#WorkItWednesday featuring Trey Sands, iOS Engineer
#WorkItWednesday is Grindr's feature on employees and programs at the heart of the work we do to connect the LGBTQ community with each other and the world around them. In this edition, we chat with Trey Sands about his experience joining Grindr as an iOS Engineer.
Meet Trey Sands (he/him), iOS Engineer at Grindr on the Core Squad!
Trey graduated from Reed College with a bachelor’s in Economics-Mathematics. After graduation, Trey moved across the country to Washington DC where he worked at the Federal Reserve as a research assistant for three years before graduate school, until the Midwest called him back. After graduating from the University of Chicago with his Masters in Computational Analysis and Public Policy in 2016, he fell in love with the city and remained there. Trey spent a few years working with tech consulting firms before landing his role at Grindr in January 2022. Having spent some time working with various teams in the org, Trey now works as part of the Core Squad which supports Grindr’s mobile app and core functionality.
Check out Trey’s Grindr story below, and take a look at our careers page to learn more about our open job opportunities.
Have you always worked in the tech industry? What drew you to app development or the dating space specifically?
I first left college working in economic research, spending a few years in Washington, D.C. for the Federal Reserve. But as I went back for a graduate degree in machine learning and public policy, the software engineering classes I took fit perfectly with my knack for puzzles coupled with the opportunity to think through creative solutions for tech challenges. After graduation, I wanted to work in the tech space a bit to shore up that experience before potentially returning to the policy world. I’ve since worked on a wide variety of apps, from mobile shopping to credit servicing, to the Internet of Things. After consulting on these projects, I was looking to have a bigger stake in my work. Grindr is the first time that I’ve been able to contribute and work on an app that I’ve used and love - so every bug I’ve fixed hasn’t been just business as usual for me, it has been personal.
Tell us why you joined Grindr. What do you love most about our mission and our culture?
As a long-time user of the app, I have had the opportunity to meet so many different friends through Grindr. The app was incredibly useful when I (twice) moved across the country to a whole new city and had to find a new circle of people to connect with. Plus, having a major part of my identity and life in my work isn’t something I expected to get outside of public policy. Now I can help out my community from the tech side and have a genuine passion for what I do. I’m also a big fan of the advocacy work that we’ve managed to accomplish with Grindr for Equality. Beyond connecting the global queer community, we have been able to really make an impact on LGBTQ social issues from our Grind the Vote campaigns to our recent monkeypox information and coordination efforts. Grindr really is a place where you can have a big impact for the global queer community.
How have you grown professionally while on our team?
Prior to working at Grindr, the closest I had come to functional programming was reading the Wikipedia article on the imperative programming paradigm. I’d worked a bit in unidirectional data flows, but mainly through one-way dependency injections. After some Zoom calls and long slack chats across all different squads as well as my immediate team leads, now, I’m able to think in a Reactive paradigm rather than purely in past objects and protocols. I can read a long strip of maps and filters and be able to decipher exactly what the app does given certain data states.
Reading through code review comments has in itself made me a better engineer through the technical explanations to comments and questions my colleagues leave. One of my coworkers wrote a ReactiveX cheat sheet to help himself out when he was first learning RxSwift and later shared it with the rest of the team. I, inspired by him and a bit of the Emily Dickinson I had been reading before bed, decided to do something similar and wrote a cheat sheet but in rhyming quatrains. I would have never expected to be able to flex my poetry writing and computer science knowledge at the same time, but my Grindr coworkers encouraged me, and I don’t think I would have found that with other companies.
What interesting problems is your Grindr team solving for and what are you looking forward to for the future?
Grindr’s been around for 13 years now. While there are definitely parts of the app code that are newer than others, adding any additional features to older parts of the code presents interesting challenges for the team to work through. To continue reducing this tech debt, we’ve had some major refactors in just the short time that I have been here.
For instance, we completely redesigned the user’s profile using a more modular and composable service-driven architecture. This has in turn greatly decreased development time on some features we’ve added to the profile while increasing our unit and UI test coverage. At the same time as this refactor, Grindr released other major features like Albums and Boost. Being able to do this two-pronged approach of changing the past and updating our present keeps our app and our codebase agile and ready for the future.
Do you have a favorite memory of working at Grindr so far or a moment that stands out to you that really captures what it is like to work here?
I forgot to bring a hat with me when Grindr had its first post-2020 all-staff in-person meeting…in July…in LA. That’s far too much sun for a shaved head like mine. It was also the first time I was going to be meeting most of my coworkers in real life, as we’re a remote-first company, and I’d only been there for six months. I ended up buying a couple of hats, all bright, garish, and beautiful, which I definitely would not have worn at some of my past jobs. But here I wore them and was celebrated!
Being able to be my authentic self at work without worrying about how people might react to me has really been a transformative experience. Being able to do what I love, at a company I love, with people who celebrate me - - I couldn't ask for a better work experience.
If you are looking for a company that is not only mission-driven but also shares a collaborative and supportive engineering culture, you should consider applying for roles today!