Front-End Engineering Culture

My Journey to trivago

About me

I’m Behrang Yarahmadi from Iran and I’m a 3rd-year Computer Engineering student at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Sometimes, when I look back over the time I have spent working at trivago, I see how it changed my life and how lucky I’ve been to have the chance to work with this amazing community, to live and to learn with them. I look back and see a younger version of myself looking desperately for something different and, through sheer luck, getting it.

Joining trivago

I know for certain that if I tried to join trivago now, it wouldn’t be as simple as it was!

The thing is, it is not easy for a student to find a job related to their major. Normally, most students just choose one of those simple weekend jobs. I was no exception. During the week, I was a Computer Engineering student and on the weekends I would do part-time jobs; basically anything that would match my schedule. Up until a friend of mine sent me a job advertisement from trivago in the Manual Testing department. It was a student job and didn’t have that many requirements other than “be enthusiastic” about the internet and having basic computer experience.

A comfortable student office job like this is very competitive and I thought I had next to zero chance, but I applied anyway. The whole process didn’t take that much time. Fill out a form, enter your email address and most importantly, attach a CV and a letter of motivation.

I submitted the form and completely forgot about it. To my surprise, two weeks later, I received an email asking to confirm an interview time. I remember the day, I was sitting there after a discrete math lecture and reading the email. I had to read the email a few more times when I got back home to believe it. Worst still was that I had to postpone the interview to the next week but, to my surprise, they were completely cool with it. I could hardly believe it. It was interesting that they mentioned in the email that I didn’t have to put on a formal suit. Being yourself was encouraged and that made me like trivago from the beginning.

For the interview day I tried to be prepared and to be there on time. The first impression I had when I entered the office, was that this place was completely different from other offices I had seen in Germany. The design of the place was giving me this idea that trivago wanted its employees to work in a more relaxed and stress-free environment. Fully supplied kitchens on every floor, meeting rooms with different and distinct designs and even game rooms for employees to let off some steam!

I’m not going to talk about the interview that much, but I think I did a good job there because the week after, I received an email saying I was accepted and I could start working next month.

At trivago

Every new employee at trivago starts with an onboarding week. We learn about the culture and how trivago was founded, ending with a project that we would have to research and present. Then, depending on the department you were assigned to, you may have your team’s onboarding.

As a student my onboarding was only for the first day, with no need to do the project at the end of the week. Instead starting immediately with my team’s onboarding. That was pretty straightforward. I needed to learn the vocabulary of the job and how to work with certain tools. Easy peasy!

At trivago's barista bar

I think one of the best things that is offered at trivago are the flexible work hours and holidays. What they really care about is that you get the job done. You can come in late and leave early but, as long as you finish your work, there is no problem.

I have always had the intention of learning by doing. At the time, I wanted to learn NodeJS, a JavaScript runtime environment and so, naturally, writing a practical application was the best way to do it. At the same time, while I was working as a tester, I always thought: “How can I work here and actually do what I study?”. There are many departments at trivago that need software developers. How can I join one of them? I had no idea. That was until I started working on my small NodeJS project that had the potential to greatly aid my Manual Testing team. I didn’t know that this small project together with help of my friend was going to give me the job I always wanted as a student.

At trivago, each employee has a Responsibility Lead, who is your team leader, and a Talent Lead, who helps you develop yourself as a person. My friend had spoken to his Talent Lead and, through his recommendation and connections, managed to secure a spot for us on the Hotel Search team as JavaScript developers. After a short interview, we were in and finally, my long time goal was fulfilled.

It was interesting that both of us were the first students to ever join the team. This meant a lot to me. I finally got what I wanted and as a 3rd-year student at that time, this was great. I could gain real world experience before I even started working as a full-time employee.

As soon as I started working in the Hotel Search department, I realized that this is exactly the kind of place I wanted to work in. Hotel search is the place that makes trivago the way it is. It is here that new and creative ideas emerge, and everyone works to help realize them.

Working in Hotel Search

Upon starting I had a mentor assigned to teach me, give me tasks and help me integrate better into the new team. He started by asking a little bit about my background and then started to introduce me to all other members of the team. Normally, mentors are Tech Leads in the team. So, if you have any questions, they can most likely answer it or at least they know who can answer it best.

After settling in and setting up my development environment, I was ready to do some tasks. My mentor suggested following the method of “learning by doing” and I couldn’t agree more. Every task was described in three parts. Current situation, what we want to achieve and how we want to do it. Maybe one of the best parts of doing such tasks was that most of the topics were new to me so every one of them was opening a new horizon and letting me discover the unknown.

In Hotel Search, we have cross-functional teams or domains. Within these domains we have temporary teams that are formed around initiatives to deliver user value.

So, the structure within the Hotel Search team has a fluid form. I might be sitting next to someone now, but next week someone else would be sitting there. This is how I started to get to know many people and learn from them. I would sometimes feel sorry for the developers next to me, because of the many questions I was asking them, but they always made time for me and answered them patiently.

JavaScript Guild meeting with webpack's Tobias
Koppers

At this point, I was already learning a lot, so it was time to challenge myself by attending a JavaScript Guild meeting. I remember the first time I attended a guild meeting. I came out of the meeting room wondering what the heck they were talking about. A few months later I was presenting a small route API that I had implemented in the codebase. I take that as a good sign of progress!

Conclusion: Path ahead

Every single day that I have been working here at trivago, I’ve learnt new things, made new friends and challenged myself in ways I’d never thought possible. I learnt that I must maintain a good work-life balance or else risk burning out, no matter where I end up next. In the end, for all tasks or projects I do, I should always welcome feedback and be able to properly give feedback to others. I will remember that it was my journey to trivago that changed everything for me.

Behrang Yarahmadi

Software Engineer Student at trivago. Mostly working on core architecture, webpack and if I have some time left, I create small features for trivago website.

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