Emily – Product Management Intern

Emily – Product Management Intern

EMILY PRICE

Product Management Intern
Chicago, IL
California University of Pennsylvania

40 bugs, 20 new features, 13 countries, 2 projects, 1 amazing summer internship: Emily shares her experience as a Product Management intern at Groupon (not as an exterminator, despite the bug work)

Tell us about the work you’re doing this summer!

At the beginning of the summer, I had two main projects: conduct a purchase funnel audit for EMEA/APAC and launch Welcome Cards on Mobile Web and Desktop. The audit spanned thirteen different countries and required coordination across multiple international departments. With the help of diligent Groupon employees from each country, over 40 bugs and 20 possible new features were identified. The Welcome Card project has transformed into redesigning the homepage. As the Product Manager for the re-design, I get to work with key stakeholders from different engineering teams, design, and marketing.

What’s your favorite memory from your summer here?

The group cooking class was spectacular! I hand-rolled noodles for about an hour, but who doesn’t love a good workout before filling up on pasta?

Describe your internship experience in 3 words.

Challenging, marvelous, and empowered.

What’s your biggest accomplishment this summer?

Although I will no longer be interning for Groupon when the new homepage design comes into fruition, my requirements and experiment sequence will help lay the foundation and that’s really exciting.

What do your parents think you do?

They’ve been telling people, “She finds bugs.” So now everyone thinks I’m some kind of exterminator.

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

Amazon Echo

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

The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan (please don’t judge me!)

What’s your top place for eats in Chicago?

Au Cheval

What was the most surprising thing about interning at Groupon?

I was treated like a full-time employee from the start!

 

Groupon World Headquarters

Emily: junior at Johns Hopkins spending the summer with not 1, but 2 teams

Emily: junior at Johns Hopkins spending the summer with not 1, but 2 teams

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.

Emily Brahma

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

(Fellow interns Lily, Abby and JT with Emily @ the Chicago 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.

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

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

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!

 

Preetam…senior at CMU & first-time west coaster

Preetam…senior at CMU & first-time west coaster

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! My name is Preetam Amancharla. I’m an Associate Product Management Intern with the Redemption team. I’m originally from Bangalore, India and currently a rising senior at Carnegie Mellon University majoring in Electrical & Computer Engineering with a minor in Computational Neuroscience. Also, for the past 2 summers, I was part of a research group at CMU working on voice recognition for a tutoring app. Given my background, you might be wondering why I’m interning as a PM…

Why Product Management?

I like making decisions about various aspects of a product. When reflecting on my previous experience, I enjoyed leading and coordinating different elements of a team. Lastly, I wanted to see something that I envisioned come to life; being a PM allows you to do exactly that!

Tell us a little more about your team.

The primary goal of the redemption team is to encourage customers to use their Groupons. The mantra of the team is basically “Buy, Redeem, Repeat”. When a customer has a good redemption experience, they are more likely to buy a Groupon again. We also help customers with poor redemption experiences, such as expiration (when a customer misses out on redeeming their Groupon). My team works on several different products to solve that issue.

Redemption is the core value proposition when it comes to a customer’s relationship with Groupon. It is a critical aspect for the company. I truly believe in the importance of a good customer experience while redeeming a Groupon. This probably comes as a result of being surrounded by people who care about what they’re doing and want to make an impact.

(Preetam and Amrut presenting for an Intern Lunch & Learn session)

What specifically do you work on?

I can summarize my summer into two products:

First, I’ve been working on a pilot project which helps users with expiring vouchers get more time to redeem. When I joined Groupon, this product was already going through the initial testing phase. My main priority has been to optimize the product which means ensuring that more people successfully engage with it. In order to do this, I specifically focus on notifications and product placement to tell users about the program while making sure they have a seamless experience.

Second, I’ve been working on incorporating the Redemption signal into our Relevance engine based on the time of day and day of week. Without going into too much detail, this project thinks about optimizing redemption from the point of deal discovery. If you can use it now, why not buy it now? I’m really excited to be working on this because it involves building something from the ground up and the integration of my own ideas into a core part of the company!

What have you done outside of work this summer?

This summer is my first time on the west coast so I’ve been very eager to explore. After experiencing a wide range of activities, I am a now massive fan of the Bay Area. My favorite memories include visiting Dolores Park and Panther Beach (which is by far the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen!). Also, one of the best intern events was playing Bubble Soccer! Let’s just say that I overexerted myself, but ultimately it was a really fun time with fun people…which coincidentally is a also how I would describe my internship with Groupon – a really fun time with fun people!

Product Management Intern Kavya

Product Management Intern Kavya

The #GrouponU Blog is back for 2015! We’ll regularly feature a Groupon intern or recent college grad telling you about their experience tackling challenging problems and working with our teams. Kavya is a Product Management intern in our Palo Alto office who got to work on Groupon’s app for Samsung’s new smartwatch.

Who am I? 

My name is Kavya Gundavaram and I’m a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying Computer Science with a minor in Business.

What do you do? 

I am a product manager (PM) intern on the mobile team in Palo Alto.

And what does a Product Manager do, exactly? 

Think of a product manager as an orchestra director. An orchestra is comprised of musicians who are each good at one instrument; so, as a director, you need to define what is going to be played and give high-level instructions so they follow your lead in synchrony. If you provide unclear signals, then you get a bad output and you’re responsible for fixing it.

Just like an orchestra director, product managers are mini CEO’s of a product area and take on various roles: they are responsible for identifying profitable opportunities in the product area they are working on, launch products to market, oversee them and analyze metrics to ensure the products are successful. Product managers work with a variety of people in the company ranging from other PM’s to engineers, designers, QA, and marketing.

What are you working on this summer? 

As a product intern on the mobile team, I have had the wonderful opportunity of working on a variety of projects. One project was a secret until a few days ago. I, along with one engineer and a designer, worked on building the Groupon app for the new Samsung Gear S2  – Samsung’s new wearable device that launched a couple weeks ago. This project truly made me feel like a mini CEO! The watch app allows users to browse nearby deals, view details, and purchase…all from the watch! As a PM working on a standalone project with little knowledge of new technology, I had a great learning experience. I learned to juggle various priorities for features, engineering roadblocks, and manage multiple timelines.

I also worked on several other smaller projects relating to proximity notifications; geo-fence based push notifications about relevant deals that are sent to users when they are near merchants. I was able to learn how A/B tests work and what data a PM can analyze and how it affects the success metrics of a product.

What’s the best part of interning at Groupon? 

My summer at Groupon has been amazing! The combination of real world projects that will impact millions of users, strong mentorship, smart co-workers, and passion for the product has made this internship the best one yet. Never would I have imagined I would be able to work on such impactful projects as an intern and have full ownership through the release cycle. I was able to meet with my manager and discuss what I was interested in at the beginning of the internship and I was given full autonomy and flexibility to work on things I enjoyed.

The best part of my internship has definitely been the people. Everyone is extremely smart and passionate about the product and being a PM on a consumer product means we can directly see the impact of our work! I cannot thank my team enough for everything they have taught me – all the way from defining a product to successfully launching it to market.

What was the highlight of the summer? 

The highlight of the summer has to be our mobile PM team offsite. We went rafting on the American River near Sacramento. It was awesome hanging out with the team outside the office and getting to know each other better while crushing rapids on a raft!

To end on a fun note, here’s a comic of how a product manager can get their code featured:

6° of Grouponation: Shinji on the Evolution of Groupon Technology

6° of Grouponation: Shinji on the Evolution of Groupon Technology

With 6° of Grouponation, we’ll chat with employees who have hit their six-year mark—an impressive milestone for Groupon. Shinji, currently an Engineering Director, has seen Groupon’s technology group evolve immensely since starting his career here.

Name: Shinji
Title: Engineering Director
Start Date: May of 2009

What is your title and what do you do?

I’m an Engineering Director, so I manage Engineers and Product Managers here in Chicago as well as two teams in Berlin. All of these technology teams are part of our “commerce platform,” essentially e-commerce sub-systems.

We have many software systems for different segments of the business:

  • Finance and accounting automation for merchant payments
  • “Deal catalog” which is sort of an aggregation of all the deals we run across the different businesses
  • Voucher inventory services, which are basically the same thing but on a unit level (for Local its vouchers, Goods it’s products, Getaways it’s bookings, etc.)
  • Our deal management API and internal deal management tools

So what was Groupon like in 2009?

The Point had just started hiring for Groupon when I came on board. At that time, there were about 20 people total and I think five of us had started that week. The main focus was still The Point—essentially, Groupon felt like a new project that was starting to work. About six months in, it was obvious that Groupon was the future of the company.

And what was Tech like in 2009, specifically?

There were three of us in tech and everything was in classic startup mode: everyone did everything. When I started, The Point was a single Rails app that was built to run community campaigns with tipping points. Groupon was originally launched via WordPress, and every night someone would go in and launch the “deal of the day” as a new post in the blog. My first project was to get Groupon off of WordPress and onto The Point. In the early days we were building features; we were excited when we launched the ability to buy more than 1 unit at a time. That sort of thing.

How has tech changed as an organization since 2009?

From my perspective we’ve gone from doing what a startup does (proving you have something people want to buy), to maintaining that, iterating on it, and building new businesses alongside it. In the beginning it was one piece: the site. Now we have all those other components in place as well to try to improve the life cycle (finance, accounting systems, merchant center, etc.).

What has kept you here for 6 years?

Groupon, which is still very much a growth company even though growth looks different now than it did 3-5 years ago, is a place where things change very quickly. On a professional and personal level, that means a lot of opportunities. I’ve been here six years and I’ve been in many different jobs and teams within the technology department, so it doesn’t feel like it’s been only one job in that sense.

Another thing is the culture. It’s characterized by openness, accessibility, and irreverence. This is a place where people don’t take themselves too seriously, and that’s really important to me.

What advice do you have for someone interested in joining Tech at Groupon?

It’s possible to be professionally rewarded by being aggressively honest. This is a place where people value truth telling. Giving people the benefit of the doubt and creating spaces to tell the truth is a great professional strategy, but it’s hard to do that if you’re at all cynical about relationships, business, corporations, etc. I think if I had been very cynical and cagey about my opinions, it wouldn’t have gone as well.