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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to get a job at Square? - Girl Geek Dinner Edition Part 1

This post includes my notes and researches on how to get a job at Square, the credit card reader and e-commerce company. Attending Girl Geek Dinner at Square tonight. Doing some due diligence and brushing up on programming skills. While I am not interested in a job at Square, I am a Square Market merchant and eBay store owner At Lotus Boutique, so e-commerce and tech topic of interests, tech career counseling - also topic of interest.

Having raised more than $300 Million dollars in funding (introductory read: how to get a job at square by +Mashable ), and having been founded by Twitter founders, Square hardly needs to convince people to join. Intersecting hardware, software, mobile, financial payment processing, and pushing the frontier of use of new frameworks (Ember.js D3 for its Seller's Dashboard), Square is hardly a easy pick for any dazzling ambitious souls. You can read about the development and wireframing process here. And engineer Allen Cheung decided to explain it in more details on Quora (why the framework?).

If you are applying for an engineering job, it's best to know the stack and mobile dev environment, here's Quora's take by the Engineering Manager, Zack Rock. And why not read the company's own words on how to get in? The Square Engineering Corner blog provides some insights into the nature of the job and how to get one here. You can learn about the pair programming interview, or the code challenges. What's on a company's website, is really a fair game to ask in any interviews.

In the Mashable article, Seth claims that Square engineering interviews start with a Skype call with a code problem to be worked out with a real engineer (read, this takes time and energy, submit a good solid application. These interviews aren't cheap to come by).  And if all goes well, then the candidate proceeds to a full day problem solving oriented interview to get a taste of what working here is really like.

Perks? You can have faith this place has amazing perks, so all the more reasons to beef up your raw talent or do lots of homework.

I will do a part 2 after the girl geek dinner, which usually provides valuable insights of what the process really is like and how to get into the door faster. Stay tuned. 

Last but not least, Square hires for plenty of business, finance related roles. With some due diligence, good talents and a strong professional background, really, any one has a chance. You don't have to code, but if you can, super. There's a strong engineering culture here

Bulletin:
Mashable article How to get a job at Square http://mashable.com/2013/02/17/square-jobs/
Square Engineering Corner blog Ember.js and D3 for dashboard http://corner.squareup.com/2012/04/building-analytics.html
Square Engineering Corner blog http://corner.squareup.com
Glassdoor talks about Square interviews http://www.glassdoor.com/Interview/Square-Interview-Questions-E422050.htm
(Quora links are embedded in the article)








Friday, April 11, 2014

Announcement: At-Lotus Top Brand Hosting Beijing International Design Week

One of the top brands that we carry at At-Lotus Boutique
At-Lotus Boutique eBay
At-Lotus Boutique Square
At-Lotus Boutique Shopify
is now hosting competitions in Beijing for the International Design Week.
This is exciting news for us, considering that China is our next market.

We are excited that Chinese designers will be featured in this competition.
We are also excited to continue to deliver the best products to all corners of the United States. Will be posting more Kikkerland products soon!



At-Lotus Boutique store banner



Friday, March 21, 2014

A Day in Life of Technology Consultant

Tis an exciting that I announce I am offering +Helpouts by Google  on how to interview and plan for a career in consulting, specifically technology consulting. I will be able to review your resume, and cover letter, walk you through details of how to prepare for cases and win that opportunity to start an amazing career. Prior to joining two YCombinator companies in the Silicon Valley, I was a Technology Consultant at a top consultancy. I have won 7 awards including a national award, led recruiting efforts and reviewed resumes. When I was still a student at Stanford University, I already worked at the Stanford Career Development Center as a Student Business Advisor (and I love it). I am comfortable tutoring and mentoring younger folks too, for those who are interested in planning a business career before or during college.
You can now book Dilys Sun on Google Help Out


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

MailChimp Update Plain Text Editing is Gone

Got a reply from MailChimp newsletter support to confirm that indeed plain text editing (see our conversation trail and the full reply below), which used to be a part of the workflow of composing a newsletter is removed. Only 1% of MailChimp users take advantage of the feature. The company I work for AirPair - instant access to world's best developers via pair programming on video chats takes quality control seriously, and always devotes time to editing the plain text edition (some developers may prefer this version, as it is similar and non-cluster like many other news, group, digests and news/releases of development tools they subscribe to).  We are "MailChimp 1%"!

MailChimp used to have an option allowing editing plain text form of a newsletter. It's the ultimate plain form (possibly the most readable, definitely the most light-weight), the next is probably with images disabled (with the alts displayed), then there's the full multimedia versions, some even with GIF embedded (like General Assembly ones).



During our weekly newsletter sprint, I noticed that the feature is missing and tweeted +MailChimp @mailchimphttp://www.twitter.com/mailchimp

Thankfully the reply came quickly with a full reply!
Read the full-length MailChimp support reply regarding plain text editing being removed or see the screenshot below.



Meat of the reply:
"after a great deal of research, our UX team discovered that only about 1% of active users were actually altering the content on the Plain Text step. As a result, the decision was made to elimate the separate Plain Text step and the Campaign Builder will now automatically package the content contained within the HTML portion of the campaign with the plain text content when the campaign is sent." - MailChimp



MailChimp support eased my mind instantly that I am not going insane when discovered that the Plain Text Editing is missing. It turns out to be a deliberate design decision in MailChimp's v9.0 release.

Thank you awesome growth boss +Igor Lebovic showing me how to be a +MailChimp super user one step at a time. Of course we are a startup, and our newsletter is not perfect each time, but just proud that we spend a lot of time on quality control, iteration, and really think about testing and deploying newsletters rather than just publishing.

Monday, March 3, 2014

10 Surprises at YCombinator's First Female Founders Conference

March 1, 2014 is a game changing day: for the first time ever, YCombinator's usual demo day spot (the Computer Science museum in Mountain View) has a room full of wonderful women, and not just women, FemEngineers and extraordinary #femalefounders! Everyone at the conference is optimistic that 2014 is the pivoting year when female founders rise to the occasion and take leadership posts in advancing product innovation and entrepreneurship. Here are some highlights, surprises and unusually touching, shocking, and inspiring moments.


  1. Adora Cheung (co-founder of Homejoy) gave an unusual speech about the ups and downs of entrepreneurs, who are "sprinting a marathon" full of surprises and hurdles. Her rise to success took maxing out her credit card, becoming nearly homeless, brushing teeth at McDonald's and becoming a "cleaning lady" and had to justify why she wanted to clean with a college degree. (I personally think she's the best speaker. YC alumni seem to all agree that her speech was inspirational).
  2. Jessica Livingston (partner at Y Combinator) recalling having to do everything that was non-technical at the founding of Y Combinator: from doing tax to carrying air conditioners. And working hard with her baby boy on the desk, next to her work station. 
  3. Jessica Livingston (partner at Y Combinator) announced the Female Founder conference on the YC blog, yet Paul Graham was the cover of Inc.'s press
  4. More than 50% of the room raised their hands when asked if she is an engineer!
  5. More than 50% of the room raised their hands when asked if she is a founder!
  6. Kathryn Minshew (co-founder at The Muse) and her team were rejected by more than 10 accelerators in NYC before getting accepted into Y Combinator.  Kathryn is also a super fast talking ex-McKinsey consultant (yay, consultants! Disclaimer: I am an ex-consultant too). Her team all left their glamorous job to found their dream startup.
  7. Jessica Mah (co-founder at inDinero.com) went from poster startup child on newspapers and the president of UC Berkeley's Computer Science club to getting five-star office spaces with Jacuzzi hot tub, to nearly broke, had to let go of everyone, went through a lot of self doubt, to land in the typical startup in the living room/garage situation. She and her co-founder each had a room in a house, and hack with the entire team in the living room. Some say she's the very best speaker.
  8. The audience is super amazing! Among the audience, there are serial entrepreneurs, startup 1st employees, engineers, PhD's and graduates of all kinds of bootcamps including Dev Bootcamp, Hackbright, and Coding Dojo (lolz myself?). There's NatashatheRobot, Michelle Sun a Hackbright graduate and a Buffer engineer who went to found the First Code Academy in Hong Kong, China, Vanessa Hurst who co-founded Girls Develop It and Code Montage. Jessica Greenwalt, a Y Combinator crowdsourced medical info startup co-founder, Vivian Xue the founder of The Box Noir and Soothie in Los Angeles. The list goes on and on and is nothing short of being inspiring.
  9. 34.5 % of women founders have started companies with their spouse/ significant other. It is still unfortunately true that women may have trouble finding co-founders at time. Founding a company with a significant other can be potentially a hack.  PG and Jessica have been co-founders at YCombinator when they got married.
  10. Last but not least, women have founded or co-founded extraordinary startups. It's still a "surprise" though already a fact because there isn't enough coverage yet. Homejoy, The Muse, Eventbrite, InDinero, YCombinator, HireArt, VMWare, Science Exchange, and many more!!
If there's a take away from Female Founders and the annual Startup School : found a startup now, it's not easy, there will be ups and downs, yet it is extremely rewarding! There's a huge network of founders already, ready to share their experiences.



While not a founder yet, Dilys has been blogging about technology and startup life in the Silicon Valley. She was previously the Codecademy Girl at the Crunchies 2012 award ceremony, and has been writing about learn-to-code, women in technology and web development bootcamps ever since. Her passion is to share the Silicon Valley busy daily moments with her readers via her CodeSumBlog. Dilys currently works at a YC-backed startup - AirPair.com, and previously worked at codecademy.com, another YC-backed startup.  Press about Dilys Sun

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Annyeonghaseyo Hello Korea! What the Codecademy Girl Thinks about Online Code Schools

Days after the Crunchies 2013 (Feb 2014) award ceremony, a Korean reporter from http://www.bloter.net/ reached out for an interview, which I accepted and delivered while enjoying dinner at my favorite restaurant in San Francisco. She wants to take my "Codecademy Girl" story to Korea, write about my opinions on online code schools like Treehouse, Udacity, Codecademy, Coursera, and talk about my story how I got from not knowing how to code to Crunchies and my current position at airpair.com

A dear Twitter friend was kind enough to translate almost the entire write up. You can see the Korea version here.



It's been an incredible journey with many supporters and humbling experience along the way. This is another good way to commemorating my Crunchies anniversary. Amazingly enough, in this year's low profile participation, many still reached out to me and chatted with me about last year's Crunchies and the memorable moments. It was a great honor and lifetime experience to be a highlight of the "Tech oscar green carpet event".



Here's the friendly translation from the twitter Jeesun (you are the best)!

It talks about how you studied Economics at Stanford and worked as a technology consultant at Deloitte before you got into coding. It also says due to the location of Stanford (right next to Silicon Valley) and its famous seminars held by big tech CEOs like Bill Gates, everyone at Stanford is very into computer science regardless of their major.

It also mentions your previous job as a technology consultant at Deloitte, where you realized that the coworkers that had studied computer science in college learned the task that they were assigned to faster than those who hadn’t studied computer science. It also talks about your accomplishments at Deloitte. It says you have won a number of awards at Deloitte. But despite of all the awards you won at Deloitte, you had decided to quit your job and learn programming for the better future. 

--There are many resources online to learn about programming such as Edex, Udacity, Coursera, and etc. However, she chose Codeacademy because she felt like it was the best platform to learn about coding for people with no computer programming background. “Computer Science lectures online are hard to understand for people with no computer programming background. These courses are aimed at people with computer science major. Codeacademy does not have any instructions or orders, you just learn as you type.”

Can people be a real programmer by only using Codeacademy? Dilys says “no”. “Codeacademy gives the basic understanding of what each programming language is like. In order to become a real programmer, people need to take more steps than just Codeacademy.”

“Codeacademy doesn’t require any lectures. All you need to do is type the codes that you are told to write. You write and correct your codes until you get it right. Some beginners get frustrated by fixing the codes constantly, but that’s the real life of programmers. Perfect coding comes from deleting and fixing the codes constantly. Famous programmers have come to where they are now by fixing their codes nonstop. Codeacademy is the best site to learn that part of the programming culture.”

She currently works at AirPair.  “Learning how to code can open a lot of doors.” She mentions that sites like Github and CodeAcademy are groundbreaking in the tech world. "Now, we can learn programming for free and communicate with other programmers so much easier than we used to before. There will be more sites like Codeacademy in the future where people will have more access to coding."

Dilys is currently learning a new programming language by using a site other than CodeAcademy, CodeSchool. She’s currently learning Ember Js. 

 “I couldn’t even dream about coding before I used codeacademy. I used to think coding was impossible but now that Codeacademy got me rid of that fear, I am no longer afraid of challenges that I used to think was impossible. I dream about doing a start up in Silicon Valley in the future. Who knows maybe I could master the entire computer programming by then?”

Apparently I have a Korean version of my name Dilys Sun :)


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Sober Crunchies Gives Back

Tech giveback -  the new slogan of this year's Crunchies tech award ceremony. Thanks to Ron Conway's opening address: it's time for the tech community to come together and each addresses the widening income gap in the city. San Francisco is the city where tech stuff happens, but there are now protests about the way techies work, and even the way techies go to work (Google buses controversy).

And indeed when the BART went on strike, techies of the valley barely felt a pinch, when the rest of the peninsula lined up for MUNIs, ferries, and even cable cars to get by.

There was a simple call to action: omakase's charitable donation drive came right after the speech. Donate now, and even label what we donate or volunteer for - show that we care.

The Crunchies helps a little. Ron Conway specifically called that no one is exempted: we each needs to do our share. Before we go build a tech utopia, we need to think about the rest of the society, and what would happen to it, if we unilaterally decide our course of action.

Don't forget, when we unplug from the society we also unplug from our users. Not a single award winner tonight failed to acknowledge its users. In a tech utopia, we have Steve Jobs, Crunchies founders, but do we have users, consumers, investors and ... electricity? There may be a significance that Edward Snowden won a Crunchies award. Or is there?