Intern Blog

Learn and Teach: Heavy on the Learn, Please

Clara Oppenheimer is a rising senior studying computer science at Tufts University. In her spare time, she enjoys doing crossword puzzles, going to the beach, and reading.

Blog Post
The AppNexus Team

Two summers ago, I spent many of my lunches as a summer camp counselor helping four-year old children figure out how to properly use a fork to eat pasta. Last summer, I taught 20 high school girls who had never coded before how to make a robot dance and build a website from scratch as a Girls Who Code teaching assistant. This summer, I spend most of my day writing code as a software engineering intern on the Real-Time Platform Auction Logic team at AppNexus. It is by far the quietest job I have ever had, but I have really enjoyed my time here.

One of my favorite aspects of the company is how committed people are to the Learn and Teach value. As someone who has done a lot of teaching in the past, I was excited to focus on learning this summer and finally apply all the information I spent so many hours studying at school. But since this was my first software engineering job, I was also nervous that I would not know enough or have enough relevant experience to succeed. The first time my manager explained my project of shortening callback URLs, I honestly had no clue what he was talking about and did not understand either the context or the technical problems. Luckily, AppNexians really do embody the Learn and Teach value. Everyone I interacted with has been willing to answer questions, explain concepts, and lend a helping hand.

Through a lot of on-boarding classes, questions, and whiteboarding with my manager, I eventually figured out what my project entailed and was able to complete my part by the end of the summer! AppNexus has many callback URLs with various purposes, but my project focused specifically on the ab (accept bid) callback URL. The ab URL has custom macros that buyers can populate with as much information as they would like. Certain buyers heavily utilize this feature, and URLs become extremely long, reaching up to 10,000 characters (about three pages of size 12, single-spaced font!). This becomes a problem because some older browsers have a relatively low character limit for a URL, effectively rendering those long callback URLs useless. As a result, some clients were losing out on significant monthly revenue. To solve this, I added a feature that took all of the information that we previously attached directly to the URL and stored it in a database called Aerospike, that we could query when we needed to access the information again.

AppNexus was a great place for me to go through my first software engineering job, in large part because of the strong emphasis on the Learn and Teach value. Throughout the summer, I learned much more than what I was doing for my project. At AppNexus, employees are encouraged to be constantly learning and sharing their expertise with others. From a tech talk about machine learning in the Razzle Dazzle to a career panel hosted by the AppNexus Women’s Network to a generally positive attitude towards asking questions and making mistakes, the culture of learning and teaching fosters so many opportunities for growth.