After a bit of a hiatus for the summer, we’re back with another installment in our meet the team series. Today we chat with summer intern David Owen, who spent the last few months working in the product team. This was actually David’s second internship with us, it was great to have him back. Over the years many team members have made the transition from intern to full time employee, several then moving upwards into management roles. Unfortunately David is off to academia, leaving us to get his PhD at UCL. Here’s David holding court at our recent team day.
1. What do you do at Nestoria?
I’m a product intern, which is a surprisingly varied role. I tend to think of product as being the bridge between commercial and engineering teams, with an emphasis on the users’ experience of our site. Day-to-day, my job is roughly divided into three areas: a) figuring out, on a fairly high level, where/how Nestoria needs improvement; b) working with engineers to implement those improvements; and c) frantically trying to fix things that go wrong. All of this is done under the watchful eye of Product Supremo, Sara Nazarri.
2. What advice would you have for anyone doing an internship in a consumer internet company?
Get a good overview of both the commercial side and the technological side. Without a basic grasp of both, it’s too easy to miss important things. Fortunately, everyone is very friendly at Lokku, so it’s always been easy to learn about these by asking for help. Set yourself clear goals. Long-term, weekly, and daily. In my opinion, a company is missing out if they don’t have an equivalent of Nestoria’s quickfire 11am meetings.
3. This was your second time working with us at Nestoria. What prompted you to come back?
Lovely people, satisfying work, delicious Exmouth Market food.
4. What have you learned?
Back in the day, I learned the rudiments of Perl and MySQL, and I made my first forays into the world of business statistics. These have been invaluable to me ever since. More recently, I’ve started to learn some softer skills: things like user testing and very elementary UX. Oh, and over both internships, I’ve gotten a lot better at time management. Lokku gives you the responsibility of managing your own time, to a much greater extent than other companies I’ve worked for. At first, this can be tricky to figure out, but ultimately this freedom results in the best work from all of us.
5. What project that you worked on are you most proud of?
Recently, planning work for the next version of map clusters — a feature that will make it easier to visualise large numbers of listings at the appropriate level of resolution on our map. This isn’t actually complete yet, but was very exciting to work on, and is slowly making its way towards the live site. I also enjoyed working on ways to improve our listings’ titles and descriptions. I’ve worked on vaguely similar things before, in an academic context, and it was great to look at this in a real-world problem. Three years ago, I was most proud of some statistical tools I made to look at the search results we show to users. Alas, these weren’t very durable, or even very useful in their original form. Some of the ideas hung around, though, and I like to think they were the starting point for some of today’s far more impressive metrics and tests.
6. What would you change about life at Nestoria?
Very little. I wouldn’t want to change a winning formula. At the risk of ranting about my favourite thing, I want to see us take a more principled approach to statistics and metrics. Fortunately, we’ve already made huge progress on this, and the work is in far more capable hands than my own. Oh, and maybe some more natural light in our underground property search lair.
7. Now that your internship at Nestoria is winding down, what’s next?
I’m starting a PhD here in London, researching how MRI scans can be used to predict dementia and assess anti-dementia drugs. Very exciting stuff. Also, going to the pub.
Good luck David. We are always here to help … with the pub.