As I scurry to Little Star Pizza without breaking a sweat, I ask for Anna’s delivery and pride myself on finally tackling that New Year’s resolution of staying fit. Welcome to my first day at DoorDash, where my first task as a Software Engineering Intern was to learn our technology by delivering food.
I love testing our software by actually hitting the streets and completing deliveries, because it allows me to gain first-hand understanding of the impact of my work. As an engineer on the Dispatch team, we focus on problems related to the underlying logistics of on-demand delivery such as picking the optimal delivery route, reducing restaurant wait times, maximizing Dasher efficiency, building models to predict the number of Dashers on the road, finding the best Dasher-consumer pair, and more. When we successfully reduce wait times, for example, it’s not just numbers we see, but actual Dasher stories to share.
I did not come into my internship being told what to do. Instead, I spent the first weeks deploying four different features in three code bases that the Dispatch team mainly uses. Then, I had a discussion with my mentor, Richard, about my particular interests. I picked the open-ended problem of improving batching — offering a Dasher multiple deliveries in a given time span — which allows her to earn more money.
The first question was where to start. I spent a few days thinking about ways to ensure that my program would be intelligent enough to pick out quality batches. At DoorDash, we strive for a strong balance between quality and quantity. This means that every batch my program creates should not only be on time, but should also provide increased earnings for both Dashers and the company. After some back and forth discussion with the business team, we were able to come up with an algorithm to filter out bad batches. Through this process, I learned the importance of communicating effectively within and across teams at DoorDash.
As the weeks flew by, I realized that my colleagues and co-interns had slowly become some of my close friends. Through activities like hiking, sailing, and white-water rafting, we bonded over climbing rocks, saving a windsurfer, and falling off rafts together. There is probably no better way to get to know someone than to be out in the wild with them — well, unless it’s crying from spicy hot pot soup base with your manager and mentor.
While everyone at DoorDash has been warm, welcoming and encouraging, I specifically want to thank my mentor, Richard, and my manager, Jeff, for the best summer in college so far. Their genuine desires to understand me as a person — not just as an engineer — enabled me to warm up to DoorDash very quickly. I will never forget Richard’s big smile when we finished our hardware hack together (picture below), how tasty Jeff’s homemade burgers are, and the spontaneous Dispatch Happy Hours that are even happier than they sound. I guess you know you’ve had an amazing time when goodbyes are so tough, so thank you so much for making my internship so memorable.