Things You Need to Know About Getting a Tech Job at Uber

Man driving with woman sitting in car
Nisian Hughes / Getty Images

If you haven’t heard about Uber by this point in time - you may be living under a rock.

Uber revolutionized the way people hail a cab through its ridesharing app. The days of flagging down a taxi from the sidewalk are fast disappearing in cities across the US and elsewhere. Customer experience now takes center stage. With a vision of “smarter transportation with fewer cars and greater access,” Uber has become a multi-billion dollar company in record time.

As a techie, you’re probably not interested in driving for Uber. However, other career opportunities with the company abound. Here’s what you need to know about working for one of the most talked-about companies of this era.

Uber at a Glance

Founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp started UberCab in 2009 to address the headaches people face getting a decent cab. What began as an idea for a limo timeshare service changed into something a whole lot bigger with the release of an iPhone app the following year. Their idea of “push a button and get a car” turned the taxi and vehicle-for-hire industries on their heads.

Full name - Uber Technologies Inc.

Headquarters - San Francisco, CA

Initial service area - San Francisco Bay Area (2009 - 2010)

First international operations - Paris (December 2011)

Uber services - UberX (known as UberPop in Europe), UberXL, UberSelect (known as UberPlus in some markets,) UberPOOL, and UberBLACK (Black Car)

Current locations - 404 cities around the world and counting (selected services are offered at different locations)

Company valuation - Latest estimates in December 2015 valued Uber at $62.5 billion

Company Culture

Its tremendous success resulted from a ground-breaking concept. But the company continues to grow at an unprecedented rate despite dozens of copycat services entering the market.

Strong opposition from traditional taxi drivers has threatened growth and periodical country bans also throw a spanner in the works. But neither have halted Uber’s expansion plans. And wrong turns by the company itself -- an executive once suggested digging up dirt on critical journalists -- haven’t affected traction. Renee Atwood, Uber Global Head of People and Places, says it all boils down to company culture.

The company encourages employees to make “bold bets” to keep the company moving forward. They must take risks on innovation and creativity -- come up with a bright idea, and someone at the company will pay attention. As a result, there’s an atmosphere of excitement and enthusiasm at the company. Many reviewers on Glassdoor mention the fast pace, collaboration opportunities, and innovative solutions as advantages of working there. Moreover, autonomy and influence over product direction are highlights of Uber’s work environment for techies.

Uber is a new company in unexplored territory, so it's not all smooth sailing. Since the company has become more successful, office politics and work-life balance are among the disadvantages workers mention. The company makes it clear employees need to do whatever it takes to get things done.

So expect to work nights, weekends, and holidays at times.

Jobs at Uber

Uber adds people to their payroll who ensure the company continues to provide an excellent customer experience. Employees work towards a common goal of changing the way the world operates -- at least in terms of traveling from point A to point B. Furthermore, company success depends on how customers react to the service, so behavioral data must be accumulated and analyzed.

Technologies at the forefront of tech recruitment policy include Python, Java, NodeJS, Spark, Storm, Riak, PostgresSQL, and mySQL. And Uber’s careers page lists numerous tech positions for:

Part of Uber’s mission is to “bring safe, reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere." They founded the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in 2015 to develop long-term technologies to do this.

The center, in Pittsburgh, PA, lists a range of tech job openings.

Don't be surprised if you receive a notification from your Uber app to play a game the next time you book a trip. They’ve taken recruitment mobile with their Code on the Road game in locations where a lot of people work in tech. During their Uber ride, potential talent can show off their coding skills via the game. Perform well, and you’ll receive an offer to explore further opportunities with the company.

Landing a Job at Uber

It isn’t a speedy ride to a position with Uber, and candidates who have gone through the recruitment process report multiple stages of interviews and tests. A telephone screening kicks things off. Besides the standard background questions, coding and algorithmic skills come under the spotlight -- it’s not unusual to do a coding test while on the phone. Coding projects are sometimes sent via email.

If you impress them, multiple on-site interviews follow. Tech candidates typically face questions on design, algorithms, and data structure. When it comes to managerial positions, applicants have to demonstrate analytical skills through an online test that weighs answers differently for specific markets and positions.

Even though the recruitment process can be drawn out, it’s not the most difficult. Glassdoor rates interview difficulty for software engineering positions as average (3.2 out of 5.) The site shows mostly positive (49%) or neutral (23%) interview experiences reported by candidates. The majority of applicants approached Uber online.

Salaries and Benefits

According to PayScale, Uber Technologies pays its employees 14% above market. Here’s how a couple of other tech positions with the company fare based on limited reporting data:

The salary range of a software engineer is $66,000 to $162,000 after bonuses. That’s a median salary of around $103,000. By comparison, the US average is $79,000. Data scientists at Uber earn between $109,000 and $220,000. The US average stands at around $93,000.

Employee numbers reported to Glassdoor set average salaries for a software engineer and a data scientist at $131,000 and $149,000 respectively.

Benefits and perks at Uber include:

  • Health, vision, and dental insurance

  • Performance bonuses

  • Stock options

  • Flexible work hours

  • Paid holidays/unlimited vacation

  • Casual dress and atmosphere

  • Gym/health club membership

  • Free drinks

Conclusion

Uber has reached unprecedented heights since its inception. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing companies ever. Former CEO Travis Kalanick stated there’s much more to come. At the celebration of Uber's fifth anniversary, he said, “If we were able to achieve this much in five years, just imagine what we could achieve in the next five years, or the five years after that. Just imagine a city where traffic speeds along smoothly and quietly, even at rush hour — this is my dream."

A job with any young startup has its challenges while the company finds its bearings. But there are plenty of career benefits of working at a startup too. Uber holds real promise for new job opportunities and fresh services. Their vision to change the way people travel and receive goods will be realized as they increase their pool of talented and innovative thinkers.