My Path to Google – Sandro León, IT Resident

Welcome to the 39th installment of our blog series “My Path to Google.” These are real stories from Googlers, interns, and alumni highlighting how they got to Google, what their roles are like, and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Sandro León. Read on!
Sandro posing in his Noogler hat
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 
I grew up in Centerville, Ohio, with three sisters, Viviana, Sonia, and Angela. My parents, Alfredo and Emilia, both proud Mexican immigrants, made sure that I knew my heritage, and felt proud of it. Growing up, my sisters and I would help out, working at our parent’s Mexican restaurant, Las Piramides. 

Outside of school and work, I’ve always loved listening to music, messing with latest tech, and playing games with friends. My interest in tech and experiences helping family and friends with my limited computer skills, led me to study IT electives in high school. Upon arriving to college, I studied Network Engineering at Sinclair Community College before transferring to the University of Cincinnati (UC) where I completed my B.S. in Computer Engineering. 

Throughout university, I grew close to Latino/Hispanic inclusive groups like Latinos en Accion as well as engineering focused teams. Looking for a way to focus my interests even further, I worked with other motivated colleagues to rekindle our Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) chapter at UC. At Google, I work with groups like HOLA (Google’s Employee Resource Group committed to empowering the Latinx community both inside and outside of Google) and Code Next (free Google-run computer science education program that meets Black and Latinx high school students in their own communities) to continue the diversity focused STEM work that got me to where I am. This also includes going back to recruit at SHPE’s convention – the convention that made it happen.
Sandro and Googlers prepping for the National SHPE convention.
What’s your role at Google?
I’m an IT Resident in Mountain View as part of the IT Residency Program. The program is an immersion into end-to-end IT support at Google, and provides the opportunity to jump-start your career at Google and beyond. My favorite part about the work is that I assist Googlers from all around the world, in-person and remotely, regardless of the team they’re working on. I’ve even had the chance to travel worldwide, visiting and working from the London and Sydney offices. Right now, I’m on rotation with the Google Calendar Site Reliability Team! Learning the ins and outs of keeping production running at Google-scale is amazing as well as a mind-boggling opportunity at times.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
Even though I’d thought of Google as a dream job when I first learned about the company, I never thought I’d actually get here.

My journey to Google starts and ends with SHPE. When I started studying at the University of Cincinnati, I remembered seeing informational flyers about the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. After getting involved with our local chapter, and looking for ways to get us to the National Convention, I discovered and applied for a Google Travel and Conference Scholarship. Soon after applying I got an email, letting me know Google was flying me out to the convention in Kansas City, but I knew I couldn’t go without the team that inspired the idea. So we worked with the university and sponsors and were able to acquire funding for the rest of the group to make the inaugural conference trip together! 

Part of registering for the conference was submitting a resume to SHPE, so they could share with attending organizations. I’d never applied to Google as I thought I wouldn’t make it through the tons of other resumes, and even if I did, there wouldn’t be a position for someone with my experience. This was where Google proved me wrong. I’d always romanticized the idea of working in Silicon Valley, with Google at the top of the list. I thought I might visit the Googleplex as a tourist, but didn’t have much confidence that I was employable – especially at Google as a new graduate. 

After submitting my resume to SHPE, I never expected Google to reach out, but they did. It took me almost a whole day to respond to the first email because I didn’t believe it, and almost dismissed it as spam.
Sandro holding a clipboard in front of the Google SHPE convention booth.
How did the recruitment process go for you?
Google had the most helpful recruitment process I’d ever been a part of, and SHPE only helped make it even more surreal. After convincing myself that the email from Google wasn’t spam, I spoke with a recruiter. They made sure that I understood the role and answered all my questions over a phone call. Then they planned to make it possible for me to interview in-person with Googlers at the convention. Being my first SHPE convention, I was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing thousands of professional Hispanic engineers. I was definitely nervous, but having my friends there helped. 
Sandro and Googlers on a trip.
Complete the following: "I [choose one: code/create/design/build] for..." 
I build for representation, inclusion, and respect.

What inspires you to come in every day?
I’m inspired to come in everyday because I know the people I work with are just as passionate to help me as I am to help them. Everyday I work here is an opportunity to open the door for others who might not see themselves here, show them they’re valued by helping, and build a better place for them when they get here. From helping people communicate to reaching quantum supremacy, Google brings people together to create and inspire. I’m also especially honored to work with and support Code Next. I get to make sure that students keep learning.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
I would’ve applied sooner if I’d known that the Google careers site was so comprehensive in listing every opening. I would also recommend that anyone interested in a role take a look at the specific criteria listed. They’re as specific as they can be, and depending on what you’re looking for you might have a good chance of finding something you’re interested and qualified for. Don’t dismiss yourself and always keep looking!
Sandro in front of Google sign in Mountain View.
Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
Google actually has tons of YouTube videos about general hiring and interviewing. For my interview for the IT Residency Program, I studied a ton of troubleshooting methodologies, and actually reviewed my notes from my classes/studies.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Googleyness is a thing! There’s lots of facets to it, but for me, the most important narrow down to respect and helping others. What was different about Google to me compared to previous workplaces is that everyone is invited to bring their whole selves to work, so make sure you’re being yourself during the interview. 

Machine learning meets African agriculture

In 2016, a crop-destroying caterpillar, Fall Armyworm (FAW) was first detected in Africa. The crop pest has since devastated agriculture by infecting millions of corn fields, which threatens food security on the continent. Farmers who rely on harvests for food need to combat the pest, which has now spread to India and China.

That’s where Nazirini Siraji comes in. She is one of several developers working to provide farmers with new tools to fight FAW. After codelabs hosted by a Google developer group in Mbale, Uganda, she created the “Farmers Companion App” using TensorFlow, Google’s open-source machine learning platform. It’s a free app that identifies when a crop has FAW and which stage the worm is in its lifecycle (and therefore how threatening it is and how far it is likely to spread). It also advises on which pesticides or treatments are best to stop the worm spreading any further. The app is already working in the field, helping farmers around Mbale to identify FAW. 

They continue to improve the app so it can identify more pests and diseases. Nazirini shows the impact that developers can have on agricultural issues like FAW and across other sectors, too. We visited Nazirini and her team this year, here’s more about their story:

Learn more about how others are using TensorFlow to solve all kinds of problems.

Google Classroom accessibility empowers inclusive learning

Grace is a 5th grader at Village Elementary School near San Diego, CA. As a student who is blind, she’s used to using multiple pieces of equipment or having an aide support her. But when she started using Google Classroom with a screen reader, “it opened up a whole world for her,” according to Grace’s mom. She is now able to participate confidently alongside her sighted peers. 

Many tools in G Suite have accessibility features built in, including screen readers, voice typing, and braille displays—and Classroom is no different. It helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with students and guardians. Classroom is now used by 40 million students and educators globally, each of whom learns and teaches in a unique way. 

Grace is one story of a student excelling in her class with the support of technology, and we’d love to hear from you about the tools you’re using to support all learners. To learn more about the accessibility features built into G Suite and Chromebooks, head to

Speak easy while traveling with Google Maps

Google Maps has made travel easier than ever before. You can scout out a neighborhood before booking a hotel, get directions on the go and even see what nearby restaurants the locals recommend thanks to auto-translated reviews.

But when you're in a foreign country where you don't speak or read the language, getting around can still be difficult -- especially when you need to speak with someone. Think about that anxiety-inducing time you tried to talk to a taxi driver, or that moment you tried to casually ask a passerby for directions.

To help, we're bringing Google Maps and Google Translate closer together. This month, we’re adding a new translator feature that enables your phone to speak out a place's name and address in the local lingo. Simply tap the new speaker button next to the place name or address, and Google Maps will say it out loud, making your next trip that much simpler. And when you want to have a deeper conversation, Google Maps will quickly link you to the Google Translate app.


This text-to-speech technology automatically detects what language your phone is using to determine which places you might need help translating. For instance, if your phone is set to English and you’re looking at a place of interest in Tokyo, you’ll see the new speaker icon next to the place’s name and address so you can get a real-time translation. 

The new feature will be rolling out this month on Android and iOS with support for 50 languages and more on the way. 

Source: Translate

Helping Kiwi Teachers Learn Digital Skills through the Manaiakalani Education Trust

Back in 2013 Google New Zealand began work with the Manaiakalani Education programme by partnering on initiatives to help digitise education. Today we announced our continuing support of their Digital Fluency Intensive (DFI) which is rapidly upskilling large numbers of teachers in schools across New Zealand.

While 8 in 10 New Zealand principals say that digital technologies are positively impacting student achievement(1), 72% also believe that professional development among staff presents either a “major barrier” or “somewhat of a barrier” to the use of digital technologies in schools(2). That’s why schools working with Manaiakalani are combining effective teaching techniques with digital enablement to accelerate children’s learning.

Announced today at the 12th annual Manaiakalani Film Festival, Jenny Oxley from Manaiakalani Education Trust said “The Digital Fluency Intensive programme is a direct result of Google's ground-breaking support of the Manaiakalani Digital Teacher Academy innovation and is maximising the impact of the digital learning for young people through accelerating teachers’ own skill development. This is proving to be an enormous professional learning experience for these teachers and the flow-on impact on student achievement is now undeniable.”

Since 2018, the DFI has delivered over 1600 days training to Kiwi teachers across 91 schools. We look forward to seeing how this programme helps New Zealand teachers prepare for the digital future.

Post content
(1) Research New Zealand (2017)

(2) Education at a Glance. (2017). Retrieved from

Dev Channel Update for Desktop

The Dev channel has been updated to 80.0.3964.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux

A partial list of changes is available in the log. Interested in switching release channels? Find out how. If you find a new issue, please let us know by filing a bug. The community help forum is also a great place to reach out for help or learn about common issues.
Srinivas Sista Google Chrome

New Insights into Human Mobility with Privacy Preserving Aggregation

Understanding human mobility is crucial for predicting epidemics, urban and transit infrastructure planning, understanding people’s responses to conflict and natural disasters and other important domains. Formerly, the state-of-the-art in mobility data was based on cell carrier logs or location "check-ins", and was therefore available only in limited areas — where the telecom provider is operating. As a result, cross-border movement and long-distance travel were typically not captured, because users tend not to use their SIM card outside the country covered by their subscription plan and datasets are often bound to specific regions. Additionally, such measures involved considerable time lags and were available only within limited time ranges and geographical areas.

In contrast, de-identified aggregate flows of populations around the world can now be computed from phones' location sensors at a uniform spatial resolution. This metric has the potential to be extremely useful for urban planning since it can be measured in a direct and timely way. The use of de-identified and aggregated population flow data collected at a global level via smartphones could shed additional light on city organization, for example, while requiring significantly fewer resources than existing methods.

In “Hierarchical Organization of Urban Mobility and Its Connection with City Livability”, we show that these mobility patterns — statistics on how populations move about in aggregate — indicate a higher use of public transportation, improved walkability, lower pollutant emissions per capita, and better health indicators, including easier accessibility to hospitals. This work, which appears in Nature Communications, contributes to a better characterization of city organization and supports a stronger quantitative perspective in the efforts to improve urban livability and sustainability.
Visualization of privacy-first computation of the mobility map. Individual data points are automatically aggregated together with differential privacy noise added. Then, flows of these aggregate and obfuscated populations are studied.
Computing a Global Mobility Map While Preserving User Privacy
In line with our AI principles, we have designed a method for analyzing population mobility with privacy-preserving techniques at its core. To ensure that no individual user’s journey can be identified, we create representative models of aggregate data by employing a technique called differential privacy, together with k-anonymity, to aggregate population flows over time. Initially implemented in 2014, this approach to differential privacy intentionally adds random “noise” to the data in a way that maintains both users' privacy and the data's accuracy at an aggregate level. We use this method to aggregate data collected from smartphones of users who have deliberately chosen to opt-in to Location History, in order to better understand global patterns of population movements.

The model only considers de-identified location readings aggregated to geographical areas of predetermined sizes (e.g., S2 cells). It "snaps" each reading into a spacetime bucket by discretizing time into longer intervals (e.g., weeks) and latitude/longitude into a unique identifier of the geographical area. Aggregating into these large spacetime buckets goes beyond protecting individual privacy — it can even protect the privacy of communities.

Finally, for each pair of geographical areas, the system computes the relative flow between the areas over a given time interval, applies differential privacy filters, and outputs the global, anonymized, and aggregated mobility map. The dataset is generated only once and only mobility flows involving a sufficiently large number of accounts are processed by the model. This design is limited to heavily aggregated flows of populations, such as that already used as a vital source of information for estimates of live traffic and parking availability, which protects individual data from being manually identified. The resulting map is indexed for efficient lookup and used to fuel the modeling described below.

Mobility Map Applications
Aggregate mobility of people in cities around the globe defines the city and, in turn, its impact on the people who live there. We define a metric, the flow hierarchy (Φ), derived entirely from the mobility map, that quantifies the hierarchical organization of cities. While hierarchies across cities have been extensively studied since Christaller’s work in the 1930s, for individual cities, the focus has been primarily on the differences between core and peripheral structures, as well as whether cities are mono- or poly-centric. Our results instead show that the reality is much more rich than previously thought. The mobility map enables a quantitative demonstration that cities lie across a spectrum of hierarchical organization that strongly correlates with a series of important quality of life indicators, including health and transportation.

Below we see an example of two cities — Paris and Los Angeles. Though they have almost the same population size, those two populations move in very different ways. Paris is mono-centric, with an "onion" structure that has a distinct high-mobility city center (red), which progressively decreases as we move away from the center (in order: orange, yellow, green, blue). On the other hand, Los Angeles is truly poly-centric, with a large number of high-mobility areas scattered throughout the region.
Mobility maps of Paris (left) and Los Angeles (right). Both cities have similar population sizes, but very different mobility patterns. Paris has an "onion" structure exhibiting a distinct center with a high degree of mobility (red) that progressively decreases as we move away from the center (in order: orange, yellow, green, blue). In contrast, Los Angeles has a large number of high-mobility areas scattered throughout the region.
More hierarchical cities — in terms of flows being primarily between hotspots of similar activity levels — have values of flow hierarchy Φ closer to the upper limit of 1 and tend to have greater levels of uniformity in their spatial distribution of movements, wider use of public transportation, higher levels of walkability, lower pollution emissions, and better indicators of various measures of health. Returning to our example, the flow hierarchy of Paris is Φ=0.93 (in the top quartile across all 174 cities sampled), while that of Los Angeles is 0.86 (bottom quartile).

We find that existing measures of urban structure, such as population density and sprawl composite indices, correlate with flow hierarchy, but in addition the flow hierarchy conveys comparatively more information that includes behavioral and socioeconomic factors.
Connecting flow hierarchy Φ with urban indicators in a sample of US cities. Proportion of trips as a function of Φ, broken down by model share: private car, public transportation, and walking. Sample city names that appear in the plot: ATL (Atlanta), CHA (Charlotte), CHI (Chicago), HOU (Houston), LA (Los Angeles), MIN (Minneapolis), NY (New York City), and SF (San Francisco). We see that cities with higher flow hierarchy exhibit significantly higher rates of public transportation use, less car use, and more walkability.
Measures of urban sprawl require composite indices built up from much more detailed information on land use, population, density of jobs, and street geography among others (sometimes up to 20 different variables). In addition to the extensive data requirements, such metrics are also costly to obtain. For example, censuses and surveys require a massive deployment of resources in terms of interviews, and are only standardized at a country level, hindering the correct quantification of sprawl indices at a global scale. On the other hand, the flow hierarchy, being constructed from mobility information alone, is significantly less expensive to compile (involving only computer processing cycles), and is available in real-time.

Given the ongoing debate on the optimal structure of cities, the flow hierarchy, introduces a different conceptual perspective compared to existing measures, and can shed new light on the organization of cities. From a public-policy point of view, we see that cities with greater degree of mobility hierarchy tend to have more desirable urban indicators. Given that this hierarchy is a measure of proximity and direct connectivity between socioeconomic hubs, a possible direction could be to shape opportunity and demand in a way that facilitates a greater degree of hub-to-hub movement than a hub-to-spoke architecture. The proximity of hubs can be generated through appropriate land use, that can be shaped by data-driven zoning laws in terms of business, residence or service areas. The presence of efficient public transportation and lower use of cars is another important factor. Perhaps a combination of policies, such as congestion-pricing, used to disincentivize private transportation to socioeconomic hubs, along with building public transportation in a targeted fashion to directly connect the hubs, may well prove useful.

Next Steps
This work is part of our larger AI for Social Good efforts, a program that focuses Google's expertise on addressing humanitarian and environmental challenges.These mobility maps are only the first step toward making an impact in epidemiology, infrastructure planning, and disaster response, while ensuring high privacy standards.

The work discussed here goes to great lengths to ensure privacy is maintained. We are also working on newer techniques, such as on-device federated learning, to go a step further and enable computing aggregate flows without personal data leaving the device at all. By using distributed secure aggregation protocols or randomized responses, global flows can be computed without even the aggregator having knowledge of individual data points being aggregated. This technique has also been applied to help secure Chrome from malicious attacks.

This work resulted from a collaboration of Aleix Bassolas and José J. Ramasco from the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems (IFISC, CSIC-UIB), Brian Dickinson, Hugo Barbosa-Filho, Gourab Ghoshal, Surendra A. Hazarie, and Henry Kautz from the Computer Science Department and Ghoshal Lab at the University of Rochester, Riccardo Gallotti from the Bruno Kessler Foundation, and Xerxes Dotiwalla, Paul Eastham, Bryant Gipson, Onur Kucuktunc, Allison Lieber, Adam Sadilek at Google.

The differential privacy library used in this work is open source and available on our GitHub repo.

Source: Google AI Blog

Building Skills, Building Community

Year after year, we hear from conference attendees that it's not just the content they came for, it's the connections. Meeting new people, getting new perspectives, making new friends (and sometimes hiring them!) is a big part of KubeCon Life. We want to make sure that the Kubecon community is welcoming to people from diverse backgrounds but just being welcoming is not enough: we have to actually do the work to help people get through the door.

The easiest way to help people get through the door is through diversity scholarships. One of the biggest blockers to full participation in our community is just having the resources to get to the room where it happens, and a diversity scholarship—not just a ticket, but travel assistance too—helps increase participation.

1: Going Swagless

This Kubecon we want you to take away the really important things from the conference: new knowledge and new connections... not just another pen or plastic doodad. (Although to be fair, we will also have plenty of stickers... stickers aren't swag, they're an essential part of Kubecon!)

Google prides itself on being a data-driven company, so when we need to decide where we can spend our dollars to make the most impact and do the most good for the Kubecon community, we turn to the data. We know there is an issue from the CNCF KubeCon report in Seattle 2018 reporting in 11% women (and that’s not even a complete diversity metric). Now looking at the things conference attendees have told us they value about Kubecon, we put together this handy chart to help us guide our decision-making:
Travel + Conf Ticket ScholarshipBranded Pen
Face to face learning
Career development
OSS community building
Writing tools

We also need to consider externalities when we make our decisions—and going #swagless and dedicating those resources to improving the conversation and community at Kubecon has some positive externalities: less plastic (and lighter luggage going home) is better for the planet, too!

If our work to support diversity and inclusion at Kubecon has inspired you and you want to know what your org can do to participate, there is plenty of room in the #swagless tent for everyone—redirect your swag budget to D&I efforts. Shoutouts to conference organizers like SpringOne that went totally swagless this year!

2: Diversity Lunch + Hack

Our commitment to a welcoming environment and a diverse community doesn't stop at getting people in the door: we also need to work on inclusion. Our diversity lunch and hack is a place where people can:
  • Build their skills through pair programming
  • Get installation help
  • Do deep-dives on k8s topics
  • Connect with others in the community
Our diversity lunch isn't just talking about diversity: it's about working towards diversity through skill-building and creating stronger community bonds. Register here!

We welcomed 220 friends and allies in Barcelona and expect to continue the sold-out streak in San Diego (get your ticket now)!

3: Redirecting Even More

But wait, there's more! We're not just going #swagless, we're also redirecting all the hands-on workshop registration fees ($50) from Anthos Day, Anthos&GKE Lab, OSS: Agones, Knative, and Kubeflow to the diversity scholarship fund. You can build a stronger, more diverse community while you build your skills—a total twofer. (And our workshops are also walking the walk of inclusion by being accessible themselves: if you need support to attend a workshop, whether financial or physical, send us a note.

4: Hiring

Also, one of the best things any company can do to drive D&I is to hire people who will help your company become more diverse, whether as a consultant to help you build your program, or as a team member who will help you bring a wider perspective to your product! Come meet a Googler at any of the activities we are doing during the week to discuss jobs at Google Cloud:

By: Paris Pittman, Google Open Source

6 steps to being a smart searcher

Search has been around for more than 20 years and we see billions of queries every day. Today I’ve already used Search to check this Sunday’s Giants’ score against the Jets, look up lyrics to Coldplay’s new song, and find out when daylight savings starts next year. But with so much information online today, the fastest way to find exactly what you’re looking for isn’t always obvious. 

In my 14 years at Google as a research scientist for Search, I’ve conducted several studies to understand how people collect, organize and understand large amounts of information when they search the web. I also teach online and in-person classes to equip people with useful techniques for navigating Search. And because I think it’s so important, I even wrote a book: “The Joy of Search: A Google Insider’s Guide to Going beyond the Basics.”

There are six simple steps that I teach my students—people of all ages—to help them quickly find the information they are searching for. 

Do one more search

Often people come to Search, see the first results on the page, and assume that’s the right answer. But one simple search on a complex topic may not be enough to uncover the correct answer to your question. Conducting two or three searches offers a number of perspectives and credible sources for a well-rounded view on the subject.

Check the credibility of your sources

When you search on the web, make sure that the site you land on is the best source of information for what you're looking for. Consider the primary purpose of the website and ask yourself: What are they trying to help me with? What is their goal in providing this information? Does the information on the website align with other credible sources? Another way to check the credibility of a website is to look at online forums or discussion boards to see what other people are saying about the website.

Don’t include the answer in your question

You might search for something when you already suspect the answer. But including that answer in the query may sway the search results toward what you think the answer is. For example, if you search for “do golden retrievers weigh 85 pounds,” you may find “85 pounds” baked into the webpages that result from your search. Instead search “weight of golden retrievers.” This will show you a variety of results. From there, you can narrow down the correct answer by applying the credible source technique above.

Start your search broadly, then narrow it down

Begin searching with broad and fairly general terms about your topic. Then you can narrow your search once you find the most relevant aspects of your search. For instance, if you search for “how many teachers are in NYC” you’ll get a lot of results, but they may not be quite what you’re looking for. Then, try narrowing down your search by being more specific. Instead look for “number of kindergarten teachers in Brooklyn public schools.”

Mix and match your key phrases 

Sometimes you have to try a couple of different query phrases to focus in on the information you want. Keywords are the most important words in your idea or question—they tell the search engine what you’re seeking. Ask yourself what words will appear on the page that would have the perfect answer, or how someone else would write it. A helpful way to do this is by “parallel browsing” to find a range of information that help you get to the answer. That is, try different variations on your search in different browser tabs and compare the results side-by-side.

Explore other kinds of searchable content (Images, Videos, Books)

It can be useful to use Search’s other features, beyond just web search, especially when you want to find content that’s inherently visual. Suppose you want to find an example of how to lay out a resume to find a new job; you may want to explore Google Images for example resumes and web pages with useful job search information. Or, if you want to learn how to cook scallops like your favorite famous chef, you can search through Videos for step-by-step instructional content. Or, say you can’t remember what page a quote is on inside your favorite book. Google Books lets you search for key phrases or excerpts within books, down to the page and paragraph. Use double quotes around your phrase inside of Google Books to find where it’s located within the text. 

Using these tips, hopefully you'll shave some time off your next search.

Right-to-left language support available for new Google Sites

Quick launch summary

We’ve added right-to-left language support in new Google Sites for the following languages:
  • Arabic
  • Farsi
  • Hebrew
  • Urdu
When a site editor has their language set to one of the above, the site editing experience will adjust to place the editing sidebars and menus on the left-hand side of the screen.

Similarly, once a site is published, site viewers who have their default language set to one of the above will see navigation elements like menus reversed to match the right-to-left language.


Rollout details

G Suite editions
  • Available to all G Suite editions

On/off by default?
  • This feature will be available by default.

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