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My Yelp Journey from Intern to Full-Time Hire

Hi! This is Gülsüm and I am originally from Turkey. My journey with Yelp started as an engineering intern during the summer of 2017 on Yelp’s Multi-location Business team, and I re-joined as a full-time engineer in July 2018 after I completed my undergraduate studies in Istanbul. My team’s main focus is to develop new features for our clients with multiple locations and maintain the systems that support their needs. For example, we develop a reporting tool that helps our clients with multiple locations across the country understand how their businesses are performing!

What Made Me Want to Intern at Yelp Hamburg?

When you intern, it’s always for a set amount of time: you know the exact date you start and exact date you finish. So if you think it doesn’t suit you, you can always try something new afterwards. For me, I had to complete an internship during the summer of 2017 as part of my studies. Already having a few experiences under my belt in my home country, and knowing that internships are only temporary, I was emboldened to be brave and go abroad. If I had jumped into a full-time position right away, it may have been harder to make the decision to join Yelp. Committing to one summer allowed me the flexibility I needed.  

While looking online at different possibilities, I found a job listing for Yelp. Until that moment, I didn’t even know Yelp had an engineering office in Europe! Reading through, I felt the position checked all the boxes that were important to me in a company: well-known product, a seemingly fun work environment, and a great engineering culture. So I decided to take my chances and apply!

Before starting at Yelp, I had a soft spot for the product because of its brand recognition. After joining, that soft spot  evolved into trust, and now I can proudly say, “Hey, I built this with awesome people!”.

Fortunately, Hamburg also seemed pretty cool! I’d never been to Germany before my internship and didn’t know much about the culture, aside from some German lessons I took in high school. It was an interesting challenge to take and I’m glad I did it.

The First Week and the Rest

My first week was full of challenges; I felt like I was in the wilderness trying to survive. But Yelp had me covered with the greatest mentor and coworkers! 

I metso many people on my first day (it’s okay if you end up forgetting most of their names at first), including the interns who started on the same day as me!

I attended some interesting events during the first week, like a new hire lunch with my team where I got to know my team members better. I also attended a developer bootstrap to set up my dev environment and had a couple of meetings with my mentor to discuss my expectations, potential projects, and many other things.

After ramping up and getting used to the workflow and the team, I faced different challenges such as understanding the responsibility of team, how the business works, ownership of other teams and last but not least who to ask for help when something is wrong. My responsibilities and contributions to the team were basically the same as a full-time employee, just with a bit more guidance and help in the beginning. It’s a very personalized experience for each person, shaped by their time here. For instance, there were two other interns on my team and we all had totally different projects based on our interests.

I also had a chance to get a taste of various areas of the business and development, and realized that it’s not just about your technical skills are improving over time, but also your soft skills such as communication, ownership, and even leadership. 

In the beginning, communication wasn’t my strongest suit. However, after my internship, I became much more confident and learned how to successfully convey information to colleagues and across other teams, simply because I had to move forward with my project! Sometimes I had to work with engineers from the San Francisco office, where the time difference was a challenge. By the time my San Francisco colleagues start working, we’re usually done for the day in Hamburg, so I had to find the most efficient way to communicate and make sure there was no ambiguity in what I was trying to get across. It was hard at first, but towards the end of my internship I became much more confident about having technical discussions, even in an asynchronous manner — which is definitely a rare opportunity to have during an internship.

What Made Me Want to Come Back?

In terms of work, I had a lot of fun and took pride in what I did. To summarize my three months…

  • Built a new marketing page from scratch.
  • Spent some time debugging and understanding a very interesting problem where we loaded several reviews that entailed technical discussions with people from different teams.
  • Worked on a project where we expanded the scope of a tool we provide to our customers so that it’s now available for more people! 

As an intern, I got to touch on so many different areas and felt like I was making an important contribution. This made me want to come back as a full-time engineer once I graduated. Apart from the work itself, the environment has always been welcoming at Yelp. I enjoyed my time at the office and got to participate in a lot of fun events!  We had a summer offsite where we went treasure hunting in a forest north of Hamburg, and had a great time together as a whole office — not to mention the tasty food! There was always something to enjoy that made me motivated to go to work every morning. So it was an easy decision in terms of Yelp’s workplace. 

In terms of the place I’d live, Hamburg is a clean city with a lot to offer. For those who like to go out, love nature, or just like to chill, Hamburg has something for you. For example, Hamburg is full of beautiful nature. In the summer, you can do water activities like sailing and paddling, and in the winter you can do anything from ice skating to discovering lesser known parts of the city. It has very lively neighborhoods as well as very quaint ones. It’s also an  international city and I’ve been finding my way around easily with my rudimentary German. 

To sum it up, I had a five-star internship at Yelp and now I have a five-star career!