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It’s been a long since I wrote something… and I’m glad I’ve been busy with some really amazing opportunities I’d be talking about in this write-up. And guess what, I’m really excited to pen down my experience at Mercari, where I’ve completed my one year a month back (I should have completed 2 years 😭).
I, Pd-san, and Kayo-san in Bangalore for our India Project
BTW, I was going to title the article “My Internship Experience At Mercari”, but as you’d understand after reading the write-up, I’m myself not sure what I’ve been here.
A little background about myself and my relationship with Mercari. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, I lost the opportunity to visit Mercari for an internship in Summer 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Thankful to the understanding Talent Acquisition team at Mercari, my internship was postponed to the following year, 2021. We started with the remote working mode (AKA online mode). And now, I’ve been working for myself at Mercari for over a year remotely (yes, through college days as well!).
My first impression of Mercari was formed through the interview process. I’ve already talked about the technical aspects of the process in my previous blogs, however, when I converse in person I tend to focus more on the emotional aspect of the experience.
During the same time as Mercari, I was being interviewed by a few other startups and technology MNCs. All the interview processes were similar - technical screening, coding round 1, coding round 2 … HR. Mercari stood out here - while the process was similar the focus was on my past work experience, projects I’ve built, systems I can creatively envision, etc.
There was a technical screening round and a few algorithmic questions here and there - still there were more of the design challenges that I loved. And, this is just my personal opinion (supported by my Engineering Manager at Mercari 😉), that software engineering is a lot more about communication, creativity, and problem-solving than is it about coding in a particular language. If I’ve to be honest (and hopefully my Engineering Level is not reduced once this is public 😨), I still don’t feel super confident in PHP or GoLang - and I’ve been working on them for over a year now, pushing code to production! What I’ve become better at is solving problems that are thrown my way (and I bet they aren’t just technical at Mercari).
So, let’s get back to my experience, away from fangirling about my pre-joining interviews. So, after a year of the interview process, I finally got to know my team. Spoiler Alert! I love my team and I’m really upset that all of us have grown to now be moved to new responsibilities in a few months.
Not gonna lie, I had a lot of scepticism about the working style at Mercari (as my centre was in Japan). While most of it had been slowly erased by Mercari through the year-long interaction, I wasn’t still sure if I’d fit in well. To my surprise, my team turned about to be so flexible as to shift their StandUp time to post-lunch to accommodate the time zone difference.
While I could go a long about my team - I’ll share the best part. Honest Feedback!
The team has a beautiful culture of being honest and respectful about feedback so all of us can grow together. In my first one-on-one with my then Engineering Manager and TechLead, I was made clear about the concept of direct honest feedback for fast improvement. And, strangely, I’ve not found one engineer at Mercari who doesn’t follow this (sometimes brutally but it’s sweet).
Lots of projects come with lots of team bonding sessions!
So, as I was working from overseas remotely, and Japan has a strong respect for privacy, I was not provided with a lot of access and this should have limited the responsibilities and projects I could take up. Oh boy! I was so wrong! To give a quick idea - I was made key project owner multiple times where I had to design, plan, break large problems into chunks, and get tasks resolved and where ever there were limitations, my team would cover for me, always.
At Mercari, I’ve worked on solving many interesting problems ranging from understanding and setting up SLOs to building the gRPC middleware for all Mercari microservices (in 100s or more, no idea!) to implementing internationalization. I’ll be frank, the depth of impact my code would have can be gauged from the fact that it took us a few sprints for the review only - and, I’m not lying when I say we might be pushing code faster than a lot of startups because we have very independent responsible teams owning specific microservices.
I don’t know who I’m at Mercari - and I can say for sure, that I’m not just another Software Engineer. As just an intern, with the kind of exposure I’ve received, I’m excited to see what joining Mercari for full time holds 🥳
I’ve had the opportunity to lead Mercari to sponsor the Inter IIT Tech Meet 10.0 - gaining experience in designing and judging hackathon problem statements. To bond among interns Mercari arranges Lunch events which I enjoy having the opportunity to organize.
Meeting with the Zinnov team in Bangalore and the sweet gift
Very recently, Mercari kickstarted the plan to open its Center of Excellence in India and I was flown to Bangalore to be allowed to support our Japanese team in India in all ways possible. And, the experience has been fabulous - from our team bonding sessions to being in meetings with the leadership team where my ideas are listened to and appreciated, and the learning from their experience is unfathomable. And I’m trying my best to set up an amazing office for everyone who joins Mercari India - it’s like a child project of my own now 🤗
Too many good things, huh? Not really - there have been failures on our part and, often, I’ve been at the root (my team never let me feel that though). From production mistakes that lead to millions in losses to forgetting to get approval for processes before proceeding, I’ve done a ton of mistakes here. And these times are low - even when nobody is pointing fingers, we know we could have been better. And sometimes, it’s the processes and systems at Mercari, and I got the urge to blame and overlook!
Kayo-san’s recommended Japanese sticky mango rice (very sticky!)
Now, why cushioned bottom? And not rock hard 😆 Well, I’ve been frustrated and failed a lot - true. However, when don’t we?
It was the direct honest feedback that I received from my team on how specifically I can improve, and many times it was a beyond my pay scale work (a bit of my mindset) task to take the responsibility of going in and improving the Mercari documentation than pointing fingers. All in all, as my mother says, “We all face difficulties, it’s the attitude towards the hardships that make all the difference in the world”. Ah! She doesn’t know English that much, I translated it… she says that in Hindi.
We are talking about mistakes, right? I have a habit of always trying to reduce my mistakes and for this, I even take a note and read through them almost every day. This has gone in sync with the leadership I’ve interacted with at Mercari. And, my experience would be dull without mentioning the very senior leaders at Mercari who have interacted with and shaped my thinking.
From having the opportunity to set up a casual one-on-one with any of my team members, I had the full freedom to schedule time with the CTO (yes, the CTO of the largest IT company in Japan), Lead Architects, etc. This was very different from my prior internship experiences where I would see the CEOs, and CTOs… very busy. Obviously, we’ve to find some free time on their calendar, ask the individual, but hey! That is what we follow for everyone at Mercari!
Oh! I’ve said so much about Mercari, a cultural image must have been built-in in your mind. And I’m not sure what I should add more. Mercari is cool, and Mercari’s best policy is, that the people at Mercari make it and everyone’s opinion is heard and incorporated into how we work (Hybrid mode FTW 👏), what we work on, where we work (India Office 📈), and devices we work on (🍎 M1 here).
I’d just like to conclude my experience - the people at Mercari are sweet, pure, and always looking for ways to support each other. It’s the sole reason (and everything else comes from this as root) that I’ve stayed at Mercari for over a year while attending my University and plan to continue for years to come.
Oh! And if you are as sweet, passionate, and take ownership as us at Mercari, we are looking for smart engineers to join us in India to build the best team at Mercari (😝 no offence to JP/US side).
Me and Kayo-san at our new office!
Please go find for yourself the link to our career portal, this isn’t a job posting - just my experience and a lot of fangirling (couldn’t help it).
And I leave getting to know who Kayo-san is to you if you happen to strike us in Bangalore pubs 😉