Internship at ShopGun
The ins and outs of the experience
If you’re not familiar with who ShopGun are, they’re a startup company based in Copenhagen, Denmark. There primary product is a shopping planner app that saves people money by offering catalog deals, in the attempt to makes their everyday lives easier.
So why did I decide to temporally move to Copenhagen to work for ShopGun? For me, the main motivation was to try and do something I’d never done before. Essentially put myself outside of my comfort zone, and I don’t believe there’s any better way of doing this than moving to a foreign country.
The First Night
I had never visited Copenhagen prior to this, heck I have never been anywhere in Scandinavia for that matter, so I had no idea what was going to be in store for me. After unpacking and settling down in my home to be, for the next three months, I ventured out with my Father and Martin (an Engineer at ShopGun) to Warpigs, located in the meat packing district of Copenhagen.
At Warpigs we was greeted by Morten (CTO & Co founder of ShopGun) and Jeppe (another Engineer at ShopGun). Before I knew it, the first round of drink were on the way.
Now, the drinks on offer at Warpigs can be explained as a strange concoction of ingredients brewed into an ale, One could think of this as the, “Willy Wonka Beer Factory”.
The first round was coffee and nitrogen beer, which seemed to be a reoccuring theme of drink through out our stay at Warpigs. After ordering dinner at warpigs, many more beers and conversations leading to inappropriate puns about beef jerky (which I’ll leave to the creative imagination), we moved on to another bar…
maybe a poor choice of name, but nether the less a memorable one. I don’t think our stay at, “Skank” was particularly long, but who can say at this point in the night, it seemed that Warpigs was starting to have an effect on me.
This is the point where the story is now pretty hard to tell, as I struggle to recall much more, and I can only push the blame to Warpigs.
Undoubtedly the next moring the evidence of the night still lingered, messy? Yes! But a proper introduction to Copenhagen and ShopGun.
My Time at ShopGun
After a weekend of recovering from my ‘introduction’, it was time to start work for ShopGun.
During my time at ShopGun I worked along side the engineering team on the backend for ShopGun. My focus was on the GraphQL library, making various changes to that and also developing a dataloader in Erlang, simular to what Facebook has.
So what is GraphQL, GraphQL is a query language, where the client is able to tell a server what it wants in a declarative way. The server will then process a response based on what the client requested in their query.
My first task was to get enums to work like scalars within GraphQL, this was a nice task to get started on as it allowed me to understand how GraphQL actually worked and gave me a very big insight into compiler theory which I’d never touch on before. I seemed to pick this up rather quickly and in no time at all, my frist pull request on Github was ready for ShopGun.
My next task was to build a dataloader application for ShopGun. This is where I spent a good bulk of my time working. The dataloader was an open source project which is great as I can directly show people what I did with my time at ShopGun.
But what does the dataloader do and how does it affect the users of ShopGun? The dataloader application allows objects from a GraphQL query to be batched up and then have a database lookup the corresponding values for each ID within that object. Put basically it looks up the values needed to build the final response for the clients query. This pairs up perfectly with parallel queries in GraphQL, allowing for thousands of clients to ask for individual queries and get a responses back from the server with an almost instantaneous feel to it.
Working on these projects for ShopGun, I would say, I gained more knowledge compared to what university taught me in a year.
I couldn’t have had a more welcoming team to work with, although they had their own work to do, they was always interested in pointing me in a specific direction and helping me when it was needed.
My time with ShopGun wasn’t just work though, I found that the company ethic seemed to be that ,“happy employees equals happy customers”, and on that ShopGun hosted a variety of events for it’s employees. Such as its, “Infamous” Friday bars and a trip to Jutland, Klitmøller.
Fridays bars were hosted on the first Friday of every month. The typical plan usally involved going out for a meal in Copenhagen followed by drinks.
On my first Friday bar, we went to a burger restraunt called, Cock’s & Cows. For me, a guy with a huge appetite, this was the perfect restaurant with many of the burgers nearly as big as my head. When ordering I didn’t really get a say in what I got, People insisted on me getting the governator with extra cheese and bacon, of course.
I had a suspicion that my fellow colleges didn’t think I would finish the governor and a portion of chips, but I recon I broke some sort of record in the speed I finished that burger.
The following Friday bar we went to a bar located alongside one of Copenhagen's canals, Canoe Bar. The method of serving food here maybe considered eccentric. As we sat around the table, aprons were issued to us (this is typically when you know things are going to get messy). After suiting up with our new fashion accessory, the waiter took a large tray of sea food dumped the contents on to the table. With no plates or cutlery we feasted on a mountain of seafood. Very enjoyable, no doubt. Plus something I had never experienced before.
As I mentioned earlier we also took a trip to Klitmøller. This was a great event for everone at the company to get to know each other a bit better and also the whole range of activities lined up for us made for a good experience.
For those who aren’t familiar with Klitmøller, It is also known as “cold Hawaii”, and for a very good reason, it’s a great place to surf. So thats exactly what we did there. During our stay at Klitmøller we also visited Thy National Park.
This small article is only scratching the surface of my time at ShopGun, I just chose some of the best moments and share them with you.
My time at ShopGun has been a blast, I’ve meet nothing but great people and I don’t think I could have spent my summer working for a better company. The knowledge and memories I can take away from this experience will last a life time.
And on that bomb shell. Thank you, to everyone at ShopGun.