Mid-Year Update

I recently wrote about the beginning of my gap years experience, which described the events that took place from April to September 2012. I'm still not done writing about the next part of my adventure, but in the meantime I wanted to share what I've been working on recently. Last week, MIT sent me an email asking me to "detail" my time away from school. In the interest of publishing my work more regularly, I'd like to share my response below.

The Update

Hello to everyone at the gap year office,

I'm following the instructions I received last week and writing in to detail my past year and intent to enroll. I do intend to enroll at MIT this coming Fall (2014.) It will take more than a sentence to describe what I've been doing since September.

I decided to take a second gap year because the company I worked for (Locu, a startup focused on helping restaurants publish their information online) was in the process of being acquired by GoDaddy (a private company that sells domains, web hosting, and other related products.) The paperwork was finished by the first week of September; since then I've helped perform the integration work required to merge the two companies in the real world.

Our goal was to re-work our product and focus on distributing business information in an effort to appeal to all types of small businesses, not just restaurants, and to integrate this new product as one piece of GoDaddy's software suite. In particular, I integrated our authentication systems — now, only a single GoDaddy account is required to access our product. I helped design the project at a high level; worked with GoDaddy's internal authentication teams to ensure that they could support our needs; wrote and tested all of the code necessary for the integration; completed the project on schedule and to specification.

Outside of that project, I've written code for a bunch of other aspects of the business, but I think some of the most interesting experiences I've had have been related to general skills. I've learned a lot about managing projects and how to structure the work ahead of time in order to make sure everything is completed in-time and correctly. I've learned more about working with other teams that have competing political goals. I think that I have continued to improve my communication and interpersonal skills in general. Oh, and I open-sourced some of the code I've created.

In part thanks to my work, we managed to have a successful re-launch (two weeks ago!) The commercial we ran in the Super Bowl was well-received and the product is selling well.

I'm excited to continue my work until coming to MIT in the fall! Please let me know if you have any other questions about what I've been doing.



Post Script

As usual, I've left a lot out. In particular, I would like to make it clear that I've received a tremendous amount of help from my coworkers. I am unable to point to a project I worked on entirely by myself. There are too many to thank but each of my coworkers has helped me grow as a programmer and as a person. If you're reading this: thank you!

I'd also like to mention that the most interesting part of this experience by far has been seeing what it's like for a startup to get acquired. My intuition tells me that no two acquisitions are the same, but this one has been exciting. Sure, it's been frustrating in some ways, but on the whole I consider it a success. The topic deserves its own post; maybe I'll publish one soon?