DoorDash, from an intern’s perspective

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DoorDash, from an intern’s perspective

On my first day, I walked into DoorDash HQ expecting the typical orientation — long talks, heavy technical training, and tons of meetings. And while yes, I did eventually get all of that and more, little did I know I’d be leaving as fast as I had arrived, receiving orders, bouncing from restaurants and delivering to hungry customers.

This is something I admire so much about DoorDash — encouraging employees to dash at least once every month so that we can better understand how we’re impacting dashers, consumers, and merchants. This was the last thing I was expecting to do as an incoming Software Engineering Intern during my orientation, but was surprisingly one of my favorite aspects of the internship because it helped bring us closer to the product.

This is especially relevant to my work, as an intern. From my experience and what my friends have said about the typical software engineering internship, it never feels like interns do significant work that contribute to the overall mission of whichever company they are at. This can be attributed to a number of reasons — the brevity of internships, lack of experience, and the time necessitated to learning and ramping up — all of them totally understandable. However, DoorDash really does it differently, letting you dive right into the core logistical problems the team is solving every day to create a better platform for its customers, dashers and merchants. When I had my first real day of work, I was given three starter tasks right off the bat that allowed me to engineer and work with three related, but separate code bases. DoorDash lets you learn by doing, and I personally love that.

Moving past my assigned starter tasks, I was lucky enough to discuss with my mentor, Gary, about what project I’d work on for the remaining weeks. The degree of freedom that I had experienced in picking something I was interested in working on was incredible, especially as an intern. As far as I could tell, this was somewhat indicative of the full-time experience as well. After determining the pros and cons of each potential project I could work on, I ended up going with a project that was challenging and had high impact on how DoorDash understands and works with its supply and demand issue.

Diving into that final project, I worked on a lot of Machine Learning and integrating that work into the existing system. At the end of the day, I helped contribute to improving dasher messaging, predicting delivery times as well as predicting market demand. During the development process, I had to learn so much, not just from my teammates but also from other sectors of the company. Luckily, the work was highly encompassing and touched so many aspects of the DoorDash code base, forcing me to get in contact with other software engineers I would have never talked to or learn from. And I had to do it myself (alongside my mentor, who’d I pester with questions) — and not necessarily having a source telling me every exact thing I had to do. The degree of independence I had taught me a lot about the importance of being proactive, setting your own goals, and also striving to keep a balance of figuring out things on my own and knowing the right times to reach out for help. In other words, I learned more than just technical things at this company, but also soft skills that help a software engineer succeed in whatever environment they’re in. For me, that’s the biggest takeaway, as all of this is highly transferable to my future career.

To say that my summer flew by is an understatement. with its fast-paced engineering culture and inspirational, high-energy and mission-devoted team,, my time at DoorDash felt almost fleeting. I can truly say there wasn’t a day I wasn’t excited to come to work — leaving is bittersweet, which is something I’ve never felt about a job. Whether it be going to Angel Island for a team offsite, grabbing coffee with someone from a different sector of the company to just learn about what their work is like, or involving myself in the company’s monthly Smash Ultimate tournaments, the people are the primary reason why DoorDash is such an awesome place to be at and why my internship was so fulfilling. I am so sad to leave, but so grateful for what I’ve learned here and the friends I’ve made. Big shout out to my mentor, Gary, my manager, Raghav, and the rest of the Logistics ML and Assignment teams for making this summer one of the best ones yet!

Justin was an intern during the summer of 2019 on the Logistics team. He’s now back at school finishing up his degree in Computer Science. When he’s not engineering something, you can find him dancing in Los Angeles studios or playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate with his friends.
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