How boba trips and event onsites made me a better engineer (a Briteling intern’s reflection on community at Eventbrite)

Written by 2019 summer Organizer App intern Vivian Phung

Hello World! I’m Vivian Phung, a Computer Science and Mathematics double major at Bryn Mawr College, and for the last few months, an iOS Software Engineering intern on Eventbrite’s Organizer App Team. Some of the best parts of my internship were the communities I had the opportunity to engage withboth at the office and within the broader Eventbrite community. In this blog post, I want to share how engaging with these communities helped me conquer imposter syndrome and get the most out of my summer internship. 

Finding my work community

I have learned so much this summer, not only technically but personally: building relationships, learning from my coworkers, growing my self-confidence, and becoming a part of a strong and caring community. 

On my second day, with imposter syndrome still having the better of me, an impromptu group of Britelings invited me to join them in making and eating hotpot in the office. This was one of the first times I left my imposter syndrome behind and felt like I really belonged. Instead of seeing my coworkers as talented individuals who always knew what they were doing, I got to know them on a personal level as humans just living life and enjoying food. Since that day, the group has made spring rolls in the office as well as eaten Dim Sum and Korean BBQ together. Like going out for Bún bò Huế with family and friends, this group made me feel included and at home. 

As luck would have it, the following day I found my community of women software engineers through the Women in Software Engineering (WiSE) group where I was able to meet, connect with, and learn from admirable women technologists. The WiSE women were so supportive and allowed me to feel welcome in a majority male workplace (as this is the unfortunate reality at many tech companies). Through the meetings I attended a workshop on imposter syndrome, a deep-dive on frontend development, a deep-dive on backend development, and received advice on a career in software engineering. This helped me learn technical skills, understand my imposter syndrome, and meet women in engineering that will be able to support me throughout my career.

Organizer App in the office and on-site

Off-site at a local food event
Off-site at a local food event

During my internship at Eventbrite, my team consisted of five iOS engineers, an Android engineer, a backend engineer, a product manager, a designer, an engineering manager, and an intern (me!). In addition to being a cross-functional team, the team is international: the team is distributed across Mendoza, Nashville, San Francisco, and Sacramento. As an intern, I spent my days picking up Jira tickets (engineering tasks from our project’s dashboard), reviewing code on Phabricator and Github, and participating in agile “ceremonies” (sprint retrospectives, planning, and refinement).

My team built Eventbrite’s Organizer App, which event organizers use on the most important days for their businesseswhile they are running their events. Our app is the interface between event organizers and attendees at the event. 

Eventbrite encourages development teams to go on-site and watch how these tools are used in the wild. So when our team was invited by the organizer of a local iconic food festival to help scan tickets, we were able to see the product we had been working on in action. I was able to see the value of one design decision when I accidentally scanned an attendee’s ticket twice. When the ticket reader errored out on the second scan, I was able to see the scan history and figure out what happened without holding up the line. The chance to experience this for myself really helped me understand why the scan history is such a useful feature for organizers. I love that my teammates prioritize understanding the needs of event organizers, and the opportunity to go on-site with the organizers of this festival helped me understand the real-life impact of the tools we build.

The Baby Briteling squad

Boba with the Baby Britelings
Boba with the Baby Britelings

Throughout my time at Eventbrite, the community I related to the most was my fellow interns (self-named Baby Britelings). We had daily routines of breakfast, lunch, and occasional dinners in and outof the office. I am seriously going to miss my daily ritual of making avocado toast with Sriracha, grabbing a can of Yerba Mate, and enjoying them around friends. What I loved most was the surprise birthday parties with homemade cake, and offsites where we got to roast s’mores around a fire pit, play mini-golf, win foosball tournaments, and eat delicious food from food trucks. 

I love being in a workplace that values socializing, as this also helped me feel at home, and building friendships with my coworkers made it easier to ask questions and collaborate. Although these may seem like distractions from work, I truly believe that boba and croissant runs with my work friends helped me become a better engineer. When I was willing to ask questions when I was blocked (and could not find answers online), I built more features, crushed more bugs, and learned more overall.

Advice for future interns

On my first day, after on-boarding, I ‘git clone’-ed the Organizer App’s repository and looked through the codebase. At first it was really hard getting used to the large codebase, but with patience and lots of questions, I was able to chip away at the imposter syndrome until I felt comfortable. One of the hardest obstacles to overcome is learning to notice your imposter syndrome and let go of it. After talking with more senior engineers I learned that everyone experiences imposter syndrome at some point. It makes sense! It can take time to feel comfortable in a new codebase, gain domain knowledge, and understand the product and its users (in our case, event organizers). My advice to future interns is to take your time, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t give up. When reviewing code, I recommend asking questions when you don’t understand something specific, because you can learn so much from engineers around you. 

Before I became friends with other engineers through everyday socializing, WiSE, and eating with an affinity group, I have to admit I was afraid to ask questions, get to know my coworkers, and even have fun at work. After getting to know these engineers and seeing them as everyday people, I learned that they were all rooting for me and wanted to see me succeed. One more piece of advice to future interns: don’t be afraid to schedule one-on-ones to learn technical content or ask  for career development advice. The worst that can happen is a simple “no” (though I’m happy to report that no one has ever declined my request). And if your workplace has a group that sounds interesting to you, join it! You never know what you might learn on your way to the boba shop.

Eventbrite 2019 summer interns
Eventbrite 2019 summer interns

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