As part of the Q&A with Pinterns series, Pinterest interns share their experiences working on projects and features with our engineers. Here, 2014 Summer Pinterns Lucas and Nicole talk about what they’ve learned and built over the past few months.
What did you focus on this summer?
Nicole: As an intern on the Growth team I worked on acquisition and activation, my projects focused on increasing signups as well as app installs. I created an app install banner on logout, implemented a full redesign of the pinterest.com unauthenticated landing page, and worked on a more streamlined signup flow throughout the rest of the unauth pages.
Lucas: During my internship at Pinterest, my work was mostly focused on our international growth. My first project was to create a brand-new admin system for Pinterest’s community managers to curate and contact some of our influential Pinners (Pinfluencers). This effort allowed our team to easily whitelist Pinners from different countries and I could then use those lists with curated Pinfluencers metadata to algorithmically recommend local Pinfluencer accounts to Pinners with similar interests. Those Pinfluencers are now featured in three areas of the website: NUX, categories pages and in a homefeed carousel. This last one was one of my favorite projects, since I got to work on it all the way from selecting the Pinfluencers on our backend to implementing the design and making it responsive.
Describe the team you worked with. What is the culture like at Pinterest?
Nicole: I worked on the Growth team where I met the most incredible people this summer. It was a diverse team—everyone brought something really unique to the table and as a result I learned even more. My mentor was especially motivating and supportive, giving me the resources to get my work done as well as encouraging me to take more ownership of my projects and come up with new ideas.
I’ve never felt more comfortable and welcomed in a workplace environment as I did at Pinterest, the culture is very collaborative. Everyone I talked to, both on and off of my team was always willing to stop what they were doing to answer a question. Additionally, everyone is authentic and cares so much about the product.
Lucas: This summer I worked concurrently in two teams: Growth and International. I had the privilege of working with talented and passionate people who recognize each other’s skills and use their unique expertises to work together (knit) and make Pinterest a better product everyday.
Besides getting exceptional advice from my mentor, project manager and teammates, I also got help and learned a lot from people in other teams such as Web, Interests, Writing, Design, Recruiting, and others. Pinterest has this amazing culture of knitting to solve challenges as well and fast as possible and this kind of habit not only made me a better and faster developer, but also taught me new skills and more than anything, made me end up making many new friends.
Pinterest feels like family and people know and care about each other. One of my favorite things about Pinterest is how crafty and creative our team is and how much support you get from Pinterest when you have a DIY craving. We have DIY stations in the office and display our crafts all around. This summer, for instance, some Pinterest friends and I decided to make Pinterest a logo made of Rubik’s cubes. Three days later, our Workplace team had already ordered and delivered 60 Rubik’s cubes to us and we now display it all over our office:
What kind of impact did you have?
Nicole: One of the best parts about being on the Growth team is I can see the direct impact of all of my work on the company’s revenue, which is unique as an intern. I saw all the numbers and know how many people downloaded the app because of my upsell, and how many more additional signups we got from the redesign of the signup flow. As much of an impact as I had on Pinterest, without a doubt Pinterest had even more of an impact on me. I was so lucky to work with the people I worked with and learned more than I ever thought I would.
Lucas: It was really validating to see how much impact my work at Pinterest had in other people’s lives. By creating an admin system for Pinfluencer management, for instance, I allowed our community managers to work several times faster and whitelist thousands of Pinfluencers throughout the summer. By working closely with them, I was also able to identify opportunities of improvement to my work and develop or re-tailor features to optimize their work.
On the Pinners side, I was able to run several A/B experiments and try different features and revamps to our product in order to improve Pinner experience. Those experiments were never limited to my main project and my mentor and project manager always gave me the freedom of working on my own ideas for Pinterest and taking ownership of my projects.
What surprised you about this internship?
Nicole: Definitely the biggest surprise for me was how much responsibility I had and how much I was able to grow as a person throughout the internship. I came in expecting to do a lot of cool work but that was pretty much it. I had no idea that I would be so challenged, not only from an engineering perspective but also to take complete ownership of my work and to push myself to accomplish more during my 12 weeks.
Lucas: I was really surprised and delighted to see how much code I developed and how much I learned during my internship. Pinterest challenged me to think critically about problems and develop scalable and maintainable solutions to several projects that I could take ownership of and develop them from the first design until the final product.
What advice do you have for fellow CS students?
Nicole: Work at Pinterest!! Besides that though, when looking for internships I would definitely say to find a place where you can make an impact and work in a challenging environment. In school don’t ever think that something is too difficult or too hard, because that becomes self fulfilling. The most important thing is believing everything you can accomplish and then working hard to get there. Don’t be afraid to fail either, its one of the best ways to learn.
Lucas: When looking for a company to work at, look for a place where you will be challenged to work on interesting and creative problems and that has a culture that makes you happy. I found that at Pinterest and if you think that Pinterest could be that for you too, be sure to apply!