Title: Software Engineer
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Preferred Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Between coding, travel, trivia, reading and baking — we’re not sure where Megan finds the time to study German AND kill it in her day job!
Tell us a little about your role and your team.
I am a Software Engineer on the Financial Engineering Developers (FED) team. We own a number of services, the largest being the Accounting Service (AS). AS is responsible for automating the merchant payment process for inventory sold through Groupon. It also facilitates access to general ledgers for the Accounting, Finance, and Merchant Payments teams. Merchant payment automation requires a significant number of calculations to determine what we owe merchants, based on what kind of contract they have, what tax laws they fall under, how many vouchers they sold, what promotions were involved, among other things. We also communicate with all kinds of other systems within Groupon, from the Orders service to the software that actually sends the money to merchants’ banks. It’s a fascinating system with a lot of complexity.
As a developer, I work primarily on adding new features in Accounting Service to enable projects from the business. That often involves significant analysis to determine how changes will fit into, and affect the intricate logic of our services. Right now, I am focused on the Merchant-level Netting project. Prior to joining the Netting project, I spent my time on operations work for my team- think bug fixes and general improvements to our system and processes. As a lover of puzzles, I really enjoy digging into bugs- it’s so satisfying to find the root cause.
Before getting into things, how has your day-to-day changed in light of Covid-19?
Using the most narrow definition of “work”, things haven’t changed all that much for me day-to-day. I still write about the same amount of code and attend the same number of meetings as I did before Covid-19. Of course, those meetings are all virtual now, so I am looking at a screen more than I used to. I’ve found pair programming is actually easier now, because each developer gets their own screen- as opposed to crowding around one monitor and one keyboard.
My team has always had some remote members, so our standups and weekly retrospectives had previously been made “Zoom-friendly”. More broadly, the way I communicate is different. I am very thankful for tools like Slack and Zoom, as I value staying in touch with my team throughout the day. I consistently opt for a quick video call instead of a string of messages where I can, because it feels closer to the face-to-face chats that were normal in the office. I’ve made an effort to set up 1:1s with my coworkers every few weeks to chat and catch up. It can be fatiguing for every interaction to be task-based, and I’ve found these casual conversations re-energize me a lot.
How are you staying connected with your team as we’re all working remote?
My team is big on having cameras on during meetings. I appreciate seeing my coworkers' faces every day. It gives me motivation to dress up a little too (at least on top!) It’s been entertaining getting a glimpse into where everyone lives. I’ve even had the chance to virtually meet a few of my coworkers’ kids and pets. We do an icebreaker style question every day during stand up as well. Although most of us have worked together for months or years now, it’s a great way to share things unrelated to work.
What project currently excites you the most?
I joined the Merchant-level Netting project a few months ago, and have been thrilled with the challenge and opportunity to grow as a developer. It’s a big change to the way Accounting Service works, so I’ve had the chance to dig in deep to many corners of the code. The project has a very clear and direct business impact, which gives my contributions a lot of visibility. I’ve had the chance to connect with Grouponers from around the globe on various project topics. I’m also excited to be programming with a few FED teammates I haven’t paired with much before.
Why would you recommend a career within your team?
Since my team owns the service responsible for merchant payment automation, the impact of our work on local merchants is very clear. Every project that makes getting payments out the door easier, more clearly, and with new features goes straight to improving the way merchants make money on Groupon. I strongly support Groupon’s mission to support local businesses, and being a part of FED is a great way to know my daily work makes it possible.
The team is also wonderful. I can’t think of a better group of people to have started my career with. Everyone is supportive, friendly, encouraging, and contributes to the team’s sense of humor. All my teammates take the quality of their work seriously and dig into challenges whenever they arise. Each person works hard and takes ownership, which has built a culture of respect for time and work life balance. It’s really a fantastic team!
How have you grown since joining Groupon?
I’m a lot more confident now. I find myself being willing and excited to dive into complex problems, or track down the specific function of a section of our codebase. While a lot of that confidence comes from getting to know our system better, I think pair programming has helped the most. I’ve learned from how my coworkers approach problems, and have equally benefited from their support and suggestions while I lead the way.
I also find that I’m much more sure of myself when it comes to sharing an opinion, and supporting it in discussions. While I’ve always been interested in new roles and challenges, I’m increasingly comfortable jumping in and figuring it out as I go. Groupon’s culture is very pro-learning, and it’s always ok to ask questions. That has undoubtedly been a huge factor in my growing comfort and trust in my ability to work things out as they come.
I’m a big fan of networking and meeting people too- the more Grouponers I meet, the more confident I am in making the next connection.
What is one non-work activity or hobby that you’re into? How did you get into it?
I started fostering cats for a local shelter in October 2020. At this point, I’ve had 20 come through my apartment! I got into it because I wanted to adopt, and the cat I had my eye on was a foster-to-adopt. He didn’t end up being a good fit for me (but my friends adopted him and he has a cat brother now!), but it did teach me that I love fostering. The rest is history! When I got started, I had never lived with a cat before. Now I know how to administer all kinds of meds, and I even assist with giving subcutaneous fluids and doing intake exams at the shelter from time to time. My team has been insanely supportive of my cat lady transformation- thankfully having kittens appear in my Zoom calls all the time is cute. I’m also thankful for the #catpics slack channel, where I can share all kinds of photos of kitten antics.
What was your first job?
I was a day camp counselor at my local rec center for 4 years in high school/early college. I spent my first summer with 5-7 year old campers, and the last three with the leadership camp for 12-14 year olds. It was daunting being only 17 and in charge of a group of kids who were all taller than me! I loved that job. It was exhausting, and so much fun. It taught me a lot about confidence, making decisions, and conflict resolution. That, and how not to laugh out loud at all the ridiculous things the campers would say.
Favorite pre-Covid activity you can’t wait to get back to?
Traveling, mostly. I have travel vouchers for a trip to Spain I’m itching to use, and a lot of family I can’t wait to see. Closer to home, I’m so excited to get back to bar trivia. I had a great team with another Grouponer and our friends- we were finally doing well when everything shut down. Cheese Curds for Dinner will reconvene one day soon!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Try to replace apologies with gratitude. Instead of apologizing for the delay on something, thank others for their patience. When you’re given constructive feedback or a correction, say “thank you” instead of “sorry”. Of course there are times where an apology is the most appropriate response, but this generally helps potentially negative interactions turn positive. It helps show that you are a team player and willing to learn. I find I recall what I learned from those experiences more effectively in the future because they are labeled positively in my head. Apologies automatically put you on the defensive, which leads to an emotional response. People also tend to find it harder to be mad at someone who values their time and feedback.
If you could take your pick of any other job within Groupon, which job would you want?
I think the Editorial team sounds like a really fun place to work. I imagine their meetings and brainstorming sessions are quite goofy and lively!
What do you miss about being in the office?
I miss the random conversations I would have with my coworkers. Someone would bring something up and more and more people would lean or scoot over to join in. I genuinely learned a lot about other cultures, geography, languages, sports, and pop culture from before I was born. I also miss the snacks.
Rapid Fire Questions
I just finished The Queen’s Gambit. It was the best show I’ve seen in a long time, it made me cry happy tears. I’m also loving The Mandalorian and I loved The Crown.
Studying German, sewing, playing Chess, playing beach volleyball, rock climbing, and of course hanging out with cats.
Goods: an air mattress.
Local: Tickets to the Chicago Wine Festival in March (if only I had known how long it would be until the next one)
I can pretty much always eat sushi. Gorilla Sushi in Wicker Park is a go-to, I also love Late Night Thai and Ukai in Lakeview.
People say Anne Hathaway, but I don’t really see it. I appreciate the compliment though!
Podcast (99% Invisible) in the summer, book in the winter. I recently finished Jane Eyre– it is the best book I’ve read in years.
I love to bake! I used to bring treats into the office pretty regularly, but now the cookies get put in the mail for my family members.