The day I went to Trade Me

Taupo high school student Caitlyn Thompson recently visited the Trade Me office after a teacher’s chance encounter with one of our Trade Me Motors developers, Grace Benedek Rooney. Here Caitlyn writes about her day with us.

A few days ago I had the privilege of visiting the Trade Me’s Auckland office. The generosity and kindness of all the staff at Trade Me has absolutely blown me away, but I must thank one person in particular – Grace Benedek Rooney.

I was put in contact with Grace when my high school digital technology teacher met Grace on a flight from Australia. My teacher discovered that Grace was a software developer for Trade Me and also a co-founder of the non-profit organisation “She#”. This is an organisation designed to promote women in computing.

My teacher, who is also keen to encourage more women into the tech fields, put me in contact with Grace, because at the time I was the only girl in my DT class. I was intrigued by what I had heard about Grace and decided to send an email asking her what opportunities there would be for someone like me, who wasn’t sure what they wanted to go on to do, in computing.

I was expecting to get a very general reply, if any at all, and probably one that wouldn’t really be of much help. But the response I received was so amazing, I still can’t believe it. Grace not only offered up her personal help, but also arranged an all expenses paid trip via Trade Me’s community team. I was going to visit Trade Me’s office in Auckland, meet all of the team, get a chance to talk to a variety of different team members from different roles and ask any questions I had. It was an amazing offer and one I could not refuse! :D

My visit to Trade Me was an experience I will never forget. I immediately felt at home. The staff were all very welcoming and friendly, and there was a very relaxed, but professional, atmosphere around the office.

I was introduced to a variety of staff members each of whom play different roles within the company. There were software developers to product designers, and each member was as polite and interesting as the last.

After being introduced to the majority of the team Grace had arranged for me to go out to lunch with some of Trade Me’s Summer of Tech interns, which turned out to be an amazing chance to talk to some younger people who know exactly the position I am in. They all shared their personal experiences and advice on how to progress after high school, which has given me a lot of ideas for my own future.

After lunch I was given the opportunity to have a chat with a member of staff from teams across Trade Me, including some of the team leaders. It was so interesting to discover that each of their paths to Trade Me were so unique and worlds apart, some of them were not even intending to work in the tech industry initially.

This made me realise that while it is good to follow your passions, you should never stop learning and trying new things. You never know what career you will end up in.

After meeting with all the members of staff and getting a firsthand look at some of the projects that Grace was working on, she told me I had a meeting with a very special guest – the CEO of Trade Me, Jon Macdonald! This was the perfect way to wrap up my dream day at Trade Me: Jon was incredibly kind and easy to talk to, despite me being lost for words at times! He answered every question I had for him and more, sharing his own upbringing and journey to where he is today.

It is clear to see where the kindness and generosity of Trade Me stems from, and how the company manages to maintain the family-like environment that is usually lost in large corporations.

My visit to Trade Me has given me so many unforgettable memories and it was for me a day of firsts; giving me my first ever look at the inner workings of a large company, my first ever plane ride, and even my first ever taxi ride!

I am super excited for what my future in tech holds for me and it has become my goal to eventually work at Trade Me – so to all of those who realise how amazing that would be, you will have to get in line behind me!