My Redfin Internship: Roman Blum

Updated on August 6th, 2019
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I had a completely unique summer at Redfin. I worked on the Notifications team. They are responsible for managing all emails and push notifications sent to customers. In the past year they have been making a big change in moving their email pipeline into the modern streaming setting using Kafka and Samza. These frameworks permit greater scalability and prevent threading issues. For my summer project, I was tasked with completely rebuilding the Home Report email. This is an email that keeps you updating on your home and its neighborhood. It is sent to over 1 million customers a month.

Very early in the summer I sat down with my mentor to talk about the project. He gave me an overarching view of what the Home Report email is, and followed that with what he expected from me this summer. We discussed different design and project planning options. We decided that I would spend some time familiarizing myself with the code base and sketch up a design for an improved process. I think it’s really rare that an intern is given the freedom to work on the explorative and big picture aspect of his/her project. After two weeks I had completed my proposal and scheduled a design meeting with the entire Notifications engineering team. This meeting and the other design reviews that I did not lead this summer were incredible opportunities to watch how a talented engineering team works through and collaborates on problems. I was always impressed by everyone’s ability to quickly digest a design and provide critical and important feedback.

Once I finalized my design I began work on the project itself. I had no prior industry software experience before working at Redfin. Even code reviews and early app bootstrapping were exciting experiences. As I worked on the meatier parts of the project, my teammates were always critical of my code in a way that pushed me to improve. By the end of the summer I was going back and improving earlier code. When I would add small features I always found myself adding and cleaning up the tests I wrote at the beginning of the summer. It was surprising to see the personal growth I had made over 12 weeks.

My initial project fell mostly along the lines of “get it up and running.” However, near the end of the internship I found myself spending almost two weeks refactoring a large portion of some critical business facing code. This was actually one of my favorites parts about working in a large code base. Tackling high level design decisions gave me the feeling my work would last longer and have a positive impact even after I left. It was really encouraging for my teammates to acknowledge there was room for change and along with having the confidence in me that I could do it.

Overall, I was so lucky to have an internship at Redfin this summer. I think they have an incredible internship program that gives interns really worthwhile projects while trying very hard to cater them towards your interests. I can’t wait for my upcoming Home Reports.

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Roman was a Redfin dev intern on the Notifications Team in Seattle.

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