The Start of my Integration Consultant Journey

airbnb-cleanup

Credit to Getty Images/Wired

Hi World! In this post I will recap my role as an Integration Consultant at Airbnb. The reason I haven’t been able to blog this past year is because I was busy with my role at Airbnb. I’ll first start with the interview process and potentially with more posts, I’ll go over my day to day, and the interpersonal skills and technological skills I learned. This was my first real semi engineering gig.

Just to recap for all of y’all, I have been in IT since I dropped out of college, I completed a full stack engineering bootcamp where I learned Javascript, AngularJS, and rails. After graduating the bootcamp I searched for jobs relentlessly. After over 150+ jobs applied less than 15% of those jobs got back to me for a phone screen or technical interview. However I saw these interview rejections as an opportunity and recovered from interview rejection, see my blog post about that here. Next thing you know I was cold called by a recruiter about an opportunity for a consultation role. At first it did not sound enticing but after digging deeper I learned the role was at known other than Airbnb. I was going to work with developers and the sales team as the subject matter expert for the Airbnb API. The role was an API Integration consultant, and the API part and the Airbnb part got to me. I was head over heels.

As for the Interview process, I have to admit it was through a recruiter and contracting agency however it was still mainly with the Airbnb platform engineering team. I went through the phone screen which was definitely straightforward and then there was an onsite which lasted about 4 hours. I met with the team lead and we went over questions like:

  • What does REST mean?
  • What is an API request
  • How would structure an XML document?

Next up, I met with a proficient engineer who graduated from MIT. Although intimidating, this guy was super nice we clicked immediately and went through Airbnb’s API documentation which he wrote and developed! I was asked what an API request was again and what is needed for an API request. He also asked what I should improve for the API documentation and I told him that required fields would be helpful which is something that feels standard when it comes to API requests. You want to know what is required and what is optional when you structure your API request.

After speaking with this engineer I had to talk to the engineering manager of the whole team. And I feel this is where my anxiety and imposter syndrome kicked in. I was asked simple behavioral questions like what was the most challenging technical challenge I had, why I want to work at Airbnb and why is the most recent bug I worked on. For the bug question that was asked I gave an example from a hackathon and authentication issue which I solved and the manager kept prying and digging deeper into what I did. I was flustered and was close to repeating my answers but I stayed calm and kept digging into my thought process logically. I was not satisfied with this interview at all.

Lastly I had an interview with the project manager of the team which was this german guy who spoke really fast (sorry man!). I have to be honest and maybe it was the context he was providing but this was a white-boarding problem and he broke down the industry at breakneck speeds. It went a little something like this…”This is a host, this is a business, this is how we generate revenue, and this is the API..”, now where do you see potential issues. I looked at this whiteboard of webs and was dumbfounded. I answered with scale. Scale!?!? That’s the best I could think of. It was a generic and ridiculous answer I thought but I had to explain myself, I said that as this model grows then how would you be able to support it, how does the team handle allocate resources for all the growth going on. My interviewer was slightly impressed but the main takeaway here was that as we move through the web of owners the source of truth of data fluctuates. Think of sending a package to 10 destinations without opening it. Will the package maintain pristine condition as it reaches its 10th destination? No way Jose! This is the case with the Airbnb API. Data changes and is harder to maintain when an API owner sends data to different channels and then ultimately to Airbnb. I learned something at that point and kept asking questions. It was a difficult concept to grasp at first but in the end it clicked and me and this german dude got to an understanding. In the final moments of this last interview we started talking casually about where we traveled to and luckily enough I went to Thailand with friends the month before, my interviewer also went to Thailand and we started chatting about the party scene and all that. It was great and I’m glad we chatted it up. This concluded my whole interview process at Airbnb.

I waited impatiently for a week and next thing you know I was extended an offer. It was marvelous. I was going to work on Airbnb’s API and this new team that was supporting the API. This included work with Airbnb’s product managers, the software engineers, integration engineers, designers, I never met and worked with so much technical people on a daily basis! I will recap some of my interactions and learnings to share with you. I’m hoping this interview shed some light on the Airbnb interview process.

Sending love through 0’s and 1’s to you all!

~b-0ut

 

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