My Engineering Internship Experience at DoorDash
Walking into the cafeteria on my first day, I could not help but notice five words written on big colorful boards: humble, thoughtful, bold, optimistic, and relentless. These represented the company’s values and I have to admit the first time I read them, I was confused. Of course, I knew what the words meant individually, but put together they almost seemed contradictory. After all, how could someone be both thoughtful and relentless? Or be both humble and bold? As a software engineering intern on the Dispatch team, I witnessed how people at DoorDash lived these values and how seemingly opposing values could exist in a single organization.
My main project this summer was to train a model to detect high-variance routes for use in assignment decision making which can help prevent bad batching and reduce unnecessary customer waiting time. After a couple of weeks, the performance of my model had still not improved above the baseline. Sensing my frustration, Raghav Ramesh, my mentor, told me that 9 out of 10 experiments we ran turned out to be worse than the current implementation. But while the experiments failed to make it to the product, they succeeded in helping us gain a better understanding of our marketplace and build confidence towards the next experiment that could push our product forward. So I persisted and learned the importance of iterating and “failing” quickly.
Another initiative I worked on was a new internal package to help data scientists train and evaluate models. Yixin Tang, the ML engineer who designed and led this project, recognized the shortcomings of the existing package we used and instead of hacking together a workaround for himself, architected a completely different system that could improve the productivity and flexibility for anyone who trained models at the company. This was quite a daunting task as it required all models (and there are a lot of them) to be migrated to this new pipeline. But when the product was nearing completion and Yixin was complimented on its design, he quickly stated that the credit belonged to all the individuals who gave feedback and contributed throughout the development. This quickness to share credit is a characteristic that I believe stems from the mutual respect each person has for one another. Everyone is incredibly smart but also acutely aware of the strengths of others. This awareness helps everyone, myself included, feel appreciated, learn and grow together.
Humble, thoughtful, bold, optimistic, relentless. These are the values that all DoorDash people possess but certainly each individual is beyond what these 5 words can summarize. I can’t adequately express how grateful I am for having the opportunity to intern at DoorDash and to learn from the amazing people on the Dispatch team. It’s been an amazing summer and I am excited about what’s to come!
A special thanks to my mentor, Raghav Ramesh, and the Dispatch team for an amazing summer.