Becoming a software engineer isn’t always straightforward or the same for each person; careers in the industry can start at any point in your working life, backed by a variety of studied disciplines or work experience. We know that good software engineers don’t always take the traditional path into development, which is why we’ve created Wayfair Labs.
Wayfair Labs helps kick-start the careers of software developers hoping to join our full-stack and mobile software engineering teams. It’s a twelve week onboarding program where new hires get hands-on experience tackling Wayfair Engineering challenges, while building and showcasing their skills through projects of their own design. From learning new technologies to practicing real-world software architecture, Labsters, as we like to call them, get a chance to hone their programming skills and work toward mastery of the Wayfair tech stack.
The Labs Program allows us to hire engineers from a broad range of backgrounds, and place them onto a development team where they’ll make the biggest impact. They've often recently graduated from a Coding Bootcamp, College or University, or have already completed training and work experience as an Engineer. Through this series, you’ll meet Wayfair Engineers who’ve joined us through Labs and who also have a Coding Bootcamp educational background. They’re just a few of the many successful Labsters who have found a home at Wayfair.
Pleased to Meet You! I’m Suzi Curran
I graduated from Boston-based coding bootcamp Launch Academy in 2016, and completed Wayfair's fullstack Labs program. Since then, I’ve worked with several teams in Merchandising Engineering to manage the zillions of products on Wayfair.com, teamed up on an award-winning project for Wayfair's internal hackathon, and recently mentored a new batch of junior engineers as a Labs tech lead. I’m currently very into weight-lifting and frequent visits to Japan.
My Favorite Part of the Wayfair Labs Experience
I really liked how Wayfair Labs mirrored aspects of a bootcamp experience by giving us challenging but realistic projects, providing us with technical mentors, and surrounding us with a peer group. It reassured me to know that if I could complete the challenges of an intense coding bootcamp, I would also be able to accomplish getting up to speed on these new technologies and frameworks. My mentors were very attentive and available to guide me when I was stuck, and my fellow Labsters and I supported each other through informal code reviews, lunch outings, and general moral support. Ultimately, I think it was a great way to transition from the classroom to a “real” work environment.
How Does Mentorship Occur During Labs?
Wayfair designated an engineer as our tech lead, who sat together with our cohort during the first month. This lead provided technical guidance to unblock us when necessary, much in the same way that a “real” tech lead would. We also had the assistance of three mentors; engineers who give a smaller portion of their usual workday to provide code reviews and supplement the help our tech lead provided. Our mentors came from a variety of engineering teams at Wayfair, and we learned a lot about different departments by hearing them talk through their work during stand-up meetings.
The Bootcamp Learnings that Gave Me an Edge
I attended Launch Academy, a Boston full-stack bootcamp. Even back in 2016, Launch Academy was teaching students how to work with React, a modern frontend framework. This quickly became valuable when I joined Wayfair, which had just decided to move in that direction. One of the tasks we were given in Labs was to convert a store page that had been written in an older framework to React, and I was able to both solidify my knowledge and also assist my fellow Labsters who were new to frontend frameworks.
Wayfair After Labs
I was placed on a team in the Merchandising Engineering department, which builds tools that employees and suppliers use to manage the zillions of products we sell online. My first two months were spent developing a new tool for modifying product descriptions in bulk, which helped me develop my backend experience and get accustomed to the structure of our product data. Since then, I’ve have had the opportunity to work on several other tools, and to help neighboring teams get going on React. Recently, I was even able to return to Labs as a tech lead and share what I’ve learned with our next batch of junior engineers.
Keep an Eye on Us!
Be sure to catch other posts in this series, where we explore how our Bootcamp graduates prospered via Wayfair Labs! Our top tip from Labs Recruiter Jennifer Cosenza: If you’re interested in applying for a role as a full-time Software Engineer, check out our Careers Page and be sure to search for “Wayfair Labs” in the job posting. You can find further job listings at wayfaircareers.com.