#TeamWP: Meet Recent Grad Ali – Software Developer

 

After a successful 2016 summer internship, Ali is back with us as a full-time Software Developer with our Coresite Team! Ali is a recent grad from the University of Washington, with a degree in Informatics. Aside from doing full-stack work helping push out cool new features and bug fixes to the site, Ali has been instrumental in our recruiting events, Hackday 2017, and our Carepages affinity group. Read on to learn about Ali’s favorite things, how her new role “still feels like an internship,” and what working at Whitepages means to her.


Where do you consider your hometown to be?
Knoxville, TN

What’s the last TV show you binge-watched?
Orange is the New Black

What’s the last vacation you went on?
A month-long trip around Europe

What would your role be if there was a zombie apocalypse?
Buzzfeed told me I’d be a doctor

What’s your favorite lunch spot?
Anything poke related

What’s been the most influential piece of technology in your life so far?
My Garmin runner’s watch

What’s your favorite meme?
Anything with Grumpy Cat

Why did you choose to work for Whitepages?
Despite being comprised of small teams, Whitepages creates a big impact on its consumers. I like that Whitepages is a company that really values our consumers and that we are all able to contribute to and improve the user experience

How has the transition been from student to joining the workforce?
It still kind of feels like it’s a summer internship without a definitive end date

What are some of your day-to-day tasks you do that people may not know about?
Collaborating across teams to make sure that the changes we are making are in the best interest of all

When you’re not working at your desk, where are you in the office?
Somewhere that I can look out the window while I am thinking

What’s your go-to snack in the kitchen?
Carrots and hummus

What does being a Whitepager mean to you?
Being a Whitepager means being a part of a close-knit, hard-working team that values everyone’s input and collectively makes the business better every day

Choose one of the Whitepages values and describe how you see it at work on your team?
(Serve, Own It, Lead, Invent, Do)
Own it: Though Coresite may be the “free” part of Whitepages there are a lot of parts that we have to keep track of to keep the revenue streams at their max

Look for our Recruiting Team later this month at the University of Washington Career Fair (Oct 24)!

Want to work with Ali and the rest of the Whitepages team?

View our current job openings

Whitepages Hackday 2017

 

What is Hackday?

Our Hackday consisted of 24 hours of non-stop hacking. From September 7-8 Whitepagers joined together to create something and have fun: No boundaries, no themes, just brilliance. Varun, a Principal Architect at Whitepages, led the charge along with Software Developer Ali and our Office and Facilities Manager Lauren, to challenge fellow Whitepagers to bring their best ideas to the table. Read on to hear Varun’s story.


Just five weeks ago we decided to go for it: Hackday. After a few years on hiatus, it was time: A day to get inspired, a day to code, and a day to create. We hoped to encourage synergy between business units and give employees time to step back from day-to-day projects. A day to themselves. A day to build. The day turned out to be that and so much more.

Motivation is key to start the ideas flowing, so we created t-shirts, themes, and posters to kick off the Hackday excitement. Three judges would determine winners in the categories of Best Hack, Best Team Name, Most Diverse Team (to encourage interdepartmental collaboration), and there was also a People’s Choice Award for the entire company to vote. Enticing prizes and trophies further notched up the motivation levels.

Eleven teams registered for the event, with participants not only from our Engineering team, but also Sales, Human Resources, and Legal, among other departments. The hacks spanned across product ideas, product improvements and tools for in-house efficiency and cost savings. A Hackday in 2017 would not be complete without a fancy gadget hack; yes, we even had a team from our Budapest office working hard on a super cool virtual reality (VR) hack while other teams in Seattle flaunted their skills using Amazon Echo’s “Alexa”.

After an exhilarating 24 hours, selected teams had six minutes each to present their hack, followed by a Q&A by the judges. The three judges would determine the winners based on the following:

  • Business Impact
  • Fun Factor
  • Innovation
  • Technical Difficulty
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Demo/Working Prototype/Revenue Sheets

They had such a hard time deciding the Best Hack that the office cheered for a TIE: “The BelltownBoyz” had that perfect mix of super cool and very useful, creating a game and a search box that can search across all Whitepages product offerings, while “The New Cartographers” won the judges’ hearts and presented a money-saving option using map data. Best Team Name went to “OK Cupid?”, the Most Diverse Team was “Poizon,” (representing FOUR business units), and finally, the audience got to choose their favorite hack – with a whopping 81 votes “The Million Dollar Batch” featuring members from Whitepages Pro, bagged the People’s Choice Award for their Excel-based batch testing user interface.

Here is an amazing video by our own IT Engineer, Sam, capturing all the fun we had at the 2017 Whitepages Hackday:

A special thank you goes out to the organizers, judges, all the managers who encouraged their employees to participate, and ESPECIALLY to all of the participants who put in a ton of time, energy, and creativity into their projects. We look forward to next year!

Carepages: Dollars for Scholars!

The below account comes from Carepages member, Sabena Diamond, part of our legal team at the Whitepages Seattle headquarters. Read on to learn more about the Whitepages employee-led affinity group and how they support local non-profit organizations.


THE SPIRIT OF THE 12’s & CAREPAGES

One of the best things about working at Whitepages is that they encourage employees to support their local communities and give back to causes they care about. For as long as I’ve been at Whitepages, I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the group called CAREPAGES, an employee-led affinity group whose goal is, at least once a quarter, to help create and support happy, healthy communities. Sometimes these opportunities involve the entire company and sometimes just a small group. Among the multiple organizations we’ve supported in the past two years are the YWCA, Childhaven, Youthcare, Treehouse, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Northwest Harvest, and the NWH Cherry Street Food Bank.

We recently had the opportunity to support the Rainier Scholars in “The Spirit of the 12’s” Program. This is a program where the Seattle Seahawks select five Pacific Northwest youth service organizations each year to partner with The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Volunteers sell Gameday programs at every Seahawks home game with 100% of the proceeds going to the selected organization. The Paul Allen Foundation then matches the amount that is raised.

About 15 Whitepagers volunteered to work the pre-season opening game versus the Minnesota Vikings. Our goal was to sell as many Gameday programs as possible, at $5 apiece. Wearing our comfortable shoes, our Seahawks gear, and matching lime-colored shirts, we arrived three hours before game time to be trained and then set out to staff a sales booth.  Armed with our wits and best sales slogans (like “Dollars for scholars!” and “Help send a kid to college!”), we shouted, cajoled, and wheeled-and-dealed our way into helping Rainier Scholars break the sales record for pre-season game sales! Our Carepages team along with about 50 other volunteers sold $30,000 in programs, which will be matched by the Paul Allen Foundation for a total of $60,000.

We finished and cleaned up just prior to halftime and had the opportunity to watch the Seahawks finish off the Vikings in the second half, winning 20-13. Go Hawks!!!

And the best part? We were especially thrilled to be helping Rainier Scholars as we were fortunate enough to have one of our summer interns, Mimy, a current Rainier Scholar, lead our band of volunteers. Talk about bringing it close to home.

For more information on the Rainier Scholars Program, please visit: https://www.rainierscholars.org/

Learn more about The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Spirit of the 12.

#TeamWP: Intern Edition – Meet Our Engineers!

Whitepages has been fortunate to have an exceptional group of interns this year, including three engineers! As the summer season comes to a close, we sadly have to send our budding talents back to school, but we wanted to highlight some of the work they’ve been doing and hear their stories. Below are accounts from our three Engineering Interns: Coresite, Software, and Premium.


Meet Aaron: Coresite Engineering Intern

Aaron will be a junior at the University of Washington this fall, studying Computer Engineering. He also works as a teaching assistant for UW’s introductory Computer Science courses.

As part of the Core Site team at Whitepages, I am working to make the website experience better for Whitepages’ users. Although I have looked at many different tasks during the summer, my biggest focus has been creating tools to help team members understand problems facing the site and how they can be solved. One thing that surprised me was when, on only the fourth day of my internship, I was able to load the public Whitepages site and see a feature that I had implemented – the company is serious about helping its interns make an impact, and in less than a week I was able to experience the entire process from identifying a problem and building a solution to testing, documenting, and releasing the changes.

From the very first time I visited the Whitepages office, I could tell that their efforts to build an excellent company culture had paid off. Through the supportive attitude of my coworkers, I have never stopped feeling like a part of the team. Above all, people at Whitepages are willing to help me learn and improve, even in areas of the business that aren’t strictly related to my job.

If I have learned anything this summer, it has been that the surest way to build a good product is to build a good team, and this is the value of the company that resonates most with me.

From Aaron’s manager, Mike Spiz: “Aaron’s summer internship was all about finding and tracking website anomalies. Aaron spent the first half of his internship fixing [any] errors and significantly reduced our baseline error rate. The second half of his internship involved creating a site health dashboard that leverages many of the analytics tools that we use.”

Meet Chen: Software Engineering Intern

Chen is a rising senior in the Computer Science Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

What I like the most about the internship is that the things you do really matter. As someone that did not have a ton of experience in web development before this internship, I am constantly amazed by the amount of trust and support our team gives me. Gradually, I’ve become more confident in my ability, more eager to learn, and I feel fulfilled with all the work I have done. As of seven weeks into the internship, I have code that is almost ready to ship!

On our recent intern kayaking trip, the front desk staff asked us if we were a young company. When we told him that our company was almost 20 years old, he said, ‘you all look very young’. Looking around at all of my energetic colleagues, I feel that it is pretty amazing how a 20-year-old company still has all the energy to push out new products and trying different things instead of just doing the same thing day after day. I am truly glad that I decided to come to Seattle and join Whitepages this summer.

From Chen’s manager, Mike Spiz: “Chen’s summer internship involved a massive cleanup of the style sheets for Whitepages.com. Over the last two months, Chen has methodically pored over the code for every page on the site and either standardized or eliminated unused styles and HTML. This was a huge project with a lot of impact on the production site. Chen handled all of this very well and we appreciate her efforts.”

Meet Jack: Premium Engineering Intern

Jack is from Phoenix, AZ, but has spent most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. He is an incoming senior at the University of Washington, pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering.

[For] my summer internship, I wanted a job where I would be doing meaningful, difficult work, and I wanted a job where I would be treated like another member of the team. Fortunately, I’ve gotten all that I wanted out of working with Whitepages. In my time here, I’ve worked with three unfamiliar programming languages and many different frameworks. There have been a lot of challenges, but every time I’ve gotten stuck, there’s been someone nearby who is happy to help.

From the moment I got here, I was treated like a full member of the team.  It was a bit of a surprise the first time my team met for our bi-weekly planning meeting and I was encouraged to contribute. I’ve scheduled meetings, set timelines for my projects, and even been consulted on technical issues that I had experience with.

My internship here at Whitepages has been everything I asked for and more.  Sure, it hasn’t always been easy, but the opportunity to learn so much and contribute to a company who treats me with respect has been invaluable, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

From Jack’s manager, Dhass Thirunavukarasu: “Our interns get real life challenges where they must learn our internal business as well as new skills/languages which are immediately applied to their projects. Jack learned our internal systems, new programming languages, and mobile framework. He was able to use these to build existing new mobile experiences and delivering services that will live on as part of our products.”

We at Whitepages have been so lucky to have such talented summer interns as part of our team. Read all about our Internship Program in this previous blog post, and look for more #TeamWP Intern Edition stories!

Interested in joining the Whitepages team?

View our current job openings

#TeamWP: Intern Edition – Meet Treon!

Treon is an incoming junior at Washington State University, working toward a Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems (MIS) and a minor in Economics. His past work includes building the School of Biological Sciences website at WSU and working with Cascadia Consulting Group last summer.

Here is Treon’s story about interning with the Pro Marketing Team:

 

In June, I joined the Whitepages Pro Marketing Team as a Pro Operations intern. My tasks range from taking photos, building icons, and researching prospective contacts for sales outreach. My favorite project has been taking photos for the Whitepages website, including everyday meetings, happy hours, and the office space (see below!). Through this experience, I was able to meet more Whitepagers, including people from other departments and business units.

While working at Whitepages, I’ve gained skills and values that I can use for future jobs. I’ve become more proactive, communicative, and efficient. I also learned to OWN my projects—simply holding myself and others accountable to deliver the highest quality work. Also, my studies in MIS have helped during this internship because I had experience in creating Excel documents and forms.

The most memorable moment of the summer was attempting to solve the puzzle room mystery at a team building event with the Marketing Team. This was my first experience with a puzzle/escape room, and we almost solved it! I had a great time working together to figure out the pieces, and in the process, got to know my team well. My favorite intern event was the scavenger hunt throughout downtown.

I chose Whitepages for my internship because of the people, and because I love analyzing and configuring data to find a solution, which happens to be what Whitepages specializes in. Overall, it has been a valuable experience that has better prepared me for my future career.


Treon joined us, along with fellow intern Mimy, through the Rainier Scholars Program, who we have partnered with for several years to find some of our stellar interns! Check out our previous blog post for more information about this as well as our Summer Intern program.

Treon shared some photos he took around the Seattle office. No doubt this intern has many talents!

Are you interested in joining Whitepages and becoming a member of our world-class team?
View our job openings here!