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Stash

Get Ready For An Awesome New Career At Stash

Below is an article originally written by Kahne Raja, Lead Engineer at PowerToFly Partner Stash, and published on March 26, 2018. Go to Stash's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

If you love clean code and you want to help disrupt the fintech industry, then look no further!

Recently, we here at Stash have upped our recruitment game. Over the past few months, I've seen the company double with an outstanding crew of new engineers who truly care about what they do and how they do it. We are dealing with scale issues on all fronts and we need your help!

The mission at Stash is clear. Build financial systems that work for everyone — not just the wealthy.

It's a big challenge and we have a long way to go. A big part of that is growing the team with the right people.

As an engineer at Stash myself, I regularly host technical interviews. Here are some of my notes on what it takes to pass our first stage code pairing challenge.

Back to basics.

Interview preparation takes weeks… even months. Do it in batches and do it well. Enjoy the nostalgia. Enjoy the beauty of math.

Your regular tech work life patterns and practices are important but quite often they are not so helpful when doing interviews. Here are some ideas to help you prepare for the engineering interview at Stash:

  • Read Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell.
  • Read Extreme Programming Explained by Kent Beck.
  • Watch as much Uncle Bob talking about SOLID principles as possible.
  • Ask a friend to test you at a whiteboard over lunch.
  • Choose a language and get comfortable with it (without an IDE).

Our first line of code.

When I sit down with you to pair online @coderpad, this is what I am looking for:

  • A focus on data structures and algorithms.
  • At least one passing unit test.
  • A simplification of complex ideas.

I want you to start by slicing off a single conditional in two to three lines of code. Something we can compile, run, test, and discuss.

Example challenge: Leap Year.

Problem statement: write a function that returns true or false depending on whether its input integer is a leap year or not.

If we can get to this place within a few minutes, that is a great start! We should then be able to complete a number of variations within 10 to 20 lines of code.

Try to avoid spending too much time on the following:

  • Web app / CRUD design patterns like Controllers and Repositories.
  • Database structures and persistence strategies.
  • Language comparisons and platform specific features.

Scorecard.

After each interview, I assess candidates on the following metrics. Ability to think on your feet, communication, critical thinking, creative problem-solving, debugging, speed, management of competing priorities, organizational skills, and test driven.

Following this initial online code pairing session, you'll be invited in for a half day session with a number of colleagues.

At Stash, extreme programming and solid principles are at the heart of what we do. We move fast and embrace change.

Please don't hesitate to hit me up on twitter — @kahneraja. I'm always happy to help a candidate get ready for an awesome new career at Stash.

Casper

Meet Casper's Remarkable Engineering Team

Below is an article originally written by Alyse Borkan at PowerToFly Partner Casper, and published on February 17, 2017. Go to Casper's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

You sleep on it every night, but you probably don't stay up thinking about what goes into making a mattress comfortable. The same way a car is designed to drive smoothly on rough terrain and a laptop is engineered to load 30 internet tabs quickly, a mattress is meticulously created to sleep comfortably, support your entire body, and maintain its form for years to come.

Our renowned 30 person engineering team spends their days and nights in a lab researching foam compositions, testing new products, and discovering comfort. They are some of the best in the industry and their work continues to be applauded.

Want to learn more about them?

1. Our world-class product team came to Casper from Apple, Google, and IDEO.

2. Collectively, the team holds more than 50 patents!

3. The product team spent 9 months visiting 15 factories to test and understand the properties of 100+ foam samples before they fully designed the Casper mattress. They didn't leave a single material untouched.

4. When was the last time you heard about someone beta testing a mattress? Before Casper launched, we invited people from all walks of life to A/B test our most promising prototypes. We built beds that had two different constructions on each side to make it easy to test differences. Beta testers slept on one side while tracking their sleep, and then the other.

5. Casper has won way more awards than your average mattress. We've been named Fast Company's Most Innovative Company, Time Magazine's Best Invention of 2015, Digiday's Most Innovative Brand of 2016, and Casper products have taken home high honors from IDSA. That's the Industrial Designers Society of America.

6. The product team has spent the last two years making the most intricate adjustments to the Casper mattress. They have added a new fourth transition layer to soften the Casper at even its deepest layers. They've worked with a renowned polymer chemist to make our base foam more durable. They've made sure the Casper can retrain its outrageously comfortable feel in all climates and atmospheres.

7. The design story behind the mattress has been featured in NY Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBS, USA Today, MSNBC, and more.

8. The team has inspired millions at conferences across the globe. Jeff spoke at TedXchange, the WIRED UK conference, and Hustle Con. Neil, Casper co-founder and COO, has spoken at Fast Company's Design by Innovation Festival and Samsung's 837 pop-up alongside Padma Lakshmi and Lauren Bush. Neil is one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business, he was named on Forbes 30 under 30 and was invited to speak in Israel at the global 30 Under 30 Summit.

The Checkr Team
Checkr

An Engineer’s Guide To Interviewing at Checkr

Below is an article originally written by Vannaro Lim, Technical Recruiting Manager at PowerToFly Partner Checkr, and published on February 13, 2017. Go to Checkr's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Interviews are tough! Most companies follow an archaic process that does not properly assess an engineer's talent. From CS fundamentals to data structures that are no longer in use, interviewers tend to fall in the trap of testing things that are neither applicable or relevant to the job. Why on Earth would anyone want to subject themselves to that? A good interview should allow you to show off your skill set and determine whether you want to work there.

We've all spent endless nights cramming for an interview with no clue as to what will or will not be asked. At Checkr, we wanted to make the process better from an engineering perspective and remove all the things that make us cringe while interviewing. That is why we put a lot of thought and empathy into designing our interview process. Our goal is to make it to be indicative of who you are as a software engineer. The hardest thing isn't finding talented engineers, it's finding engineers that people want to work with. Our ideal candidate needs to embody Checkr's core values:

drive and grit, humility, smart and resourceful, connection, learning, excellence with purpose, transparency, positivity, and appreciation.

What we look for in a candidate

An ideal candidate to us is someone who likes to explore and learn things that are outside their scope and comfort. It is someone who can demonstrate a high degree of drive and grit tempered with authenticity. Someone who values forming real and meaningful connections in order to create an inclusive community which helps bring the entire team up rather than just themselves. We value those who exhibit honesty and appreciation from the simplest solution to the most complicated one. People who appreciate diverse backgrounds and understand that diversity is not just an initiative but a mentality tend to thrive at Checkr.

Our Web Application Team working hard =)

"Who you are at home is who you should be at work. We want the best version of you and want you to be comfortable here."

— Khoi Ho (People Ops)

Key To Success

Communication, communication, communication! This is the key to success at Checkr. We are looking for engineers who are able to convey their thoughts, help us understand their process, and most importantly, ask for guidance when they hit a roadblock. We are here to help! We want our interviews to be the best representation of who you are as an engineer. Don't be afraid to ask questions, this will allow your interviewer to better understand your problem and provide the right guidance for you to succeed. We want you to be part of the Checkr team.

Environment Setup

In order to avoid any hiccups or unseen problems, here is what you will need during the onsite interview:

  • a working datastore
  • a working dev environment with a web programming language of your choice
  • a testing framework

We don't mind what languages and tools you're using, just use the ones you're most comfortable with!

Here's what our interview process looks like:

1. Resume Screen

We're evaluating whether you're a good fit for the position you applied for. We receive many amazing candidates but not everyone will be a good fit for Checkr or vice versa. We're not interested in what school you went to, what your GPA was, or even what clubs you were a part of. What matters most to us is that we fit well together and that you're passionate in what you're doing.

2. A Call with Our Technical Recruiter

This process takes about 30 minutes and the main focus is talking about your interests and what it is you're looking for. It helps us determine whether we may be a potential fit for each other.

3. Live Coding Session Done Through Coderpad (We're fans of Python, Ruby or node.js but any language is fine)

As a background check company, it's crucial that we match the identity of the applicant with any data we have, pull or find. The accuracy of determining and matching names is our business. Our live coding session consists of a name matching exercise that is the foundation of your success at Checkr. We found out quickly this is a great indicator for future performance and success on the job. The challenge will consist of verifying names in a given list. You will have a few test cases to test your solution against and one bonus transposition question.

We give our candidates an hour to complete this exercise. We're looking for code that is clean, DRY, readable, and expressive. We want you to talk us through your process, help us understand your decisions — your interviewer is your best advocate. They will help guide you through potential roadblocks and help discover things that you may not have seen.

4. Onsite interview (4–5 hours — 5 interviews)

Our onsite interview is meant to simulate what your day to day would be like at Checkr. These interviews will consist of design, implementation, debugging and refactoring. You can use whatever programming language, environment or editor that you are most comfortable with. We want our interview to be indicative of who you are as an engineer, so please feel free to use any online resources you would normally (Wikipedia, Google, Stack Overflow, etc.) during work. Remember, your interviewer is a collaborator, share what you're thinking and ask for help when needed.

A. Whiteboarding Architecture

This portion is to demonstrate your understanding of microservices and explain an API request life cycle.

B. API Design

We will provide you with a dataset that needs to be imported into your selected datastore. You will be tasked in building out a light JSON API that can read, delete and update. The objective of this interview is for us to gauge your understanding of your datastore, web framework and approach to testing.

C. Object design

This exercise focuses on designing an existing feature at Checkr. More specifically, we'll collaborate on exploring a rule-based system to assist in automating background check processing. Areas to cover will include building a data model and its respective application interface for rule evaluation. Be ready to discuss your schema and thoughts on how to optimize for performance.

D. Refactoring

The slot is used to understand how you communicate, collaborate with your interviewer, and familiarity with your selected language. We want you to show us how you work in your natural dev environment from utilizing known and unknown resources to asking follow up questions, we are curious to see your workflow.

5M background checks reached — 2016

After the interview, we tend to move fairly quickly! You can expect to hear from us within 48 hours with a decision. We strongly believe in transparency so providing feedback is crucial. We want to thank you for taking the time to interview and expressing interest in a career at Checkr! We hope your experience at Checkr is delightful and as pleasant as humanly possible. If you have any questions at all, please let your recruiter know so we can help ensure your success. On behalf of the Checkr team, good luck!

Audible

A Look at Our Event with Audible

PowerToFly was thrilled to team up with Audible to present an exclusive event for women in tech on Wednesday July 20th. Held at Audible's gorgeous office in Newark, New Jersey a capacity crowd was treated to a series of presentations focusing on the current and upcoming technology behind Audible's popular products. Before and after the presentations, guests were able to network with their peers and the Audible team over delicious food and sparkling wine.

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