This past May, the Yext Technology team ventured up from New York and Virginia to the beautiful coastal town of Ogunquit, Maine for our Spring 2019 Offsite! We stayed at the Cliff House Resort for several days of learning, hackathons, and team bonding. From lighting talks to lobster dinners, we enjoyed our time together in Maine and returned to our offices the following week ready to hit the ground running with our new knowledge from the sessions.
Learning is Good
One of the main goals of our offsites is to expand our knowledge by hearing from and working with a variety of people from across the Technology department. Through training sessions, tech talks, and hackathons, we’re able to break out of our day-to-day routines and explore a variety of topics.
We kicked off each day of sessions with overview talks and quick, five-minute “lightning talks,” hearing from over 20 different Yexters about topics from all across the board. We tuned in to learn about how to be better at making decisions, listened to members of our Ops team discuss the intricacies of working with Google as a publisher, heard about plans for the future of our platform’s architecture, and even got a lesson on how to 3D-print a bunny by hand.
After listening to the talks, it was time to get hands-on with acceptance test training—Matt Bowman led us through some Selenium best practices. We then got down to business with the biggest project of the offsite—the hackathon. Each of our hackathon teams are free to work on whatever interests them. Some projects aim to improve our day-to-day development, via process or platform improvements. Others are purely for fun, such as detecting someone’s mood (and stress levels) from a video.
During this offsite, we saw roughly 17 different and amazing hackathon projects. A few of our favorites included:
- Some Sweet Honeypots
We added and exposed a few honeypots on our network, allowing us to log and monitor what an attacker would want to do if they managed to get into our systems.
- Interview Buddy
Scheduling interviews is harder than you think—our HR team currently goes through a 17 step process that includes planning around interviewer availability, handling reschedules, and ensuring that interviews are distributed evenly amongst the available interviewers. Interview Buddy helps automate all of this, making life easier for HR.
A riff on our NYC office location and 23andMe, this project visualized the numerous mentor-mentee relationships within Yext engineering over the past several years.
Food, Fun, & Friends Are Also Good
An offsite wouldn’t be complete without a chance to spend some quality time together and enjoy each other’s company outside of the office. We concluded our first day of travel and learning with a bonfire by the ocean and a lobster bake. When in Maine!
Before heading back to New York and Virginia on Friday, we had the chance to explore the local area, taking in the breathtaking landscape and trying some quintessential Maine dishes.
We couldn’t get enough of the cliffs surrounding the resort. Groups hiked along the water and enjoyed the views. Some brave (and arguably crazy) souls even jumped into the very cold water, getting the full experience.
Meanwhile indoors, some of us decided to put our artistic skills to the test and paint a local scene while enjoying brunch and mimosas. It’s safe to say these engineers have some talents beyond the computer!
All in all, our trip to Maine turned out to be another successful Yext offsite, full of learning, eating delicious local food, and bonding with all of our teammates. We look forward to the next offsite in the fall and the chance to be together again in a new and exciting location!