Why I Joined Thumbtack as a New Grad Software Engineer

Eric Ortiz — Software Engineer

Prior to joining Thumbtack as a new grad software engineer in July 2021, my background was primarily in data science with a focus on machine learning. I’d graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in data science two months prior, completed an internship on a small team developing a model explainability technique using the activation maps of deep convolutional neural networks, and taught my peers probability and inference as an Undergraduate Student Instructor.

Interviewing @ Thumbtack

The interview process at Thumbtack was nothing short of fantastic in my experience, and, like most things at Thumbtack, it started with the people. When I wondered how I could best prepare for each interview round, my recruiter was always transparent about what I could expect. When I received another offer, the team expedited the process for me. And when I was in each interview, I received only interesting problems that were surprisingly (and pleasantly) relevant to the job I would end up doing. All in all, everyone that I interviewed with was friendly, kind, willing to answer questions, and actually cared about my success.

Current Role

I’m a backend engineer on the Matching team, which is one of the largest engineering teams at Thumbtack and is primarily responsible for the search experience, pro selection, and pro search ranking on the platform. In my role, there’s always something for me to keep busy with to improve the product experience. These responsibilities generally include: scoping, launching, or analyzing experiments, implementing exciting features in new product areas, reviewing my peers’ code, and reporting or acting on bugs and areas for improvement, but my day to day also includes meeting with team members either professionally or socially, attending cross functional team meetings, and so much more.

Why I Joined TT

Ultimately, I joined Thumbtack as a new grad software engineer for 3 main reasons:

  • The People
  • The Flexibility
  • The Opportunity for Personal & Professional Growth

The People

From the first interview I had with my recruiter, Kathy, I could tell that something seemed different–somehow more personable–about Thumbtack. After talking to her, various engineers, a recruiting manager, and a hiring manager, I was able to get a glimpse into what life at Thumbtack was like. My initial impression was that Thumbtack seemed friendly, supportive, exciting, and frankly, fun.

Fast forward a year, and I can happily say that it’s everything I hoped it would be! Since day one, my colleagues have been welcoming and friendly. They are always willing to lend a hand to help me learn new skills and technologies, are excited about the future of the company, make positive impacts on the product and culture, are game to have a good laugh during our biweekly team socials and quarterly offsites, and are just some of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. These traits seem to be shared among everyone at Thumbtack and create an environment that makes it easy to thrive and do your best work because you’re not just developing and honing your own skills, you’re also working on a close team with a shared mission to help make people’s lives easier.

The Flexibility

Another reason I joined Thumbtack was because of the amazing flexibility that has given way to a fantastic work-life balance. I knew from working in my internship during the early months of COVID that I didn’t want a job where I had to dress in formal attire every day or commute to work. When most people have already left for their morning commute, I’m either still in bed getting extra rest or starting to water some of my many plants. When I’m having a slow morning because I’m not feeling 100% mentally or physically, I don’t have to also worry about being late or missing work because our core meetings are scheduled between 9am-3pm PST and Thumbtack trusts my work ethic and gives me the flexibility to structure my own work day. And, when I have a concert to go to, an early dinner planned, or a weekend that’s just calling my name, that same meeting hours block allows me to head out a little early.

Maybe more important than the hours that I choose to work are the days that I don’t. With 20+ paid company holidays, including a week-long company shutdown in both the summer and winter, it’s easy to find a long weekend to recharge and do the things I normally can’t. And with those paid holidays supplemented with unlimited, flexible paid time off (that’s actually flexible), I’ve never had to worry about burning out.

Being able to more or less choose when and how often I work is great, but also getting to choose where I work as part of being in a virtual-first company is like icing on the cake. At Thumbtack, with employees scattered all over North America, those pipe dreams of moving to sunnier, warmer places like Hawaii or San Diego (or almost anywhere in the country!) don’t feel so far-fetched.

The Opportunity for Personal & Professional Growth

When I was looking for a job straight out of college, I wanted somewhere that was big enough to provide me with ample support and mentorship and small enough that I could still make an impact. In yet another area of my wishlist, Thumbtack fit the bill perfectly. I’m frequently surprised by just how many tools we have in place to make development, testing, and experimentation easier. And I’ve been very impressed by how receptive and nimble the leadership team is about continuing to iterate on our progress and search for big wins in new areas.

In the past year at Thumbtack, I’ve gone from a new engineer who was nervous to push minor code changes to production and struggled to learn about his team’s micro-services and code to a more seasoned engineer who has gained confidence in himself, become an expert in some code areas, contributes to team planning processes, handles on-call duties, and works independently to scope and implement changes to deliver on team OKRs. By and large, this progress is thanks to all my talented engineering colleagues who give great advice, share knowledge whenever possible, provide helpful feedback on code reviews and presentations, and have mentored me along the way.

If you’re looking for a company where you can grow your career, make a real impact, work with and learn from some of the smartest people you’ve met, and maintain a healthy work-life balance, consider joining Thumbtack. I did, and I haven’t had a single regret since.

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