Meet current recent grads working in engineering



Ben
Ben
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Class of 2014
Major: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Favorite Snack: Swedish Fish

Q: What surprised you about TripAdvisor (that you didn't expect)?

A: The level of autonomy I had -- I could make significant decisions about the design and goals of my project, and could commit my changes directly to the main code base.

Q: What is something you've learned at TripAdvisor?

A: Scalability is hard. Working with large volumes of data demands creative program design and careful attention to detail. Traditional patters often break down as they scale, so new techniques need to be researched and created.

Q: How has interning at TA changed your thought process?

A: I have a better appreciation of how many small projects can work together to form a larger project -- like the TripAdvisor website, which is a composition of dozens of independent parts.

Q: What was the most interesting part of your project?

A: My project used Hadoop, a distributed processing framework, to distribute a large data-processing job across an arbitrary number of machines. The most interesting part was figuring out how to share several gigabytes of data among the machines -- I used a combination of shared data servers, flat-file databases replicated to each machine, and in-memory caches to fix bottlenecks.

Q: How does the TripAdvisor community factor in?

A: Working in a small, tight-knit team was a perfect environment -- it allowed me to play a significant role in my team and work on a meaningful project while also having plenty of people to discuss ideas with.

Q: Any advice to for future interns?

A: Make sure you ask potential employers about the company's team dynamics. What is the company's balance between autonomy and oversight? Know how much supervision and structure you want, and look for positions that provide that framework.

Shunfei
Shunfei
Education: Binghamton University
Major: Computer Science
Favorite Snack: Pocky

Q: What is one thing you learned in school that you've used at TripAdvisor?

A: Programming Languages, Database, Algorithm, Design Patterns.

Q: What's the best part of your job?

A: People here are smart, nice and willing to help. When I first came here, people provided me with all kinds of help to make me get familiar with the code base and up to speed.

Q: What's something that is unique to TripAdvisor?

A: Speed wins-- every week we push new functionalities live. Most of the projects take 2-4 days.

Q: What is something you've learned at TripAdvisor?

A: There are so many things I have learned here. One of the most important things is that in real world, more time can be spent on optimizing and testing. It is not just to make things work. We deeply care about the performance.

Q: What has been your favorite/most interesting project?

A: My favorite project is adding a new filter to our restaurant listings.

Q: How does the TripAdvisor community factor in?

A: You can always talk to people about your ideas. For every project we work on, we can always make suggestions to the project manager or team leader and tell him/her what we think and how we are going to accomplish it, s/he will listen to us and discuss with us. This makes me feel like I am respected and that I am doing real job.

Q: How has your job expanded your skill set?

A: We always learn new skills here. We read books and discuss it together every week. A lot of the skills we picked up at school are sharpened here.

Q: What surprised you about TripAdvisor (that you didn't expect)?

A: We have a lot of fun here. Although we have a lot of projects going on everyday, and people are busy, we enjoy every minute of it. Plus we have happy hours every week.

Andrew
Andrew
Education: Carnegie Mellon University
Major: Computer Science
Favorite Snack: Ruffles

Q: What is one thing you learned in school that you've used at TripAdvisor?

A: All the programming languages and algorithms I learned are useful.

Q: What's the best part of your job?

A: People treat you well. Since I feel like I'm respected, I actually strive to make what I do better instead of just getting it done. For instance in other companies you might not be allowed to use AIM to communicate with your coworkers because you might misuse it. At TripAdvisor, as long as you are getting your work done, it doesn't matter. This freedom and trust makes me more relaxed and allows me to work better and more passionately.

Q: What's something that is unique to TripAdvisor?

A: The idea of "speed wins". It is better to release something that is 90% "good" quickly than spend a long time perfecting it, because it can be perfected later to fit what users actually want.

Q: What is something you've learned at TripAdvisor?

A: I've learned that you don't always have to beautify a project because a designer can always make it prettier faster.

Q: What has been your favorite/most interesting project?

A: My favorite project, so far, has been creating the TripAdvisor mobile application for the Android phone.

Q: How does the TripAdvisor community factor in?

A: It's one of the most important things. It is very helpful if you have a problem. If you have a new idea, you can talk to your boss or project manager, and they will actually listen to you. It makes me feel like I am part of a community and not just a minion doing grunt work.

Michael
Michael
Education: Carnegie Mellon University
Major: Computer Science
Favorite Snack: Animal Crackers

Q: What is one thing you learned in school that you've used at TripAdvisor?

A: The theory of SQL.

Q: What surprised you about TripAdvisor (that you didn't expect)?

A: TripAdvisor is dedicated to doing code reviews, which is great because it helps eliminate bugs and teaches me how to write better code.

Q: What is something you've learned at TripAdvisor?

A: I've learned that scalable coding approaches are not as easy as they initially seem.

Q: How has your job expanded your skill set?

A: I've made websites before, but I haven't worked on such a massive site with so much activity. I am beginning to think on a much larger scale.

Q: What has been your favorite/most interesting project?

A: The most interesting one has been creating TripAdvisor's internal project management application and making it play nice and communicate with other internal tools. It was a great learning project since it touched all the components of web development while also needing to work with a reasonable user and data set sizes.

Q: How does the TripAdvisor community factor in?

A: I know where I would be without my coworkers' helpfulness. It's great that you can just email or come over to a cube or office, and someone will find time to gladly help you. In addition, each person adds his or her own humor and sarcasm to the mix, which makes for a helpful and entertaining environment.