Ellen Yu Liu ’15, AppNexus

Ellen-Yu-LiuDay 1:

The two other Princeterns and I met up in the morning at the Dinky and took the 9 o’clock train to New York City. I’ve heard a lot about AppNexus and all the great, innovative things they’ve accomplished in the short five years they’ve been established, so I was incredibly excited to meet the people and hear a bit more about the company. The AppNexus office was located in the Flatiron District in New York City, which was beautiful and bustling when we got there.

When we got to the office, we were let into a nice, open lobby, and greeted by Ms. Dale Levine, the campus representative for AppNexus. She took us on a tour of the office, which was two floors and really spacious and modern. There were no cubicles, because AppNexus believed in having open offices to allow open communication. Most of the workers seemed really lively and absorbed in what they were doing. It was obvious that AppNexus had quite a large staff and a really young environment. Afterward we joined the line at the cafeteria, which was a clean, modern open space, to grab some Cuban food that they had catered for lunch. Afterwards, we met with a few of the workers who introduced us to what AppNexus did and what made the company so successful. AppNexus is essentially known for specializing in real-time online advertising, and has been leading the way in it for a while.

During my two day experience, I got a nice exposure to all threeLiu main areas of work within AppNexus. First, I met with Michael Maag ‘09, who was project manager of EA (Enterprise Apps) portfolio under the Product team. He explained to me his job and the function of the Product team, which was essentially to produce and support innovative products, and offered me great advice for working for AppNexus. He said the thing that thrilled him most about AppNexus is being able to be involved in something he really cares about and knowing that whatever he’s doing is having an actual impact in the field. At such a young age, he has already been engaged in projects he really likes, and he loves his fellow employees and how laid back the atmosphere is. To exemplify how quirky and modern the office truly was, all the rooms on the fourth floor were named after superheroes and the ones on the fifth floor were named after basketball players.

I had a really fantastic first day at AppNexus, and it made me readjust my mindset for how office work should be. The people I had talked to were all incredibly intelligent and interesting. I would love to someday work at a place like AppNexus.

Day 2:

Today marked day 2 of my Princeternship at AppNexus, and I have already found it easier to navigate the office and I feel more comfortable with the workers. My day started with shadowing Richard Andrews ’10, who worked for the Global Services team. This team specializes in moving clients onto their technical platform and help them strategize ways to meet their goals. Even though he only started a few months ago, he already knows so much about the area and has taken on a lot of responsibility in his division. After shadowing him for a few hours, he let me sit in on a call with one of their clients. It was my first time sitting in on a client call, so it was interesting to see how AppNexus interacts with its clients and how they are very accommodating and eager to meet the needs of their clients.

After lunch, I joined Darnell Thompson from the Optimization team to hear more about what they did. Each team had their own assigned tasks they had to work on, and it seems that the Optimization team specifically dealt with working with a lot of data. Their job was to basically maximize their clients ROI by using optimization tools. I sat in on a meeting with the Optimization team, where they determined their goals for the quarter.

In this specific Princeternship, the amount of technological terms to learn was really overwhelming in the beginning, because there were so many abbreviations and specific tech terms that went into describing what AppNexus did. As soon as I was able to grasp one concept, we would rapidly advance on to something else. However, all the employees were incredibly helpful and patient with explaining various terms and concepts that we didn’t understand. AppNexus employees are also incredibly intelligent and high achieving. It was easy to tell that this was a really focused and motivated group that was committed to their jobs but also loved what they did. I also really liked that AppNexus has the feel of a start-up company but has the capabilities of an established company.  Overall, I had a really great time at my Princeternship, and I really want to thank all the Princeton alumni working at AppNexus and Miss Levine, the campus coordinator, for making this happen.