speaking of your parents, what do they think you do?

Oh, man. My mom thinks computers work like magic, so I guess that makes me a magician!

What’s your favorite restaurant in your city?

It’s super touristy, but Humphry Slocombe’s ice cream is the best I’ve ever had.

If you could do any other job for a day, what would you do and why?

I would love to play in just one pro soccer match with some of my idols (Iniesta is my #1). I wouldn’t even have to play in a match. I could just go to a practice. The team would probably (definitely) cut me before the day is up.

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Groupon worships cats

I’m more of a dog person

I still love it here

Groupon World Headquarters

Umang – Engineering intern

Umang – Engineering intern

UMANG BHATT

Software Development Intern
Chicago, IL
Carnegie Mellon University

New Jersey native Umang talks about how self-driving cars in Pittsburgh are NBD and how he slowly came to accept Groupon’s weird obsession with cats.

Tell us about the team you’re interning for.

I’m working on the Supply Intelligence and Dynamic Pricing team. On the supply intelligence team, we work to decide which merchants Groupon should target to onboard next. Using our proprietary machine learning model, we automatically curate calling lists for every Groupon sales representative around the world. On the dynamic pricing side, we are building a pricing engine that handles price changes for Groupon deals based on demand forecasting and deal performance. Intelligent prices drive value for merchants as well as keep customers engaged; our goal is to continuously iterate to derive the optimal price of a Groupon deal.

Describe your internship in 3 words:

Satisfying, eye-opening, Jabber-filled.

What was your first impression of Groupon? 

“Groupon rhymes with coupon; well, this ought to be an interesting summer.” My experience here has been much less interesting/mundane and much more fascinating/demanding. How can Groupon strategize to stay at the forefront of its niche? How can Groupon become a daily habit for all users? These are questions I toil with every day with my manager and mentors, who help make my every day at work intense yet rewarding. An aside: the cat obsession really confused me for the first week or so, but then you become immune to it, don’t worry.

“It’s awesome to see how open everyone is to meeting 1:1 to talk about their work and to get to know you on a personal level. Be it a first-year engineer or a senior director, everyone is welcoming and ready to grab coffee or lunch. All they will say when you ask is ‘toss time on my calendar’.”

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired in two ways. In regards to my personality and character, I am inspired by my guru, Mahant Swami Maharaj. His humility, patience, and happiness leave me awestruck every day. I strive to emulate his qualities in all that I do so that I too can live a fulfilling and spiritual life. In terms of my career, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Sundar Pichai, Ben Horowitz, and the like keep me hungry for more. Reading about their ethic, focus, and grit shows me what I need to bring to the table if I want to see my product vision become a reality.

What’s the most innovative technology you’ve experienced in your lifetime?

Going to school in Pittsburgh, I feel self-driving cars are no longer abnormal. Aside from the smart phone and the personal computer as hallmarks of innovation, I have to say the self-driving cars I see on a daily basis are one of the most innovative pieces of technology we have today.

Your Instagram is mainly photos of….

My failed attempts of landscape photos of the places I visit and portrait photos of the people I spend time with.

What do your parents think you do?

My mom thinks I code, my dad thinks I’m in Sales.

Favorite restaurant in your current city?

Bad Hunter in the West Loop.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

Need something to do?

Find the best deals right near you.

Just download Groupon!

Groupon World Headquarters

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

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

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


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.

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.

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.

Duncan: Engineering Intern and Pokeman Master

Duncan: Engineering Intern and Pokeman Master

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.

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 😉).

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.

Lily – Engineering intern

Lily – Engineering intern

Lily FulopHi 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!

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!)

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!

 

Lily Fulop_pride paradeLily Fulop_other interns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josh: Philosopher and Chicken McNugget Expert

Josh: Philosopher and Chicken McNugget Expert

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.

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?

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

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.

On conquering butterfly swimming technique & a massive codebase

On conquering butterfly swimming technique & a massive codebase

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!

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.

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

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!

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.

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!