8 Things You Missed at Grace Hopper 2018

We’re all settled back into our offices and finally getting a chance to reflect on our inspiring weekend in Houston for the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration. If you’ve never attended GHC, just imagine thousands of women clad in sneakers and t-shirts running between panel sessions, career booths, and coffee meetups. With 20,000 attendees, things can get a little chaotic and it’s easy to miss small details from the week. These are the eight things you might of missed from GHC 18.


1. The energizing keynote from Jessica O. Matthews who tested out her Pulse jump rope invention in heels. Girl’s got major skills.

2. Forget headshots, how about latte art with your face!

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3. HomeAway Senior Data Analyst, Nikole Phillips’ first time at GHC and getting an incredible selfie with Anita Hill.

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4. Sock giveaway at the HomeAway networking lounge! Because who doesn’t need socks with birdhouses on them?

5. HomeAway Software Engineer, Kuldeep Chowan, sharing his experience about going serverless during his panel discussion.

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6. So. Much. Swag. From custom printed phone cases to tech tacos, there was no leaving Grace Hopper empty-handed.

7. Exploring the digital map of people’s dream travel destinations at the Expedia Group booth.

8. Meeting up with friends from other Austin companies like Indeed! Grace Hopper is the perfect opportunity to catch up with people in your network.

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How My Job Helped me Score the Ultimate Gig

In 2016, Pete Parsons visited the HomeAway London office and took an unexpected weekend trip to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The festival was simply mind-blowing and returning to Edinburgh became Pete’s ultimate goal. With a little help from friends and Team HomeAway, he performed at the festival two years later. Pete is sharing how staying passionate about your hobbies can help you achieve a better work-life balance while keeping your personal brand on point.

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Q: What is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and how did you get to perform?

Pete: “It started when I visited the HomeAway office in London for a couple weeks and I heard about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from a coworker so I decided to go for the weekend. It’s the largest performing arts festival in the world with over 3,500 performances in August and after that visit I knew I wanted to be part of it. The application process was pretty easy, I just had to pitch my performance to sponsors and wait to see who would pick it up.”

Q: How did you get your start in improv and theater?

Pete: “I’ve been doing comedy since I was in high school and I’ve continued acting in my free time. The comedy show I have now is called “Secret Mountain,” it has a “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” flair, but my show is geared toward adult humor. I also teach improv locally. I ran a few workshops at the McCombs Business School at the University of Texas, Austin and I led a session with our President’s Apprentice group at HomeAway. It was cool getting to share the art of improv with people at HomeAway because I feel like there are many positive elements that can help within the workplace.”


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Q: Was it difficult coordinating international travel for a large group?

Pete: “It was a little difficult to coordinate because I had to bring multiple casts from Chicago and the Austin improv community because not everyone has the same number of vacation days. We also had to raise funds to help with transportation and lodging while we were there. My HomeAway team was very supportive with that endeavor. They donated to my fundraiser, hung up “Secret Mountain” posters around the office, and even came to some of my local performances.”

Q: That’s great your team was supportive! Were you nervous about being away from work for two weeks?

Pete: “My manager was supportive from the beginning and never discouraged me for taking that amount of time off. I even offered to work remotely and they were like absolutely not you’re on vacation!”

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Q: What was the highlight of your experience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Pete: “The highlight for me was just actually accomplishing my goal and getting to the festival. When we plugged in everything for our rehearsal and they started playing the theme song for our show it really hit me that I made it. In the beginning of the week there were just a few people in the audience, but as the week went on more people began to show up and some even came back for repeat performances.”

Q: How did HomeAway and your team play a role in this experience?

Pete: “Without a doubt this would not have been possible without the resources HomeAway offered me such as sending me on my first work trip to London two years ago and being able to take that much time off. It was so nice being able to take two weeks off and not have to think about work at all. I feel like I’m encouraged to pursue my passions in and out of the office. By the end of the festival, I was ready to return to work and my normal schedule. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my stories with my teammates!”

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Q: Any advice for someone who wants to take their side hustle or hobby to the next level while working a full-time job?

Pete: “It's important to use your vacation days to enjoy culture and immerse yourself more in your hobby. If you can’t take an extended amount of time off, just take a break and go to an art exhibit, see a local play, or attend an event that’s related to your hobby. I highly recommend going to this festival though if possible, it's truly a fascinating global event. It's great to see so many countries coming together to celebrate art.

You can find Pete at Fallout Theater on Saturday nights performing with improv group “Sweet Lightning.”

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The One Benefit HomeAway Parents Love

All new parents know the excitement, anxiety, fear and lack of sleep that comes with bringing a baby into the world. Team HomeAway is made up of a lot of parents and one of their favorite benefits to talk about is HomeAway’s generous parental leave policy. Alanna Dayton, our Culture & Inclusion Specialist, just returned from nearly five months of maternity leave and she’s ready to share her story.


Q: What was your maternity leave like with your first child at your previous company?

AD: My manager and team were supportive, but the company wasn’t progressive when it came to parental leave. I was able to take off 12 weeks total, but six of those weeks were unpaid. It was definitely a debate about what to do, but I also thought to myself I only have this time once. My husband and I had to discuss if we were in a place financially that allowed us to take that time off. It made me realize that many people are faced with that decision and some aren’t as fortunate to be in a position to take that time. Add in medical bills and new baby costs and it can be tough to pull off.

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Q: What are your views on parental leave in the general workplace?

AD: I think there is a lot of confusion about it and not many time-off benefits at some companies. After my first leave, it was important to me to find a company that supported parents during this life change. I feel lucky that I was able to find a great job where this benefit was available, and wasn’t in a position where I had to make a choice between spending time with my new baby or going back to work earlier for financial reasons. I have empathy for those who aren’t as fortunate, and have to go back to work earlier than they desire.. At six weeks I could have gone back to work, but the sleep deprivation alone would have made me less productive since the baby was still only sleeping 2-3 hours at a time!


Q: What was your maternity leave like with your second child since you’ve been at HomeAway?

AD: Coming back to work was easier because I knew what to expect having been through the transition before. What was different though was the extra time above the typical 6-12 weeks that is common at most companies. That extra time allowed me to feel more refreshed and energized as I prepared for my first day back. I was able to experience more milestones, and be there for those “first moments” with my baby Sam. Of course there were a couple of tears my first day back when I said goodbye to him in the morning, but I was fine once I got to my desk!

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Q: Now that you’ve experienced two maternity leaves, what are your recommendations to companies who don’t have a solid parental leave program in place?

AD: Talk to women or other parents who have gone through this. At HomeAway, no matter how you have a child you get 12 weeks of time off. There’s no doubt that it’s a big investment, but I think it shows in the culture at HomeAway where children and other life events are not only supported, but celebrated. Comparing photos of my baby at three months old and five months old, I noticed a difference in him physically and recognized how special it was that I got to be there for that extra time. For example, some of my favorite moments during my leave were eating breakfast together with both of my kids. It may seem simple, but I realized how much I value a strong work-life balance and being completely present with my family when the work day is done.

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Want to learn more about the benefits and perks of working at HomeAway? Check out our Glassdoor profile!

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Team HomeAway’s Take on the World Cup

The World Cup may be over and France fans are rejoicing, but Team HomeAway is sad to see the festivities come to an end. For the last month employees around the world celebrated their favorite teams in unique and passionate ways. Here’s a peek into how our football (or soccer) loving employees watched the World Cup.

1. Team HomeAway Sydney team built the ultimate “Snackadium.”

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2. The Partner Success team in Madrid toasted to France after the big win.

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3. VP of HR, Ana Mitrasevic, and Social Media Ad Specialist, Diana Nogueira, posing for a friendly rivalry photo during the Serbia v Brazil game.

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4. Getting crafty and making a flag double as a cape.

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5. Taking the game to the next level with a World Cup foosball tournament.

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6. When the U.S. isn’t in the World Cup you need a team to root for. The marketing team from Austin rooting for Iceland during their visit overseas.

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8. Taking an espresso break during work, but staying committed to watching the games!

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9. The Portugal fandom is strong in our global offices.

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10.  Decorations on point in our HomeAway London office.

Want to join Team HomeAway or learn more about our benefits and perks? Visit our careers page!

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7 Ways HomeAway Celebrated Pride Month

The HomeAway offices are buzzing every June with tons of Pride events. While we strive to make every month just as colorful, our HomeAway Pride Affinity Group just naturally shines brighter during Pride Month. Here are a few ways we celebrated this year:

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1. We hosted one day of the Maven Youth Tech Camp in Austin at our Domain office. Maven Youth Camp works with LGBTQ+ youth to provide a pathway to a tech career. Members from HomeAway Pride volunteered and shared their career stories with Maven campers.

 Maven Youth campers and HomeAway volunteers kicking off the day at the Domain.

Maven Youth campers and HomeAway volunteers kicking off the day at the Domain.

2. The second-annual Startout Hackout Weekend, the only LGTBQ-themed hackout, was held at our Domain office with over 85 attendees from around the world. Hackers got to bond over paddleboarding and happy hour and then dive into the logistics of actually creating a startup.

3. It wouldn’t be Pride Month without rainbow desserts! Layne Box and Gretel Perera cut into a rainbow cake in Austin and Holly Wolford enjoyed colorful cupcakes in Bellevue.  

4. Employees learned fun facts about LGTBQ rights advocates from our office wallboards (TVs that display announcements and news).

5. Our beloved birdhouse in Downtown Austin gets a makeover during Pride Month! It’s hard to miss the rainbow lights when you’re driving to and from the office.

 Photo courtesy of Lenny Tropiano, Fly the Sky Drone Productions

Photo courtesy of Lenny Tropiano, Fly the Sky Drone Productions

6. This year HomeAway walked in the London Pride Parade for the first time! Layne Box, our Talent Acquisition Events Specialist and HomeAway Pride member, flew to London to help make it a success with custom Pride shirts and decorations. 

7. This year we also hosted our first internal “Be Yourself, Be Brave” LGTBQ panel in Austin and London where our employees talked about inclusion in the workplace.

“The Be Brave panel was a rare opportunity to shine a light on a taboo topic in the workplace. Everyone who attended came with an open mind and was eager to learn. While panel questions were personal and tough to discuss at times, I believe we all walked away with a greater understanding of one another and will continue to keep building a more inclusive culture here at HomeAway.” - Juliana Leon, HomeAway Pride Leader

Learn more about the HomeAway Pride Affinity Group and join Team HomeAway in the Austin Pride Parade on August 11!

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Solving Killer Problems from Customer Support to Product: Tyler’s Career Story

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Tyler’s career trajectory has been anything but ordinary. His first job in tech was at a startup called Glad to Have You in 2012, which was acquired by HomeAway a couple years later. He started in a customer support role helping property managers use and understand our software, but his real passion was in engineering. Solving customer issues and hearing product feedback gave him a taste of problem-solving, but he was ready to think bigger and take his skills to the next level.

 

Q: What was your day-to-day like in customer support at Glad to Have You?

“I was on the phone taking customer calls and sharing the feedback with management. I’ve always had a passion for software development so I’d ask our engineers about how we could implement new tech or solve some of the customer problems I was hearing about. I transformed my role into a more technical customer support position.”

 

Q: Once Glad to Have You was acquired by HomeAway, how did your job change?

“Even though I was a Customer Experience agent my first six months at HomeAway, I spent most of my time testing products and monitoring the service health under the HomeAway Mobile team, basically giving a product a thumbs up or thumbs down depending on if it worked the way it was supposed to. I always thought there was more to the scope of my role though. I think that’s what differentiated me from the other Quality Engineers, I started thinking about the design and becoming aware of the customer’s experience using our product.”

 Tyler and his team at a Product offsite event. 

Tyler and his team at a Product offsite event. 

Q: As a self-taught engineer, what tools did you use to learn the tech skills needed for a product role?

“Brute force ha! It was tough at first to learn on my own since I didn’t go to school for engineering or design, but I had a lot of training from experienced engineers on my team. They would tell me why something did or didn’t work and then they would show me how we could make it better. I did networking architecture, web design, and an online coding academy. I also took advantage of the training courses that HomeAway offers through Lynda.com. I found the real value was in learning about existing products and how HomeAway customers are using them. My philosophy is it doesn’t matter if you take hundreds of coding classes or read books about engineering, your knowledge isn’t valuable until you use it to solve a problem you care about.”

Q: Now you’re solving problems all the time as a Product Manager. How did land your current role on the Product team?

“It was really the willingness of my team to break down what my job was on paper and compare it to the work I was actually doing every day. I became a resource to my teammates and they started coming to me with technical and product questions, even though I was primarily resolving issues as a Quality Engineer. The culture at HomeAway is so forward-thinking, my team recognized that I wanted to think more about the customer’s experience and why the business made certain decisions. So I interviewed for the opening as a Product Manager and got the job, I’ve been on the Product team for six months now! It wouldn’t have been possible without the support from my team. They recognized my strengths and passion for the product to help me get where I am now.”

Q: What’s one project you’re working on?

“I’m focused on the traveler’s stay experience, so from the second a user hits ‘confirm booking’ on the HomeAway website or app, I’m handling things from that point forward. That includes pre-arrival and post-stay information. One problem I’m solving is collecting essential stay information (door codes, parking, directions, etc.) to create a more structured check-in process for travelers. I’d like to figure out a way to make it automated so it’s easier for our owners and travelers. I listen to customer support calls once a month to stay plugged into the problems both travelers and partners are encountering and this was a problem that stood out to me. Travelers have to be able to actually get into the house to enjoy their vacation!”

Q: Has your customer support experience helped you as a product manager?

"My role in customer support allowed me to think about the users in addition to the business needs and what is technically possible. Now, I’m thinking about what value our product brings to the customer. Product managers can sometimes become hyper-focused on business needs to the detriment of the customer. I view things through the lens of what the customer wants in addition to the business needs and I think it results in a better product. There’s a happy medium between being customer-centric and understanding what the business can actually do. I’m proud that I can almost immediately identify how something will impact a customer and our engineering team at the same time."

Q: What’s your advice to people in customer support or a non-technical position who want to transition into a technical position?

“Find a problem that you’re passionate about and find a mentor who’s willing to help you. I wouldn’t be nearly as close to the position I’m in now if I didn’t have those two things.”

 

Want to join Team HomeAway or check out other cool perks we offer? Visit our careers page!

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These Interns are Having the Best Summer Ever

Our first group of Partner Success interns recently started in Madrid and London and let’s just say they are in for a wild summer. Ok, maybe not “bachelorette party wild,” but there will definitely be some unique learning opportunities mixed in with travel and other fun events. One of their first assignments was to interview HomeAway President, John Kim, and pick his brain on the future of e-commerce.

Vicky W., a Partner Success Intern in London said, “The interview with JK was truly amazing and inspiring. He is full of knowledge and very open and truthful about the direction that HomeAway is going. It was an honor to meet him and I am convinced there is so much to learn from him.”

Naomi V., in Madrid agreed and added that "it set the tone for the rest of our internship.”

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Louise R. is an intern in London currently finishing her bachelor's degree at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.  She said, "It was an amazing opportunity to meet and interview JK. During the interview I got a lot of insight about his strategic view on digital disruption, which is very useful input for my thesis. I really appreciate that he was very open and honest.”

Louise took a risk and accepted the internship without ever visiting London, but she knew it was the right fit.

When asked why she chose an internship in a different country she said, “I really like to be challenged and go after new opportunities, and this internship gives me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. What I enjoy most about HomeAway is the environment and the culture, it’s not something I’m used to in the traditional finance world.”

 Louise exploring Notting Hill.

Louise exploring Notting Hill.

Louise is a sixth generation jeweler and her family owns a 200-year-old jewelry store back home in Holland. They encouraged her to pursue new experiences outside of the family business and she’s learning a lot about e-commerce at her university and HomeAway.

Even though she just recently started her internship, her public speaking skills are already improving. Just last week Louise flew to Madrid to give a presentation in front of 200 HomeAway employees and she called it “a great achievement!”

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Rafaela F., another Partner Success Intern in Madrid, is fully embracing Openness (one of our core values) and says it’s what makes coming to work so fun.

“What I enjoy most about working at HomeAway are the daily opportunities to improve myself within a motivational and international environment. They provide us with a diverse work structure and besides that, they are truly making it a ‘HomeAway’ from home.”

We love our interns around the world and we can’t wait to share more of their stories with you. Stay tuned for content this summer about the HomeAway Internship Program and HomeAway University!

Are you interested in interning with HomeAway? Visit our careers page to explore open opportunities.