Paco Avila ’16, AppNexus

As I rode the train into New York City with my fellow Princeterns, I was excited for the day to come and unsure of what to expect.  After a quick subway ride from Penn Station, we had already arrived at AppNexus.  We passed though the glass doors and entered the lobby, and the orange and black color scheme made Princeton’s presence immediately apparent.  We were greeted by the University Recruiters, Stephanie Manning and Dale Levine, who then brought us on a tour of the office.  After only a few minutes, I could tell that AppNexus is an amazing place to work.  Paco Avila AppNexus Princeton AlumnThe entire office incorporates glass doors and lots of open space to ensure that it is a highly collaborative and comfortable workspace.  There are numerous kitchens filled with great snacks, high quality espresso makers, and even orange and black mugs.  AppNexus also has many quirky features that make it fun and exciting.  Rather than organizing their conference rooms by room number, AppNexus names their rooms after video games, famous scientists, and fictional characters.  Nearly every wall in the office also doubles as a white board, featuring anything from intricate charts to fun doodles.  After walking past the couch that the AppNexus founders sat on when they first thought of the idea for the company, we met in “Einstein,” where we received a crash course on AppNexus and the online advertising industry.  Zach Kwartler ‘11 got us up to speed on how AppNexus facilitates high-speed ad space bidding and handles terabytes of data daily, and then we split off into our first shadowing shifts of the day.

During my first shift, I shadowed Peter Yu ’13, a recent Princeton grad and a member of the DevOps team.  For the following hour, I watched as Peter helped his group build the foundation of AppNexus’ applications, which is an immense task requiring several different levels of coding teams.  Afterwards, we had lunch with the AppNexus Princeton alumni in “Battleship” where we met co-founder Brian O’Kelly ‘99, ate catered food with AppNexus’ own hot sauce, and laughed about all the Princeton antics that have taken place during our collective years as undergrads.  After lunch I got a chance to shadow Richard Andrews and Rob Hazan, two members of the AppNexus Global Services team.  During my final hours at AppNexus, I sat in on a phone meeting with AppNexians across the U.S., and then discussed with Richard and Rob their roles working with various big company clients.

Although my day at AppNexus was brief, it was an eye opening experience that gave me a glimpse into the workings of an amazing tech company.  AppNexus is a truly special place with a strong Princeton presence on top of that.  This opportunity was unforgettable, and I am extremely thankful for everyone who made it possible.