Who are you and what were your expectations going into this internship?
Jess: I spent the last 7 years working in digital marketing, delivering campaigns for large enterprise clients. I started learning to code in my spare time and then at the end of 2020 decided to enrol in the General Assembly bootcamp, taking a 12 week fully immersive software engineering course. Going into my first commercial development role was exciting, scary and intimidating all at the same time. I was placed in the growth tribe, in Haricots, a team dedicated to providing best-in-class customer care.
Anna: This was my first internship after my first year of studying computer science at Cambridge. I was working with the peas, in the supply tribe. I didn’t know what to expect, especially given I was working remotely. I mean, if you’re not in the office, who can you fetch the coffee for?
Tom: I spent my internship with the Android Growth team. Prior to this, I finished my 2nd year at Cardiff University studying Software Engineering — where I gained some experience with writing apps, but definitely none to this scale!
Zimeng: Having finished my second year at Edinburgh University studying computer science and artificial intelligence, I spent my summer interning with the Turnips team in the menu tribe. Having only written software on my own or for a small team of people at university, I didn’t know what to expect when joining Gousto as a software engineering intern.
How was onboarding for you? What was the first thing you worked on?
Jess: After the last two years I was fairly well adjusted to working remotely, but I was slightly concerned about how this would work as a junior, starting a new company, in a new profession. We were encouraged to join all of the social slack channels and got invited to an all hands on meeting in the office and an awesome summer party. In addition, we got a chance to chat with other junior engineers at Gousto, they openly shared their experiences both good and bad which helped calm a lot of the nerves I had coming into the company.
Ironically the first thing I worked on was developing a maintenance page. I paired with my manager and within a week I had some code I’d written deployed to production which was a huge accomplishment and something I could tick off my internship bucket list.
Anna: I remember having the CEO breakfast with Timo and the other new joiners from the past month. I thought it was wonderful being able to ask any questions, and it felt like a very warm welcome.
My first ticket was working on a button for a web interface to track orders. However, this was a rather atypical ticket for our team which is pretty much all back end! I paired with the different team members and was able to watch their different working styles. When it was finished, I got to merge the branch into develop, it felt like a big achievement!
Tom: Onboarding was a super interesting experience. My tech buddies helped me get everything setup fast with my newly received laptop and some fresh Gousto apparel. With this being my first week in the workplace, I had no idea on what to expect. I remember being introduced to this massive codebase and no idea what any of this meant. I was first tasked with a small ticket of updating the recipe amount on one of the sign up screens. I remember being very happy when a week later I saw that change appear on my phone! It was also great to have meetings with all the different teams and see all the different aspects of the business and the effort that goes in behind the scenes to deliver a food box to your door.
Zimeng: There was a lot to take in during onboarding. Given I was in the Turnips team, who are responsible for improving customer product experiences (by for example providing recipe recommendations), the team consisted of a fusion of different people, such as frontend and backend engineers, as well as data scientists. I spent the first few weeks pair programming with my assigned buddies, as well as talking to the data scientists to learn what they were doing.
What have you been working on?
Jess: Haricots are responsible for delivering best-in-class customer care, we do this by providing customers with tools and resources to resolve any questions or issues with the least amount of friction. The team has built a self-service flow that automates a lot of low level repetitive issues. Guided by data, as a team we have been making incremental improvements to these flows, improving the UI, experience and how customers can claim credits based on severity of issue.
Anna: The Peas have been working on a service that makes an advanced routing decision by looking at the orders. This will help make the forecasting more accurate. We began with a package that the data scientists created that made the factory decision. Our job was to tidy it up for software engineering needs. Now, we’ve moved on to building an Amazon ECS task to route the orders periodically. I’ve got to watch this repository be built from scratch, and listen to discussions about how we want it to work
Tom: In the Android Growth team we have been busy working on a range of new features to the existing Android app. Examples of these include redesigning the subscription screen, implementing a new password security improvement and allowing customers to order new recipe cards. During the other half of my time, I have been working on a project redesigning the cookbook screen. This project has been really fun for me, as it allowed me to introduce a brand new UI toolkit called Jetpack Compose to the application and has given me something to look back on and feel proud of. This project is currently being productionised and will be available in Android 3.7 🥳
Zimeng: When I joined in June our team started to work on a project called Taste Profile, which was a mini-game early Gousto users were asked to play, where they chose between 2 different recipes to see which one they liked the most. This was used to collect user data to improve our personalised recommendations for them. This was a really cool project to be a part of as it highlighted the importance of teamwork and having a good development workflow. For the internship I also focused on a personal project, where I created an algorithm that could find similar recipes to a chosen recipe, and made an MVP front and backend on top of the Gousto cookbook to showcase this functionality. Given the short duration of my internship, I’m proud of what I accomplished through the project, and with the team helping me at every step of the way, I’ve learned so much about data science as well as the front and backend.
Now, looking back, what were the highlights?
Jess: For me, the highlights have been pairing and working on real problems that add real value to customers. I got to pair with senior engineers who I could discuss abstract concepts with, which you don’t get to do everyday. The other highlight was having the opportunity to be able to contribute to the team by pulling tickets into our sprint and delivering them alongside the wider team, this gave me first hand insight into how developers work at Gousto. As a result, I also gained experience of deployment, working in an agile way and what it’s like to be a developer at Gousto.
Anna: The Peas domain is so big. There are many more repositories that I haven’t looked into. It’s like magic when someone is making a change to an older piece of code and pulls out of their hat the line of code we need to copy or a PR to fix some incident that has occurred. I have some insight now into this particular section but it’s just one piece in a massive system. Looking at the scale of information in the readmes and wikis, it feels really rewarding.
Tom: My personal highlights have been using the app on my phone and noticing the new features my team has worked on. It’s a great feeling to see the impact we have on me and so many other customers around the UK.
Zimeng: One of the main highlights of this internship was getting to know and work with people in the Turnips team, as I’ve learnt so much from them. Given this was my first internship, learning about the way Gousto functions and operates has been an invaluable experience.
Honorary mention — the free food, fruit and ice cream inside the office is great 😆
And what was the biggest challenge or learning opportunity?
Jess: For me the biggest challenge was trying to get my head around Gousto’s architecture, how the different domains interact with each other. I also hadn’t had a huge amount of exposure to testing, something which now is a focus for me.
Anna: I was rather good at locking myself out of things, both digitally (forgetting my passwords) and in real life (getting trapped in a corridor on my first time in the office). After my first merge into develop with git, I gained plenty more experience with version control (with one too many when it came to merge conflicts and rebasing struggles). But, having witnessed some slightly larger incidents within the team, such as the one that cost $4500. It helps you put into perspective that they’re not disasters, just learning opportunities!
Tom: For me one of the biggest challenges was getting used to writing clean code. Before my code wasn’t the most organised and lacked architecture and testing. With such a large scale application like Gousto’s it is important to maintain structure — but it was a shock trying to learn how to write code correctly.
Zimeng: One of the challenges I faced when working on the project was finding the balance of learning and doing exploration (this was especially true for data science) and spending time to implement things I have already learnt, rather than trying to build something overly complex.
And what now?
Anna: I asked to talk to some of the other new joiners in the supply tribe. Listening to their career stories, I got to listen to what a job in software engineering might be like once I graduate. So I’m really looking forward to what it may hold!
Tom: After finishing this internship, I feel a lot more inspired and more certain on the career I want to have. It’s been great to give context to what I have been learning at University and to have gained transferable skills for the future.
Zimeng: Having finished the internship, I’m currently going into my 3rd year as an exchange student at the University of Pennsylvania. Having learnt a lot about recommender systems and how they are used at Gousto, this could potentially be something I could look into for my bachelor’s thesis.