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My Delightful Summer Interning at DoorDash HQ

November 14, 2016


Danielle Penny

This summer I was ecstatic to work as a software engineer intern at DoorDash. It was an incredible, intense summer — I learned a remarkable amount about software engineering that no textbook could have taught me. I also discovered the work culture that I work best in, what makes technology startups like DoorDash thrive, and what it’s like to work in the Silicon Valley hustle and bustle.

Some background: I’m a senior at MIT majoring in computer science. I found DoorDash through a career fair, and was intrigued by its take on using technology to empower restaurants, particularly small businesses. Once I discovered DoorDash I fell hard and quickly — I knew my summer was destined to be spent in San Francisco.

My first interview was with my ‘would be’ manager, and I loved hearing how excited she was about the engineering projects she spearheads and the ownership she feels at DoorDash. Throughout the interview process I remember thinking:

  1. These people are all so smart
  2. They really are passionate and love DoorDash
  3. They were genuinely curious about my interests

I was thrilled to receive an offer and happily accepted. After mentioning that I was interested in working on the merchant-facing side of DoorDash during my interviews, I was placed on the Merchant Team.

My love for the internship had two main parts: the team and the work.

The team: Respect each other, learn from each other, and get to know each other.

DoorDash really sees itself as a family and I was fortunate to have felt a part of many teams (or families) this summer — the merchant team, the interns, engineering, and DoorDash as a whole.

During my summer with DoorDash, we went on a team retreat to Lake Tahoe. This was a great chance to dive into a product and get to know my team members outside of the office. The goal was to launch a big project by the end of the week, so there were some late nights spent strategizing, complimented by many fun festivities, including hiking, card games, and delicious dinners.

Throughout my internship I was impressed with the respect shown at DoorDash. On each project I worked on, I noticed that everyone’s voices, including mine, were heard and valued. With the foundation of respect and appreciation for your team members set, it becomes much easier to work well together to create great products. Shoutout to my amazing managers, who were always there to help me learn, answer questions about life and DoorDash, and gave me meaningful work.

There are many facets to the company — the three sides of the product (consumer, Dasher, and merchant), engineering, sales, bizops, and more. For DoorDash to succeed there needs to be dedicated teamwork across all channels, and DoorDash consistently showed that. People never hesitate to admit when mistakes were made, and teams are constantly collaborating and providing support. After engineering outages, teams send out a post-mortem to describe what caused the issue and what they’re doing to fix it (in the short and long term). No task was ever too big or too small, and people are always in it together. There isn’t a sense of hierarchy in the company and everyone seems highly accessible. During the interns’ first few weeks our CEO Tony, and several other executives reached out to us to have lunch. Later on when I wanted to collect more wisdom, I just slacked them again and they happily made time for me to chat!

The work: ‘Hacker mentality with a focus on quality. Move fast, with grace.’

Every day our team was ‘executing’ (our PM’s favorite word). The team moves fast, and people are constantly releasing products and features! DoorDash is built off of the desire to always be bettering the product, pushing yourself to create something great, and settling for no less. Because DoorDash is a relatively new company and because we move so quickly, we’re constantly learning. We’re always connecting with our customers, Dashers, and merchants to see how we can better fit their needs. I really came to respect how much the user experience is put first.

While working on these projects, I was proud of my work and felt complete ownership on several projects that I worked on independently. Though, I always had the help and support of my manager and team when I had questions. For example, I created the homepage for our merchants, implemented a new type of promo code that used a percent off feature, and created the deals page for the website. It’s really exciting that these projects I worked on are now being used by people every day and that I was able to work on more than just a button or an optimization.

Because of DoorDash’s philosophy to empower engineers to drive the company’s vision, we all get to take ownership of projects. And because people are so smart, it’s amazing to see what things people are able to create! It was sometimes intimidating being surrounded by people with more knowledge and experience than me, while being given a lot of responsibility — but that allowed me to grow so much more than if I was just left to the side and given an easy trivial ‘intern-type’ task.

My summer at DoorDash was one that I’ll never forget, and I’m so lucky to have been part of such an amazing team and company. I learned that loving what you do, loving the product, and loving your team are key to a happy, successful career. To anyone considering applying for an internship (or full time) at DoorDash, I say DO IT. You’ll be challenged, you’ll learn SO much, you’ll be a part of a fun, close knit, crazy-smart group of people, and you’ll gain an experience you couldn’t find anywhere else.

P.S. I’m very excited to share that I’ll be returning to DoorDash to work full-time! This offer was even more exciting than the internship offer, and I cannot wait to come back to such an amazing team. After interviewing at some other companies, it was clear that DoorDash’s people, mission, and stage in growth could not be beat.

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