Gulsen Yildirim Offers Glimpse Into Life as a Udemy Engineer in Turkey

gy-smallGulsen Yildirim is a senior software engineer in Udemy’s Turkey office, and one of 11 engineers on the Turkey team. She shares her background, insights on working at Udemy, and advice for job-seeking engineers.

What is your educational background/degree(s)?

I graduated in 2001 with a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. I have an MS degree in Cognitive Science and I am now working on my PhD in Cognitive Science. I have 10+ years of experience in software development. I did game development for about 4 years and following that, I participated in various software projects as a developer or a lead. In recent years, I did project management at a government agency in Turkey that specializes in e-government projects. I joined Udemy in March 2014.

Why did you choose to work at Udemy?

First of all, I was attracted to the product and the company vision. I also loved the attitudes and level of expertise of the engineers. I went through five interviews, and all of them ended with great technical conversations.

What is your role at Udemy?

I’m a senior software engineer on the recommendation team. We mainly work on developing new recommendation algorithms and related features. For instance, we are trying to understand intentions of the users and help them discover new courses aligned with their interests. I have also been involved in projects which require learning from user behaviors, like development of spam filters and ranking through click behaviors.

How would you describe your first days on the job?

I was really excited about the energy. The team was motivated to learn new things and to discover new ways for improving the product continuously – and everyone was so helpful and friendly.

Describe some challenges you’ve had to overcome being based in Udemy’s Turkey office.

There’s a 10 hour time difference, which is challenging. So we have to get synchronized with the team in San Francisco especially via meetings. The SF team picks meeting hours that work for the Turkey team, which is really helpful. For example, all of our planning meetings with the U.S. happen in the evenings in Turkey. But we usually finish all meetings in one or two nights so having meetings at night does not become an issue for our personal lives.

How would you describe your team?

The team is very respectful and helpful. Especially, speaking as a female engineer who has had various roles in different industries, the team at Udemy has been very supportive. This is a great team to work with!

What is your proudest Udemy accomplishment?

We introduced personalized recommendations. This was a great milestone and provided us lots of insights to develop further related features.

What advice would you give an engineer who may be looking for a job?

I believe finding the right team is as important as finding the right job description. So I would advise people to seek opportunities to interact with the team and company to help set expectations. For instance, networking events may provide a good opportunity for that.


Interested in joining the Udemy engineering team? Check out our job openings. We currently have software engineer positions open in San Francisco, Turkey, and Ireland!