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

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

Coding Across Silos: What One Intern Learned at Groupon

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

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

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

How did being an ADA intern at Groupon impact you?

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

Why is the partnership important to Groupon?

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

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

Why is the partnership important to you professionally? Personally?

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

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

What did you learn as a student or mentor?

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

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

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

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

What differentiates Groupon Engineering from other Tech companies?

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

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

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.