As my fellow Princeterns, Charles and Elle, and I entered the impressive office rise, we had no idea what to expect. However, what struck me first about AppNexus’ awesome office was that it proudly displayed the Princeton orange. I felt instantly at home. On the mini-tour, I was met with an open working environment that encouraged collaboration and socialization. There were neat little projects around the walls such as the birthday wall for employees, a timeline of AppNexus’ growth since its founding by two Princeton alums, and a polaroid wall of the recent adventures of AppNexians. I also can’t fail to mention the fully stocked kitchens with various snacks. The offices reflected the upbeat and high energy feel of the company, but what really made the experience special were the people.
Everyone that I met could be described by one word. Passionate. They were all so enthusiastic about their work and were glad to be there. The prospect of a fast-growing, dynamic industry had drawn them to AppNexus. Although many had not known what an ad-tech company was all about, they were all motivated to tackle the impressive technological challenges that AppNexus faced. Imagine maintaining an ad platform that facilitates hundreds of thousands of real-time bidding requests from advertisers in a single ad space on a loading webpage – all in the timescale of hundreds of milliseconds. Imagine maintaining and optimizing data servers that receive tens of terabytes of information daily. If that wasn’t enough, then there is also the issue of connecting with other ad-tech companies and smoothing transactions that occur between them. These were the problems that I was able to see being solved by the incredible young minds as I shadowed the product, optimization, and global services teams.
A brief overview of what I did in two days: I discovered how an ad exchange operates in a quick lesson over Cuban food. I sat in on a company meeting and saw how a deal with another business was made. I conversed with project managers about their current undertakings and saw how they approached problems. I saw how large scale databases were managed and reorganized to optimize efficiency. I met with the data team that crunched massive numbers into manageable trend graphs. I learned how a transaction failure was troubleshooted in real time. And lastly, I attended panel discussions about careers in general and practiced interviewing in a mini workshop. Needless to say, it was a mouthful, but I enjoyed every minute of it.