Vistar Media | Software Engineer - Technical.ly

Software Engineer

Vistar Media |  Philadelphia, PA | Dev / Eng

Job Description
Company Culture
Technical.ly Coverage

Some of our Arsenal

    • Scala
    • Python
    • Java
    • Go
    • CoffeeScript / TypeScript
    • Spark
    • PostgreSQL / TypeScript
    • Amazon Web Services
    • React and Redux
    • Flask
    • Docker

On the Vistar Media engineering team, we never stop looking for our next addition. We’re kinda hoping that addition is you. We are located in Old City, Philadelphia.

We’re a startup with an established, well-tested codebase, but we aren’t afraid to shake things up. We want to solve our problems with the right tools, whether they’re cutting-edge, or tried-and-true. We’re happy to explore new territory (who isn’t?), but we won’t jump on something shiny for the sake of it. Our engineers work with many different languages and platforms every day. If this gets you excited, we’d love to hear from you.

You Must:

  • Be well versed in at least one compiled, one interpreted language and one web framework
  • Have extensive experience with distributed systems
  • Have coded a non-trivial system soup to nuts. CSS, persistence, deployment, et cetera
  • Understand Linux to a degree where you’d be comfortable admin’ing a fleet of boxes
  • Be able to design and implement a large, efficient codebase
  • Be able to ballpark the computational complexity of a snippet of code
  • Understand HTTP
  • Be able to decompose business requirements into a set of RESTful resources
  • Be opinionated about your tools. Love Angular? Great. Hate Angular? Great.
  • Have experience with the full stack. From the database to CSS.
  • Be able to both identify and implement a practical test suite

It sure would be nice if you:

  • Have run a system on EC2
  • Know how to decompose an algorithm to map/combine/reduce phases
  • Have worked with language abstractions like CoffeeScript and less
  • Have experience coaxing functional requirements out of business requirements
  • Know right where to look when your friend has messed up their .htaccess

We’ll consider baking you a cake if you:

  • Have experience in the advertising industry
  • Write a practical test suite for your personal code and push it to a CI server
  • Like using tools like Git Flow to organize releases, features, and fixes
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How would you describe Vistar Media’s office culture?

Everybody's so talented and passionate about their work, and it's really motivating to be surrounded by that kind of energy. It's obviously pretty quiet, given that it's all engineers, but it's definitely a productive environment. Everyone's very friendly and always willing to lend a hand or point you in the right direction if you have questions. We have catered lunches from popular local spots like HipCityVeg and Han Dynasty twice a week, and regular happy hours and outings. Everyone's extremely friendly, but at the same time it's very focused.

How do Vistar Media employees get involved in the community?

We sponsor conferences every year, like LibertyJS and the Women in Tech Summit. This year we're also sponsoring Philly ETE. We get involved with local meetups as well. Normally it's just paying for beer or pizza and having a couple of team members go, but this year we're trying to host more events. We're hosting an event with Code for Philly in April that we're really excited about. A lot of the staff on their own time go to different tech events in the city — even the ones that we're not sponsoring.

Are there any special Vistar Media traditions?

We recently started doing an annual company off-site event. The past two years it was in New York, but it's probably going to be in Philly next year. That's when we fly in everybody from around the world who is a Vistar employee and we all get together for about two days to hear all the company updates, plans and the vision for the year. Then, after a day of presentations, we have a company outing. This year we went to a place called Spin in New York, which is a ping-pong bar. Each summer each of the offices will have a summer party, so, for example, the New York office does a beach day.

Are there any fun events for new hires when they come on board?

On their first day or within their first two weeks our new hires will go up to the New York office for a full day of onboarding and meeting the directors of all the different teams. They learn what they do, and then there's a happy hour event. In their individual offices, they'll do a group outing with their respective team.

How do the remote teams work together?

We have regular meetings two to three times a week over Google Hangouts, and then we're always IMing each other over GChat. Luckily, we don't really have any problems with it. If anything ever has to be moved, it's easy enough. We've gotten the hang of it at this point. We also encourage engineers to go up to the New York office occasionally to interact with members of other teams.

What would you say are the major qualities you look for in applicants?

Somebody who craves learning. Someone who has a true passion for engineering. Most of the time, the people on our team have their own personal projects that they're working on outside of work. They just show that true passion for coding. Definitely being humble. Not afraid to ask questions, not afraid to admit if they don't know something rather than just trying to “fake it 'til you make it.” Technically, we look for well-rounded full-stack engineers who might not necessarily have experience with every single tool that we use, but who could come in and pick up our codebase pretty quickly.

Do you look for candidates who specialize in a certain language?

Not really. In fact, the freedom of language choice and coding ability is a compelling plus to working at Vistar. Most of the time, the bare minimum that people need to be well-versed in would be Java, JavaScript and Python. Right now, we are kind of keeping our eyes peeled for somebody who has extensive experience with React.

How do coworkers work together throughout the day?

There’s a lot of collaboration. If people have questions they will just get up and go to somebody's desk, so you'll see people huddled around a computer or in a conference room trying to solve a problem throughout the day.

What is the workflow like?

Mondays are spent in planning for the most part. We work in weekly sprints, so throughout the week we have standup every day around noon. Then people are just picking up tickets and working based on priority. On Friday around 4 o’clock, everyone will gather around and do presentations about what they worked on during the week. Vistar Media’s “Code Review” is an important part of the daily tech workflow. Every line of code is reviewed by at least two people before being cut, an impressive feat considering that Vistar Media has a one-week development cycle. That means almost every week, employees are working on a new set of code or new product.

How does Vistar Media view hiring recent graduates?

In the past couple years we've had a lot of luck hiring pretty junior engineers who have either come right out of school or have only been out of school for a year or two. For them, coming in and working with our more senior developers has been really helpful. We've seen these younger people come in and really quickly rise to be some of our top performers.

How does Vistar exemplify long-term growth and success in the ad tech industry?

Our founders and top leadership know this industry inside and out. They are at the point where they can anticipate problems and solve them before they even come up. They are super open with the rest of us, both with our successes and if we are having any kind of setbacks or certain departments are struggling to meet a goal. We have monthly company updates with a Q&A portion, and people can anonymously submit questions. Our CEO is usually the one answering them live, and there's really nothing that's off limits. They're very open and they're not shy to talk about any concerns.

What’s at the core of Vistar Media’s business model?

From analytics to product, and across all support teams, we put technology first. Vistar’s end-to-end programmatic ecosystem provides unrivaled scale, built for the complexities of OOH media. Using advanced movement data analysis, we provide targeting, seamless activation and measurement of audience-based buying across out-of-home and mobile media.

In the past seven years, Vistar engineers have developed software solutions in a multitude of coding languages (our team is 'agnostic to tools' and will learn any language necessary for the task at hand), addressing the needs of both the buy side and sell side of digital out-of-home media. From refining our geotemporal data analysis to improving our programmatic ad exchange, Vistar’s engineers are constantly tackling new challenges.

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