Fanatics, Boulder, and the Escape Room

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Have you ever ordered a sports jersey online? Have you ever sent your cousin a Patriot’s hat or Red Sox socks? Have you ever wondered where that sports team onesie you wear on Christmas morning came from? If you answered yes to any of those questions, chances are you have used Fanatics’ technology. This summer, I’m working as a software engineering intern at Fanatics, the global leader in licensed sports merchandise.  This is a pivotal moment for my team, Branded Engineering/Wholesale Services, because in the spring of 2017, Fanatics acquired Majestic, one of the largest wholesale athletic apparel companies in the US. We're charged with integrating the two companies’ systems – which requires an immense amount of problem solving and provides an exciting challenge – not to mention an almost twofold increase in workload!

To better understand what team members should expect over the next few months, my whole team gathered in Boulder, CO during the second week of my internship. Carly Levi, a fellow Fanatics’ intern and rising junior at Duke, and I traveled to Boulder on our first ever business trip! Fanatics’ office in Boulder hosts the majority of the Branded Engineering Team members and sits in the middle of Boulder, surrounded by great restaurants and even better views. During our meetings, Carly and I heard presentations from all the team members as they discussed what projects they had been working on, the technologies they had been using, and how each person could get involved or use such programs in the future. This not only gave us a better understanding of the team’s projects as a whole, but also enabled us to create great relationships with all the members of our team, regardless of where they were based.

On one especially long day that involved seven hours of meetings, the managers had arranged for all of the team members to participate in an Escape Room Challenge. Following our meetings, the whole team went to Boulder’s Escape Room and split into two groups to compete in the two different rooms. I had never participated in this type of activity and was initially nervous that our group wouldn’t complete the challenge (which would result in the other group gloating the entire night). However, it was amazing to see how quickly so many different people, with so many different mindsets and ways of approaching problems came together to work as a team. It was easy to see that each person in the room was an engineer and a high-level problem solver. As soon as one person was unsuccessful in his or her approach, another person had an alternative suggestion. We escaped the room in about forty minutes--not including when our fellow employee picked the lock just five minutes into the game (only the second person in the Escape Room’s history to do so). Given that 85% of all participants are unable to escape in the allotted sixty minutes, we were very pleased with our efforts and the bonding experience we had all shared.

Back in San Mateo at Fanatics, I am writing code for microservices pertaining to the internal wholesale system and learning Go and Sequel. I have very much enjoyed getting to know the people at Fanatics, its history, and the exciting possibilities the future holds. Most importantly, I have learned the power of a strong and well meshed team and the extent to which communication can directly influence productivity. I look forward to continuously learning from my team, both code-wise and collaboration-wise, as the summer continues.

Maddie Nelson
Class of 2019
Major: Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science
Internship: Fanatics