02/10/19

My Journey from being a Working Student to becoming a Mentor in Frontend

By Daniel Deichfuß

In this interview we speak with Daniel Deichfuß, a Frontend Engineer who joined Delivery Hero 1.5 years ago as a Working Student. He shares his journey from Working Student to Mentor and his learnings along the way. 

Hey Daniel, when did you decide to pursue a career in tech and what inspired you to do so?

If you asked me what I wanted to do when I finished school, I never would have told you I wanted to become an engineer, not in a million years! Music was my only passion. I studied musicology and toured Europe with my band. Later I worked for a record label in Berlin. Around that time, I slowly started gaining more and more interest in programming, specifically in web development, since it was something that was very useful to me as a musician. My best friend, who also happened to be the singer in my band, was a freelance Web Developer/Designer for many years and played a very important role in me pursuing a career as an Engineer.

Why did you decide to work for foodora/Delivery Hero?

During my time at the record label, I realised more and more that I really loved programming and everything that surrounded it. To top that off, my career in the music industry wasn’t going anywhere ;). As a result, I decided to get a second bachelor’s degree in Computer Science & Media at the Beuth University in Berlin. Though I believe you don’t need a degree to become a good developer, I do believe it was the right decision for me at the time. It helped me to find my passion in this huge field and to better understand the bigger picture. 

As it turned out, my studies also somehow lead me to Delivery Hero. One of my classmates was working here. When the time came for me to leave the music industry for good, I began looking for contacts. He was the first person that popped into my mind. I felt quite insecure about my abilities at the time and was intimidated by all the job requirements in the job ads. Moreover, I couldn’t find many entry level positions that I could pursue while finishing my studies. As you can imagine, I was extremely grateful to have someone on the inside who could give me advice and guidance through this stressful time. He was also the one who got me my interview with Delivery Hero…and the rest is history!

How did you develop your career at Delivery Hero?

I started at Delivery Hero as a working student, which means I worked part time while finishing my studies. I’m very thankful for the trust Delivery Hero put in me and how flexibly I could manage my time as a Working Student. I almost immediately got my own tasks to work on and after a few short months working together with another Frontend Engineer, I soon joined a new squad where I became the sole engineer responsible for Frontend. Right after finishing my studies, I joined as a full time employee. 

In all that time, I had the greatest mentor who invested so much time into answering every silly question I asked. He became one of the most influential people in my professional development. Today I’m a mid-level engineer and have the privilege of mentoring an entry-level engineer.

Tell us about your current team structure and culture?

At Delivery Hero we work using the Spotify Model, which means I basically have two teams. One team is the Squad, an interdisciplinary team. This is the group of people that I spend most of my time with. This team works together on a specific topic, in my case, it’s Growth. The Growth team works at the intersection of marketing and product development. Our focus is on getting more people to use the platform and to ensure that they always want to return. 

The other team is the Frontend Chapter, where all the Frontend Engineers come together. In the Frontend Chapter we focus on knowledge sharing, how to improve our applications and how to best work together in order to achieve our goals. The chapters focus more on the technical improvements, while the squads focus on delivering features and enhancing the product itself.

One of the greatest things about working at Delivery Hero is the multicultural team. I feel this creates a wonderfully vibrant and open culture, which I love. Since I started here I have always been stunned by the amount of trust that has been given to me, allowing me to develop and implement my ideas. Delivery Hero’s trust in me has allowed me to take ownership over my projects, which has impacted my personal and professional development hugely. 

What is the biggest accomplishment your team at DH has achieved? 

My team and I have accomplished a lot together, such as implementing a subscription feature as a Micro Frontend. However, I have to say that the biggest accomplishment for me is not a technical one. It’s how we have been able to grow as a team, creating a culture of openness. I love how we can share our opinions, have passionate discussions and how we can be fully transparent about the things we don’t know or we need to improve.

What exciting projects are you currently working on?

One of the most exciting things we have worked on is adapting a Micro Frontend architecture for our new applications and developing a whole new Micro Frontend for our new Subscription feature (read more about Micro Frontends here). Besides that, I’m also very excited to be mentoring an engineer who just joined us. It’s a very eye-opening experience, seeing somebody going through the same stages I went through when I first joined. I hope that I’m able to be as helpful as my mentor was to me back then and make his journey as rewarding as possible.

Daniel and his mentee, Max

What can a new team member expect to learn in your team?

There are many things a new team member could expect to learn on our team. We provide scalable solutions to complex problems, while always keeping the end user in mind. We work in a massive company on a product that is being used by millions of people all around the globe. Every developer is working in self-organized agile teams to deliver exciting new features. As developers, we are responsible for our features from inception to production and beyond. We act as partners to the Product Owners to deliver the best solutions to our business stakeholders and our customers. Finally, we contribute towards the technical growth of the chapter by sharing ideas, being open to discussions and championing new ideas.

What kind of new team members are you looking for?

The most important traits we are looking for in our Engineers is that they are smart, focused, and of course a team fit. There are two questions we ask ourselves after every interview: “Do I want to work with this person?” and “Will this person be successful at Delivery Hero?”. If you are interested in learning more about our interviewing process, have a look at this article

When interviewing Frontend Engineers, we focus entirely on the underlying technologies. We rarely ask any questions about frameworks or tools. We believe that frameworks continuously evolve over time and are also easy to learn on the job. However, really understanding how things work under the hood will make you a much better engineer.

What is your advice to people who want to pursue a career in Frontend Development?

Candidates often struggle in interviews when they focus on shiny new frameworks, instead of deeply understanding the underlying technologies. I know this is especially hard in Frontend, as we have new frameworks every other week and new trends emerging constantly. 

I remember vividly how confused I was with what to learn first (to be honest, that is often still the case). My number one advice is to focus on the basics, like the ins and outs of JavaScript. Don’t forget about CSS, how a browser renders a page, clean code, good design and how to make a website run faster. Since our field is complex and ever changing, it’s also ok not to know everything. However, we believe it’s very important to be transparent about what you do and don’t know, and to never stop learning. 

Apart from that, I think it’s also incredibly helpful to find someone who is already working in the industry, someone who can guide you. Some of the best places to find someone like this are meetups and initiatives, such as Code on Wheels. 

I’m hoping that through this interview, we have provided a little more information and guidance for students and graduates who are at the beginning of their careers. 

Are you interested in starting your career at Delivery Hero as well? Take a look at our Associate Software Engineer position