Gyumin Lee and Eunae Jang were participants in this year's trivago Tech Camp. We did an interview with them to learn about their experiences and get some insights into the project development of triversity - a project management tool for university collaboration.
Can you quickly introduce yourselves?
We are originally from South Korea and we've been in Germany for about three years.
How did you find out about the trivago Tech Camp?
We often check the Facebook and Instagram posts from Life at trivago, so we could easily find out about trivago Tech Camp 2019 through social media.
Why did you decide to apply?
It is difficult to gain practical experience when you're studying at university. Most assignments or projects are carried out in small groups of two to three, and there aren't many programming tasks. Therefore, we wanted to experience working on a real-world project. Moreover, we thought that it was an amazing opportunity to communicate with experts in the field.
What were your expectations before the camp started?
We expected to see the whole project from beginning to end. From a technical point of view, we wanted to learn about software engineering such as clean-code, scrum, code-review, etc. We could easily find those buzzwords in many job descriptions, but it is hard to put these methodologies into practice as a student. Apart from tech, we expected to meet the mentors and participants like us. We wondered how the other students would approach real-world projects.
Which project did you choose and why?
We chose to develop a prototype web application of a project management tool for university collaboration at trivago, which we called triversity (a portmanteau of trivago and university). After a short introduction, we knew that we could learn everything that we expected from this project. The most attractive thing was that we already had a future user, Ankia. That meant we could experience how to communicate with a customer, how to analyse their requirements and how to implement a product that is exactly as the user wants.
What was the mentoring like? Can you describe the development workflow a bit?
I was really satisfied with the mentoring. It was exactly what I expected before I applied. I appreciated that our mentor, Matthias Endler, led us from the design to the deployment. The development workflow was totally based on agile methodology.
We built a plan to make a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for our customer in two weeks. We began with a very simple table and developed a prototype in many iterations with many trials and experiments. We chose the three most important tasks from the user's requirements, mapped everything on a Kanban board and discussed what to do and which blockers we had in our daily stand-up meeting. In the stand-up meeting, Matthias gave us not only feedback but also time to think and improve ourselves. It was the most valuable time during tech camp. Sometimes we found a professional developer to help us solve our technical problems.
Next to technical things, we also put effort into branding our product. To show our project as a real product, we picked theme-colors and fonts and also made a logo. We could get insights for designing a concept from the session of UI/UX by Janine Derix.
With all that kind of support, we could develop our beautiful MVP in two weeks!
How did the final presentation go? Any tips?
We are still nervous at the thought of the last presentation. We prepared for the final presentation all day. Matthias gave us a very helpful tip when we had trouble with preparing. It was to just tell our story. We drew a big picture of our story from the first day at trivago. At first we were worried that there would be nothing to say, but in the end we had to leave out so many things to say, because we had experienced so much. We chose only the important keywords from our story and made a frame of the whole presentation.
Eunae began to work on making the keynote. She really enjoyed working on it, because she was interested in designing something. The session about "How to present" by Andy Grunwald (a team lead and Site Reliability Engineer at trivago), which we attended during the final days of tech camp, was really helpful to organize our notes for the presentation efficiently.
The last thing we want to mention about the presentation is to have as many rehearsals as possible before the last presentation. We were not confident and were very nervous, because we didn't have many opportunities to do presentations at university. However, after we had rehearsals in front of our mentor and each other, we became more confident and enjoyed it. Of course, the feedback was a great help too. Thanks to that, we could finish our final presentation gracefully!
Did you get any feedback from future users of your software?
During the development process, we also did a case-study with our future users Ankia and Lara. We recorded user behavior and asked them what the most important function is for their real work. We got detailed feedback, which was very helpful to set the development workflow. After the final presentation, Ankia was happy with our prototype, and we talked a little bit about future work. There are still a few tasks on our Kanban board which correspond with the user requirements, and we are willing to extend it to a real product.
Where can we find more information about your project?
You can find more information about triversity on Github.
Anything else you'd like to add?
If there is anyone who hesitates to apply for the Tech Camp, we strongly recommend them to just give it a try! All the experience we've had at trivago was very meaningful and valuable to us. We enjoyed trivago a lot and we already miss the time we spent at the Tech Camp!
Thanks for the interview!
If you're interested in the trivago Tech Camp, check out the project homepage. Who knows, maybe you want to apply next year?