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.