Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about Drop.
Ian: I’ve been at Drop for about two years in my current role. I’m the Vice President of Engineering I lead the team. I scale the team and work with engineers closely.
Prior to Drop, I come from Airbnb where I also had held similar roles. In the early days, I’ve also done financial engineering as an engineer, so very much software engineer background.
Ivan: I’m a backend engineer at Drop. I’m relatively early employee. I was number seven. And this is my first time Engineering role. Prior to this, I was working predominantly working on marketing roles in London, UK. I did the boot camp and moved to Toronto after that and landed at Drop. So it’s been a really interesting journey joining as number seven and seeing us about 60 people now.
What are some elements you look for specifically on the resume?
Ivan: For me, first and foremost, is really experience and also experience, whether that’s industry experience, or project experience. When I when I read resumes, as it’s really important that candidates do a good effort in highlighting what that experience is and really understanding the projects. So even if it’s industry experience, what I would really like to know is what projects have you built, what teams have you worked worked with. So experience really is the thing that sticks out for me.
Do you count the hackathon experience or side projects they’ve done on weekends?
Ian: Absolutely hackathon experience or weekend projects. For me, it’s really about learning the drive. And if I’m an individual, so for example, with a hackathon, it’s less important to know that you’ve won the entire hackathon. And definitely that’s a plus or a bonus, but just participating in a hackathon and in your resume or online doing a really good job in describing what you’ve built. Goes goes way longer. And so again, it goes back to the experience and what projects someone’s working on.
Any tips on Github or personal online personal portfolio?
Ivan: I don’t really review the applications as they come in. But once you get to the interview stage, especially looking at kind of the CV, the LinkedIn profile, GitHub is kind of conversation points that you want to, you want to pick up on and then speak to candidate about. So it is important for the candidates to highlight that and then it kind of gives the interviewer ammunition and conversation wins once you come into the room.
Ian: I’ll add two things to that extra. So for people’s personal GitHub for me, in reviewing candidates, I actually do click into people’s GitHub, you know, ideally, look at the code that they produce the comments that they’re adding, the pull requests, when it comes to personal websites. What I really like is when people create interactive demos of what they’ve built and I know that’s tends to go tends to require a bit more effort, but for me and reviewing candidates, it makes it really easy so I can understand that project instead of diving into the details. I will do that but it makes it so much more convenient if you make it interactive.
Going back to the personal websites do you recommend to build something from scratch or use an existing frameworks?
Ivan: If you build something from scratch than is certainly more impressive. I guess that does get the pass but it is I think it is more about me at least just communicating the projects you’ve worked on. And and kind of your involvement in those.
What should the candidate prepare for the interview?
Ian: So I deal with the technical interview and part of that is an in person coding test. And it’s a relatively simple problem. And again, similar to kind of Ian’s comment on Hackathon. It’s not really when the hackathon and it’s not really about solving the problem. It’s more about how you kind of interact with us the questions you ask how you kind of respond to our prompts and and kind of take that prompt and take it to the next level. So I’m kind of those, you can practice kind of these practice with your colleagues with your friends who are also developers, just going through these kind of coding challenges and and just talking to each other just to get used to speaking your mind. That’s that’s one tip for for our interview practice.
Ian: My main tip would be mostly around communication as simple and obvious as it sounds. As an engineer, it’s definitely important to review your algorithms, practice actually coding, but if you put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer, so like myself, either if I’m in a phone call, or an in person interview, where I really want the candidate to communicate clearly and articulate themselves. So if we work through different problems, ideally, you’re not just sitting there for five minutes thinking through the problem and solving it accurately. The level up on that is that you’re actually sharing your thought process and communicating and I would say in preparation, it’s like definitely table stakes is you know, get your technical skills in order. But then the real goal is to communicate because at the end of the day for us as interviewers, we’re trying to learn more about candidates, and the ones that stand out are the ones that really do a good job in describing their thought process, you know, how they are approaching problems.
Any other soft skills that you potentially look for like during the interview?
Ian: I think that there’s this aspect of you exuding some level of confidence. And that showed in your body language, these are general orientation and general level of energy. For drop, it’s really important that we find people that have, they’re not only passionate about the project, but passion about working with other people. And a big part of that, is it how you come off in your overall body posture and attention.
What’s exciting about the current tech stack you use?
Ian: At Drop we build a mobile rewards platform, right. And what we do is intelligently surface offers and brands for our users. And so I drop we partner with over 300 brands. And we utilize machine learning, that that leverages that data to really make the lives of our consumers better. And so what we build is a lifestyle app that provides as many rewards as possible to you in your in your daily life as you spend. So going back to the actual tech stack, since we’re a mobile app, what we use is React Native, as well as TypeScript, Redux Redux Saga. So what you’ll notice is that we have a mobile app. We’re not building natively, we’re using technologies like React Native for places that we build on web, mainly the website that you see joy drop calm, as well. We have a Google Chrome plugin that’s in beta. Those are built in react. So on the front end, you’re seeing a lot of reactive React Native. If you go deeper into the stack in the back end, everything is running on Amazon, AWS and RDS. So our main application on the back end are API’s. They’re built in Ruby on Rails, that all sits on top of a Postgres transactional database. So that’s our main stack. For the most part, we do have a data warehouse because for Drop up a key differentiator and how we really service offers is through the data that we process. So going deeper into the stack, we have what’s known as a ETL, pipeline, exchange, transform, load, or extract, transform and load which is written in Python. It we also use air flow, which is open source by Airbnb. And the data warehouse itself is in redshift. We also use s3 as our data lake and our machine learning pipelines are also built in Python using several open source machine learning.
Ivan: One comment and we’ll say is building fun, we have a database and you mentioned kind of we, we have a large kind of 40 more transactions, we have an interesting problem, which we’ve highlighted in the recent blog post where we run out of space and one of our database tables, and we had to kind of come up with innovative workaround for that. So these are interesting kind of how we using price rise and some of the problems we face, you can head over to our to our engineering blog. And read an article written by one of my colleagues she explains the problem that we’re facing, and then kind of I think it’s quite an innovative workaround.
What programming languages do you look for?
What’s it like to work at Drop?
Ivan: I genuinely enjoy coming into work every day. It’s a great atmosphere, great culture. Everyone gets along. And if I live in Brampton, so it’s kind of an hour and a half commute, but it’s worthwhile for me to come into the office and kind of get really energized to come to work. There’s a very open culture. Everyone is happy to teach it teach each other there’s no there’s no kind of idea of you know please come back to me later is like you have a problem, then everyone is very open and receptive kind of teaching and learning from each other. That’s one of the main kind of traits about coaching and learning environments.
Ian: For me that the main things really are that it’s a fun environment and one that’s high in collaboration. So you know, what we really pride ourselves on with ourselves. And also when we interview externally, it’s like people that work well with the team. You know, we believe that the best ideas come from anywhere. And what that means is that when you’re working together, we want to hear everyone’s voice and opinion. And you see that day to day like, actually, just yesterday, I was in a brainstorming session with our team product design engineering. I think it’s really collaboration is the thing that sticks out and I mentioned earlier, fun. We tend to have a lot of fun together, we were working quite a bit together. And so it’s important that we that we have fun while we’re doing it, and you can see that a lot in our office with the elements with with what we have to do that keeps people engaged.
What are some perks at Drop?
Ivan: Once in a while will say over the summer we went to Jays game we went to Cherry Beach for kind of product engineering design beta team, all of those teams went to to the beach for the day just to kind of have some time away from the office and then kind of interact on a more social level. So once a month, they’ll be some excursion.
Ian: In terms of perks, Monday, Wednesdays Fridays, we have in office catered lunches, and so it’s a great time for everyone to really get together in the office and it’s a great perk, but I oh I haven’t already mentioned a lot of the the team outings that we have. So what we like to do is, you know, not always have outings that are focused on just drinking. We do things that are active culinary when they are like we’ve done like axe throwing in the past. We have this tradition called Drop Thursdays, and it’ll it’ll change up from time to time, but like the recent one, we were playing board games in the office. And so we really spend time to not just work together but play together. And do in a really fun fashion around the area that we’re in the Toronto.
What roles are you currently hiring for?
Ian: We’ve closed our Series B round. It was led by Hawk Capital. Year to date, so Drop been around for four years. In aggregate, we raised around 71 million US dollars alone. The reason why I bring that up is given that we recently closed our Series B round we’re really looking to grow, grow in our product, and definitely grow in team. So the priorities right now we have a lot of roles open within engineering. That’s both in product development, feature development, but also infrastructure and data. So across all of those roles, we’re hiring, as I mentioned earlier, we’re not looking for a particular programming language expertise. Added to that it’s a combination of front end roles back end rules, full stack. So the way that that works is on our team, we have several members that specialize in front end, you know, or the back end, where people that are also full stack. So all of those roles are open today. What’s really important to us is that we get to meet candidates get to learn about their skill sets, and wherever that lies in the front end back in our full stack. We have conversations and this is where for myself as a hiring manager, I’ve had conversations with candidates on the best fits for teams. And so all of those roles are open, I would say it’s really across the entire range of junior, mid, and senior experience.
How does how does your schedule look like for hiring co-ops?
Ian: Last co-op season we did have two interns. Actually since this quarter has been quite busy for us for everyone so we paused for just this one quarter, but it starting in January 2020 we’re looking to hire additional interns, actually, I’ve been was one of the managers feel free to share it.
Ivan: Coached student from Waterloo. So we had a round of interviews, about March time speaking with maybe 10-12 candidates. And another colleague of mine had another sort of 10-12 candidates. And we chose kind of one one in 10 that we wanted to bring on board. And it was a really rewarding experience kind of having that level of that that experience of mentoring someone kind of helping them with their career and just kind of being able to teach them and give them advice, not only from a technical perspective, but you know, simple things about how to act in meetings and how to communicate to others. It was a really rewarding experience.
Ian: We do try to make it a great experience for interns where it’s a combination of them learning, but also us giving them challenges. And so a big part of that, for example, I know that I’ve been paid a lot of attention to his intern throughout the days and weeks and making sure closer to the midpoint of that internship, we reach this sort of capstone or milestone project so that it’s like sort of an end to end project that the intern is owning, but we make sure we do it at a pace that’s that’s right for every different individual.
What besides advice do you have for applicants out there to kind of stand out?
Ivan: I can speak from my own experience from boot camp and was looking to land my first engineering role. And I found that the kind of sweet spots are the very small companies which which was at the time where the team has kind of the capacity to absorb you and kind of give you that one to one with that relatively close mentoring or it’s going to be a larger company, which has the process in place to kind of take on a relatively new grad. And so I would if you’re a new bootcamp grad school, kind of just looking for your first job, I think those my piece of advice would be to focus on the smaller companies where you can kind of build a very close relationship with a mentor there and accelerate through learning. Or you can go into a more established company that has kind of the processes and resources to help you on that journey.
Ian: I’d say have two main tips main pieces of advice. One is as a candidate for any company that you consider joining, it’s really important to have an understanding of the product. And again, it sounds obvious, but at times, I find that candidates haven’t even downloaded the app. And I think you downloading the app is just the first step. It’s actually you know, logging into the apps signing up and using the features day to day. So that is really, really important because as you interview with the company and the team, what you want to do is start sharing your ideas about how the product can be better. And so what that builds is, is a really understanding of the product, but also starting to build up a passion for what we’re doing. Because any company that you join, you really want to care a lot about the product and have an understanding. And so at the get go, it’s really important to do that. That’s the main piece of advice.
The second piece of advice, I would say, there’s a lot that I could share, I think looking for opportunities isn’t just about the company, it’s also about the team. So LinkedIn is actually a really great tool to do research on a company. So if you for example, just look up Drop click on people, you’ll see everyone that’s they’re doing just spending even like 10 minutes of research of who are the people there for other engineers on the team. What are their backgrounds? As a new candidate, you want to know that you’re joining a team of people that you can learn from and for example, we have people at Drop that come from Airbnb, myself, there’s an Amazon, Ritual or Goldman Sachs and all this you can quickly look up yourself. So both passion for the product as well as learning about the team is really important.