My Redfin Internship: Mike Ma

Engineering at Redfin

My Redfin Internship: Mike Ma


I wrote this blog on the last day of my summer internship at Redfin. Though I don’t want to, but have to say goodbye, I’ll never forget my amazing experience here, not only because of the open, unique environment of Redfin, and all the friendly faces, but also the great product I shipped and tremendous technical skills I gained.

Over the summer, I worked on a project pertaining to search experience, by recognizing out-of-service regions in the search results. While Redfin is still working on expanding its service to a few more places in the United States, it would be a huge gain in user experience if Redfin can recognize out-of-service regions and offer users to sign up for those regions, instead of pretending they do not exist in our database.

The project was a full-stack one, a perfect match with my skill sets, with a good blend between front and back end components. While I took advantage of my strength in backend coding, I was also exposed to lots of latest front-end technologies such as ES6 and React. Moreover, I had an excellent opportunity to work on Apache Solr, an open-source autocomplete engine. I was really surprised by the amount of ownership I had on this project. I had almost full autonomy from technical design, data structure to full implementation, with of course appropriate and timely help when I asked for.

The Redfin internship experience also uniquely includes an annual summer Hackathon event, where all developers gather together in Seattle headquarter to pursue exciting new ideas of their choice. I took this opportunity to explore Apache Kafka, an open-source distributed messaging system to streamline our data import process. It was just amazing and unbelievable to jump into a newly formed team with unfamiliar faces, start cooperating and coding right away.

In terms of culture and environment, Redfin is open and friendly. I definitely enjoyed a great team experience throughout my internship. Everyone just can’t wait to help you when you step in as a new intern. A friendly smile or a simple question like “Hey, got a minute?” could be the start of a conversation. As an intern, I had plenty of opportunities to meet with Redfin’s executives and managers, including our CEO Glenn, and CTO Bridget, gained many insights about Redfin’s strategies and received a lot of valuable career advice.

Of course, I came here with high expectation to gain more technical experience, meet some nice people and make a real, positive impact on Redfin. Now, I feel that I completed all the goals I set, even overachieved some. Overall, I believe the current size of Redfin makes it a great environment for software developers to learn and grow. It is small enough for each individual to contribute directly to the overall performance of the company, and make an impact on the industry, but also big enough to have a thorough set of training to prepare newcomers for boarding, and a rigorous development process covering every aspect like planning, coding, documentation, code review and testing.

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