Engineering Team at Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame helps its millions of members improve their credit wellness with free end-to-end tools that help members manage their credit and loans better.

Job Openings at Credit Sesame

Top Engineering Values

Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
  • EQ > IQ

    We avoid hiring brilliant jerks at all costs.

    We’re a collaborative team, and as we grow we want to continue fostering an environment where there’s truly no such thing as a stupid question, and where teammates feel comfortable coming forward with ideas.


    Why do we value EQ so highly? For one, we’re a service organization that works cross-functionally with other teams. It’s important to us that our engineers understand the unique challenges of each department we work with and the position each teammate is coming from in order to provide the best solution.


    We’re also a mission-driven company with one of our core company values being “Focus on the Member.” We know when our members see improvements in their credit, their quality of life can improve dramatically. Having naturally empathetic engineers who intuitively build tools that keep the end user in mind is crucial, and we look for teammates who consistently ask themselves “who is in front of the screen that we’re helping?”


    Second, we’re trying to promote talent from within as we scale, and we want our engineering talent to grow with us into management and leadership roles. Valuing EQ highly helps us bring in engineers with the right people skills to eventually lead a team.


    Assessing for EQ is built into our interview process with non-technical questions. For example, we’ve previously asked candidates to tell us about a challenging or significant achievement. What we’re looking for, in addition to their own contributions to that achievement, is how they viewed their role within the team, and how they collaborated to accomplish their goals. We also conduct reference checks to learn more about our future teammates and how they work in a team.


    While we value EQ highly, we don’t compromise on knowledge or technical skills in the process. Instead, we look for both qualities.


  • Rapidly Growing Team

    Over the next 6 months, around half of our hires will be on the engineering team.

    Our motivation for hiring quickly is simple: while our current team can sustain our business, we need more resources to accelerate it.


    Especially as we grow in departments such as marketing and product, we need a bigger engineering team to support some of our newer initiatives. For instance, we’re hiring over the next 6 months largely to support our core product team. It’s important for the engineering department to work in parallel, to create a better experience for our members with more tailored product offerings and a more responsive site.

  • Fast-Paced Environment

    Our company is around 100 teammates, and we operate as a startup, where time-to-market is very important.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean longer hours or nights and weekends – we don’t want to work with urgency or in an unsustainable go-go-go environment where our engineers can’t have room to breathe (see work/life balance section below!) – but the pace is still fast enough where we can experiment with interesting ideas and still push out new features to production in a timely manner to delight our members.


    This ties into our data-driven culture (see data-driven section below!), where we have a quick ideation cycle to watch how our users interact with different ideas. Depending on the response we get from that data, our engineering team has to be fast-paced in order to line up with the findings and quickly deliver.


    In terms of workflow, we have 1-2 week agile sprints where we work cross-functionally with other teams to complete a sprint cycle. We tackle projects iteratively and push code out live faster than the fintech industry norm, which is around 3-4 weeks. See the agile methodologies section below for more details on our workflow.

  • High Employee Retention

    Meet Pradeep, Pandu, and Wil – some of the engineering ‘OG’s’, who have been here as early as 2009, when Credit Sesame was founded!

    Why have they (and others) stayed so long? One of the reasons we believe our retention is so high is that our organization mission and vision have never changed, even since we first started out in 2009. We haven’t pivoted or changed business models; we’ve just tailored and refined the original mission and vision. As one of our engineers said, “It feels like you’re on a ship that’s sailing to a certain port, not just adrift in the middle of the ocean!”


    As a company, and within the engineering department, we’re a listening organization – a grassroots organization where ideas are welcome – and where we get teammates involved to solve interesting and challenging problems. Feedback is very welcome and we believe this empowerment translates to retention, especially since we’re in an environment where management is willing to listen to all ideas and problems are never solved in isolation.


    We believe engineering is a science but also an art, as you need room to play around with ideas. Being able to listen to ideas with freedom to operate is important to us, so we like to provide our engineers with a wide sandbox.


    This keeps the work interesting and exciting and makes our teammates want to stay here. We pride ourselves in being able to suggest and bring newer technologies into the mix. We’re nimble enough of an organization to have room for flexibility to use different tools and aren’t restricted to legacy tools that may not be the right ones for a given task. This is empowering to our teammates and gives them chances to learn and grow.

  • Committed to Personal Growth

    We’re curious, motivated individuals and we prioritize training and opportunities for continued learning and professional growth.

    For instance, we send teammates to workshops and conferences on a fairly regular basis – we’ve even sent people to Istanbul, Vegas (see photo below), and more. We also source experts or outside consultants to help us internally with best practices. For example, we’ve engaged with Amazon and Elasticsearch and have had experts come in for sessions to give us recommendations. During these sessions, everyone on the team is invited, can ask questions, and view the opportunity as an open consulting time. For us as a group, it’s an opportunity to get our work vetted externally. And for our teammates as individuals, it opens the door to engage with experts.


    On a personal growth/mentorship level, we encourage all managers to have 1:1s with direct reports divided into 3 parts:


    1. How can the manager help them avoid roadblocks in their current role?
    2. OKRs
    3. Personal growth — what does the teammate want to do this year/next year?

    By understanding what each individual wants in terms of their career progression, we can give them opportunities on-the-job. For instance, we had an engineer who was interested in technical architecture leadership. We gave that person a project where the manager was a spectator at meetings and the teammate was driving and articulating architecture ideas.

  • Data-Driven

    Every engineer works with at least one analyst.

    We love experimentation and letting the data tell us what our members like best. This allows us to quickly ideate, come up with hypotheses of what we want to test, and see how our users respond. Everything we do is based on analytics derived from these experiments. For example, we use Mixpanel and Optimizely to do things like A/B testing on our site.


    As a result, we work very closely with the Analytics department. We currently embed an analyst in every product team, so every engineer works directly with at least one analyst. While each team is responsible for deriving analytics and making decisions based on their data, it is our policy that everyone has access to all analytics at Credit Sesame.


    We look at data like click-through rates, how many users are completing a particular funnel, and see what resonates with our members. Before we start any experiment, we have strict guidelines around defining success criteria.


    Even internally within our department, we use other data-driven metrics to make decisions. While the product team focuses on the business value, the engineering department considers things like tickets resolved, tickets completed in our sprint backlog, and other work productivity metrics. This helps us improve our turnaround time for tickets, and tells us how many tickets we can take on over the course of a week. We evaluate these metrics during sprint retrospectives.


    Note: This is not a stock photo :)

  • Uses Agile Methodologies

    Most of our engineering teams use scrum (though our IT team, for instance, uses kanban).

    Every engineering team has their sprint planning every 2 weeks. During these planning sessions, the product, engineering, and analytics teams look at the backlog and determine prioritization and focus areas depending on current needs.


    Every day, we have a scrum meeting for 10-20 minutes where we touch base on where we’re at within the sprint. We keep these feedback loops short so no one is blocked, and we divvy our work into small, 2-pizza scrum teams. We follow our sprints with a retro every 2 or 4 sprints to recap our work. While there is no official scrum master, there is someone who will assume the role of the scrum master for each sprint.


    We also work hard to get new hires up to speed quickly with our workflow and most end up contributing to the code base within 2-3 weeks. Within 45 days, they can usually start looking at recent tickets. For instance, here’s how it might look when we onboard engineers:


    • First, we provide our new hires with engineering training to go over the workflow and where they get tickets, what our stages mean, how we consider an engineer’s job to be complete, how we hand off code to production, and so forth. After they finish this training and any HR-related work, new hires meet with the heads of each engineering sub-team to get a sense of the teams within our engineering organization. The last step is to work directly with their new manager to do a deeper dive into the specifics of their work environment, architecture, and business flows.
    • Once a new hire is properly onboarded, we ease them into their work by giving them low-complexity tickets and slowly increase the complexity over time.

    One extra training we offer during onboarding is around the credit landscape. We don’t expect our engineers to come in with credit or financial literacy, and we can teach the terminology and key points they need to know to serve our members well. If they have the skills needed to do the job, and the passion to improve lives through improved credit, we can help bridge any knowledge gaps about the credit space!

  • Work/Life Balance

    We keep our work hours to 40 per week, and rarely exceed that.

    In terms of the actual work hours, we want our teams to include 10am-4pm in their working hours—we’re flexible and accommodating to those who like to shift earlier or later around that, but we have a group of engineers who work out of Lima, Peru and we like to have maximum overlap with their hours. Work on weekends is very minimal, and it doesn’t happen more than a few times per quarter.


    We don’t encourage working from home because we find a lot of productivity happens when we’re in-person. Teammates can choose whether they’d like to work out of our Mountain View or San Francisco office (some even work out of both depending on the day). That said, we’re supportive of ad-hoc work from home as needed! In the office, we also incorporate activities for balance.


    We also have a monthly engineering all-hands meeting and a monthly engineering mixer (see photo below). At these events, we acknowledge and celebrate our teammates’ accomplishments and get to know them outside of work.


    We have a diverse group of interesting people! Some of our teammates are musicians, who have played gigs that other members of our team have attended to support them. Others surf, and some go to events like ComicCon or Burning Man. We don’t expect our team to socialize outside of work, but we think it says something about our team dynamic that many of our teammates want to anyway. Many of our engineers also enjoy eating lunch together, so it’s great that our offices are both located near so many delicious restaurants!

Values

  • EQ > IQ
  • Rapidly Growing Team
  • Fast-Paced Environment
  • High Employee Retention
  • Committed to Personal Growth
  • Data-Driven
  • Uses Agile Methodologies
  • Work/Life Balance

Company Properties

  • B2C

Team Members

  • 5 Backend Engineers
  • 1 CTO
  • 11 Data Analysts and Scientists
  • 4 Frontend Engineers
  • 4 Full Stack Engineers
  • 11 IT, QA, Build & Release, Security Engineers
  • 1 Mobile Developer
  • 1 Program Manager
  • 2 System Architects
  • 1 VP of Engineering

Vacation Policy

In addition to 10 paid holidays, we have an Open PTO policy, which means there’s no specific amount of vacation time. Our teammates take the time off they need to stay happy, healthy, and productive at work.

Tech Stack

Outside of our data teams, our engineering teams use Java, JBoss, CDI/Spring, Freemarker, Jquery, Knockout, SpringBoot, Redis Kinesis, Docker.


Our Data Engineering team uses Groovy, Redshift, AWS Data Pipeline, AWS Lambda, Cassandra, AWS Elastic Bean Stalk, Python, Docker.


Our Data Science team uses Python, Jupyter Notebook, SciKitLearn, Redshift, and Docker.

Interview Process

The first step in our interview process is to apply! You can do so here.

After that, we’ll reach out to you if there’s a fit to schedule a phone call to learn more about your background and your interest in Credit Sesame. Then there’s a hiring manager phone call, followed by an in-person onsite meeting to get to know you and more deeply understand your interest in and qualifications for the position.