Category Archives: Student Blog

Google news and updates especially for students

My Path to Google: Ginny Clarke, Leadership Staffing Director

Welcome to the 27th 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 Ginny Clarke. She will be speaking at the 52nd Annual Consortium Orientation Program (OP), taking place June 9-13. See our recent blog post about it here. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Riverside, CA. I wanted to be a veterinarian, but ended up with BA degrees in French and Linguistics from the University of California, Davis. I then went to Northwestern (Kellogg) for my MBA. When I am not working, I like to exercise, cook, write, travel, spend time with my son, Julian, and play with my dog, Mika. I wrote a book called Career Mapping: Charting Your Course in the New World of Work in 2011, and hope to write one or two more books.

What’s your role at Google?
My title is Director, Leadership Staffing. Leadership Staffing is Google's internal executive search firm and I am responsible for driving diversity, internal mobility (helping senior Googlers find new internal roles), and leading a team of 20 non-tech recruiters.

Complete the following: "I [choose one: code/create/design/build] for..."
Create processes that help Google hire the most qualified and diverse senior talent in the world.

What inspires you to come in every day?
I am excited about Google's ability to attract talent it hasn't historically attracted or considered. I am working to institutionalize processes and rubrics that help to identify, attract, and hire this talent to help take our company to new levels around the world.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
Google called me because of my expertise in executive recruiting, in particular, diversity recruiting. I was watching Google and it's tech competitors grapple with diversity at the senior levels and when called, agreed to take on a new role. Within two months of joining I was asked to develop an internal mobility program for senior execs – which I did. Nine months later, I took on leadership of a team of recruiters – I had three jobs within 18 months of joining!

How did the recruitment process go for you?
The recruitment process was a bit bumpy at first because there wasn't exactly an open role when I was first reached out to. Another tech company started pursuing me, but Google stepped up by introducing me to a couple of very senior execs (our Chief Financial Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer) who convinced me to join.

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
I consider myself to be an expert interviewee given that I've interviewed thousands of people as a recruiter. I did learn as much as I could about the company and the individuals I was interviewing with, and was able to establish good rapport with everyone. I view interviews as an opportunity for a conversation, not just responding to questions. I had my own questions of the interviewers and was interviewing them as much as they were me.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Be clear about what role you want, why you want it, and what makes you distinctively qualified to do it. This helps you not only in the interview, but once you start in the role – it keeps you clear about what you want to achieve. If you don't get the role, move on and don't take it personally – there are plenty of great companies where you can leverage your skills.

My Path to Google: Frances Johnson, Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)

Welcome to the 26th 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 Frances Johnson. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, and studied at the University of Adelaide. Originally I enrolled in a bachelor of mechatronic engineering program, but after doing an introductory programming course, I added computer science to make it a double degree.

A year before I graduated I did an internship at Google, and it was amazing. I managed to get a full-time offer, so I moved permanently to Sydney after finishing my degrees.

I like playing Pokémon, Tetris, and board games, as well as watching and reading sci-fi, fantasy, and crime dramas. I also enjoy making things, including chainmail (the metal kind, not the email kind). About a year and a half ago, I took up rock climbing to fill my exercise needs.

What’s your role at Google?
I'm a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE). For the last three years I was on the Geo SRE team, which includes a lot of different services (customer-facing like Maps, Earth, and Streetview, and backends which do things such as calculate directions and maintain all the data we have about the world). Specifically I focused on the servers behind desktop and mobile Maps, and the third-party Maps APIs.

One of my coolest projects I worked on was helping to launch the Lite mode of Maps. I've also gotten to work closely with the SRE team for Google Search and make sure our products and features work well together.

Recently I've joined the Spanner SRE team and am really excited to learn about how global-scale storage systems work.

What inspires you to come in every day?
My coworkers. I'm excited to work with so many amazingly smart, dedicated, interesting, and caring people. It's great to see what we can all solve and create together.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
I never really thought I'd be able to get a job at Google—I didn't even think I'd get an internship. Some uni friends of mine interned the previous summer and convinced me to apply. My internship happened to be with an SRE team, and it was such a great experience that I asked if I could apply for SRE full-time.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
I applied online for my internship. There was a slight delay in getting my interviews scheduled, but from there, it was mostly smooth. I remember anxiously waiting to hear about my application, but my recruiter had just gotten back from visiting family overseas. She called me right before going home for the weekend, so I wouldn't be left in suspense.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
How you approach problems you don't immediately know how to solve is really important, much more so than remembering details you can just look up later, like syntax. At Google, problems that nobody has seen before happen every day. Oh, and I wish the SRE book existed back then!

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
Cracking the Coding Interview was a really useful book that I went through. I also did a lot of algorithm study (Algorithms Unplugged, Introduction to Algorithms, and Algorithms and Data Structures: The Basic Toolbox). But probably the most helpful thing was convincing my friends to mock interview me a lot.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Impostor syndrome is extremely real, especially at Google. It's easy to think you'll never make it through the interviews, but don't let it stop you from being confident and doing your best.

*Interested in a Site Reliability Engineer role? Apply now, and learn more at Google's SRE site.

Google is heading to Consortium’s flagship MBA conference June 9-13.

Google’s Talent and Outreach Programs Team is headed to Orlando from June 9-13 for the 52nd Annual Consortium Orientation Program (OP)!

The Consortium awards merit-based, full-tuition fellowships to top MBA candidates who have a proven record of promoting inclusion in school, in their jobs, or in their personal lives. (Find their full mission on the Consortium’s site.) 

OP takes place the summer before Consortium Fellows begin the first year of their MBA programs – serving as a way to build a community of underrepresented talent prior to entering business school. This will be the seventh year Google is participating. 

At this conference, we’re looking forward to engaging with Consortium attendees — including 500+ incoming MBA students, MBA career center representatives, and other corporate partners. Between a Google-hosted luncheon, technology-track panel, career forum, and countless informal chats, it’s going to be a jam-packed few days.

If you’ll be attending OP please stop by booth #109 and say “hi.” We’d love to connect with you, provide insights into our business and culture, and help YOU envision your career at Google.

Congratulations to the 2018 Google scholarship recipients!

Here at Google, we recognize the challenges faced by underrepresented students in the tech industry. We strive to make education more accessible by creating programs to engage students around the world. As part of our initiatives focused on expanding diversity, we offer academic scholarships and a trip to a Google office to learn more about our company and culture, network with a community of fellow scholars, and participate in professional development opportunities. Our goal is to not only support their academic pursuits, but also empower scholars to encourage and inspire others.

We are thrilled to announce this years recipients who represent 89 universities in 22 countries. This year’s scholars have demonstrated a passion for technology, academic excellence, and have proven themselves as exceptional leaders and role models within their communities. We recently selected recipients for the following scholarship programs:
Congratulations to our 2018 scholarship recipients! These students will join a community of over 2,500 Google scholars who are becoming leaders in their field and inspiring the next generation of computer science students. We can’t wait to see to see how these students continue to shape the future of computer science.

Click here to see the full list of winners.

Stay tuned for our announcement of the Women Techmakers Scholars Program for Asia Pacific.

My Path to Google: Alex Grant, Partner Operations Manager for Google my Business

Welcome to the 25th 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 Alex Grant. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was in the first Information Engineering cohort at West Point and focused on using cognitive psychology and human-computer interaction to create solutions with technology. After five years in the Army I knew I wanted to work in tech. I started at Google in 2015, and now live in Washington and work in the Kirkland office.

What’s your role at Google?
I’m a Partner Operations Manager for Google My Business, which means I supervise the support we offer to agency customers and contribute ideas for improving the product. The leadership skills I developed in the military are vital in my day-to-day work coordinating teams across two cities.

You recently returned to Savannah to help out at a Grow with Google event. What was that experience like?
Yes, I was stationed in Savannah as a transportation officer for five years during my military service.

Helping the Savannah community through the Grow With Google program was so inspiring and gratifying. It’s a dream opportunity and what I care about most. I was so happy to see the growing community of small business owners that will help introduce Savannah to the rest of the world. Working with veterans was particularly satisfying; I devote some of my personal time to aiding transitioning vets, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to support them with Grow with Google.

It’s often assumed that people looking for jobs have the skills needed to navigate the process. Grow with Google invites people to learn the most important skills, gets them started with resources, and gets them used to engaging with people in tech communities. Every time we have an event, someone who thought that tech wasn’t for them might change their perception of what they can do.

What inspires you to come in every day?
When veterans leave the military, one of the big losses they face is the sense of camaraderie that comes with that community. When I started at Google, I got some of that back. I feel like I’m part of something positive and my coworkers make every day count. They are really the difference between Google and everywhere else. There’s a huge amount of pride that comes from people of this caliber relying on you to lead.

How did you decide to apply?
The truth is that there wasn’t a clear pathway to Google when I left the military. I had offers from conventional companies but didn’t want to work in the energy or defense industries. Military recruitment firms typically try to hire officers into supervisor and manufacturing jobs, so at the time I really had to invent a new path.

At first I worked in fulfillment at Amazon and tried to make my way to headquarters. There wasn’t an opportunity to grow so I transferred to a startup and gave myself a deadline — I would either get a job at Google or move back home and supervise a warehouse. I got in touch with recruiters at Google and was connected to Courtney, who was actively reaching out to veterans. She helped me find the right role to apply to and introduced me to Monica, the recruiter who ultimately offered me my job. It was a long journey for me and now I’m passionate about helping others in my position find their way here.

How did you prepare for your interviews?
I was extremely prepared when I finally went in for interviews. A few steps I took to get ready:

  1. I referenced a lot of job descriptions and did informational interviews to learn what my resume should look like and how my military experience could translate in the civilian world.
  2. I prepped for and attended career conferences to practice interviewing, build confidence, and compare offers. During these conferences, I practiced telling my most powerful stories from my Army service.
  3. I read about Google’s culture and hiring practices in Eric Schmidt’s book, “How Google Works” and another called “I’m Feeling Lucky.” Reading about Google helped me create context with my interviewers and show that I was very familiar with Google’s culture. Today, there is a newer book called “Work Rules” that has great content about hiring.

What’s your advice to others applying to Google?
My greatest dream is that someone who is in the same position I was five years ago will read this and use these resources to find a job. When I was getting ready I looked around for anecdotes but they were hard to find. Here are my tips:

  • After you figure out what job you want, take time to learn about similar and related jobs, including lower-level positions that may feed into that specific role.
  • Promote yourself. In the military we are used to giving credit and celebrating success as a team, but it is critically important for you to share your specific impact on the team’s success.
  • Be data-driven. Show results on your resume or cover letter by using real data to show impact, whenever possible.
  • Network! Use all of the help that you can find in your local or alumni network, both for informational interviews, and referrals where appropriate.

Grow with Google offers free tools, trainings and events to help people grow their skills, careers, and businesses.

My Path to Google: Satyaki Upadhyay, Software Engineer (Google Maps)

Welcome to the 24th 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 Satyaki Upadhyay. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Kolkata and Navi Mumbai in India and graduated from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani with a degree in Computer Science.

I like math and algorithms. When I'm not working, I would most probably be taking part in some type of programming contest. I love watching and playing football and listening to progressive rock music!

What’s your role at Google?
I am a software engineer working on Google Maps. And I am also involved in Kickstart, Google's well-known programming contest that helps hire some of the best graduates from around the world.

Complete the following: "I [choose one: code/create/design/build] for..."
I code for Google Maps.

What inspires you to come in every day?
It's definitely the free food and massages. :)

On a serious note, my peers are absolutely fantastic and I get to work on an incredible product that affects millions of lives across the world.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
I had always wanted to work for Google, even since college. I worked for a year at Directi in India and learnt a lot there. After 15 months there, I felt that it was the right time to join Google. I got myself an interview call, had some challenging interview rounds, and I made it! :D

How did the recruitment process go for you?
The recruitment process was a lot of fun. The questions asked were of a very high standard and I had an exciting time solving them (with hints from the interviewer, of course :)). I was worried initially that I might mess up in the interviews, but as they kept happening and I was able to solve the problems, I grew more and more confident and each interview turned out to be a discussion with my interviewer, rather than a typical "question-answer" round.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
That it's not always necessary to arrive at the correct answer. Your thought process is what you are judged on and that it's almost as important to have soft skills as it is to have technical skills.

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
I did not specifically prepare a lot for my algorithm interviews. I continued taking part in coding contests on Codeforces and Topcoder, and I was already familiar with most of the concepts. I looked at previous interview questions on Careercup on the last day. I also practiced previously asked problems from Kickstart which helped a lot in my preparation.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Don't be intimidated. Just head into the interview confident in yourself and your ability. Your interviewer is there to guide you through the round, and it will be a fun experience. :)

Want to learn more about Kickstart, a global programming competition? Check out or tune into our recent YouTube Live where Google engineers walk through tips on how to solve Kickstart problems. Be sure to register here for Kickstart before Round B on April 21st. You can find the full schedule of online rounds here. See you on the scoreboard!

My Path to Google: Annie Jean-Baptiste, Global Product Inclusion Evangelist

Welcome to the 23rd 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 Annie Jean-Baptiste. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a Boston native, and went to school at the University of Pennsylvania, studying International Relations and Political Science. I love New England sports teams, my dog (who comes to work most days), travel (I speak five languages and was a nanny before working at Google), music (I play the cello), and dance (I have danced many genres all my life and most recently danced half-time at college basketball games).

I'm passionate about healthy practices for underrepresented communities and use my platform as an American Heart Association Spokesperson and One Young World ambassador to ensure equal access to resources for communities of color. I think my degree was actually very helpful for my roles at Google—multidisciplinary, global in nature—it taught me to seek out, value, and elevate different perspectives.

What’s your role at Google?
I am the Global Product Inclusion Evangelist for Google. I help ensure we build products for everyone, with everyone. I most recently worked on several projects for Black History Month, including a Google Docs easter egg, where if you typed in #blackhistorymonth and clicked on the explorer box, you got awesome content about black history! What I like most about my role is that I can fuse my background (I started in our Global Business Organization as an Account Manager) with my passion (inclusive products and services).

Complete the following: "I [choose one: code/create/design/build] for..."

I build for communities that typically have not had their voices at the forefront, but are brilliant, innovative, and changing the world!

What inspires you to come in every day?

I am constantly inspired by Googlers and their commitment to dreaming big and creating a world where everyone—no matter their background—can see themselves in our products and use technology to create a better world.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
My brother was actually a BOLD intern and encouraged me to apply. I was a senior in college and didn't think Google was for me, given my non-tech background, but I deeply believed in making information universally accessible and useful. I was worried about not fitting in or getting the job, so I was so excited to get it AND be able to move back to the Cambridge office to be close to my family. I stayed in that office for four years, and it's still my favorite office to date!

How did the recruitment process go for you?

I applied directly and Google came to my university. I remember how friendly my recruiter was (fun fact: he had been a recruiter previously at my high school), and I also very much appreciated starting with a cohort of new grads—it made the process super fun.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
That there are so many roles at Google—you don't have to be an engineer or a certain type of person to work here. In fact, my team's mission is to make sure that there are diverse perspectives, so we can build products for everyone.

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?

For the interview, do your research—keep up with current events, what's going on in the tech industry, etc. Have a position on what excites and intrigues or challenges you in the tech landscape. Think of questions for your interviewer as well—it needs to be a fit for you, too!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Have a deep commitment to always learning. Ask questions. Be humble. Think about those voices you typically don't hear and how to ensure they have a seat at the table.

My Path to Google: Christof Leng, Site Reliability Engineer

Welcome to the 22nd 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 Christof Leng. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Germany, near Frankfurt. I first got in touch with computers as an elementary school kid when my cousin introduced me to video games on his Commodore 64 and showed me how to write simple BASIC programs. The power to teach a machine anything I could imagine, seemed like magic to me (and still does).

Many years later, I received a PhD in computer science from TU Darmstadt on the topic of stochastic replication mechanisms in unstructured peer-to-peer networks. After my PhD, I've been a visiting postdoc at UC Berkeley, working with the AMP Lab folks on Apache Spark.

I also used to be a DJ for gothic parties, founded and led the Pirate Party Germany (which had over 35,000 members at some point), and I've been a vice-president of the German Informatics Society. I also taught a masters course on Site Reliability Engineering at my alma mater.

My hobbies are underground music, graphic novels, computer games, Tolkien, and other nerdy stuff. I live with my wife, my son, and our three cats in Darmstadt.

What’s your role at Google?
I'm a tech lead/manager of one of the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) teams that runs Google's developer tools. My team is working on Google's continuous testing system and issue tracking system, among other things.

The developer tools at Google keep amazing me and it's an honor to be in charge of keeping them up and running. As a SRE, I thrive in ambiguity. We don't do the same manual tasks over and over again, like a classic operations role, but implement automation or redesign the system to fix the problem for good. That way, we have the time to pick up new interesting challenges every day. With our daily tasks changing all the time, SRE as an organization evolves at a breathtaking rate.

What inspires you to come in every day?
First and foremost, the fantastic colleagues I get to work with. Secondly, the great work environment Google provides, both the infrastructure and the organizational framework that gives us the freedom to do the right thing.

The scale at which Google operates is simply mind-blowing. You can fire up thousands of servers with the press of a button. You see petabytes of data flying by. And you know that you provide the infrastructure for products used by billions of people around the globe, making things possible everyday that I couldn't even dream of when I was a kid.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
Google was never an option for me. Even though one of my mentors at grad school moved on to become a manager at Google, I never applied myself. I heard the interviews are terribly hard and imagined I had to move to California, which seemed very far away at the time. My dream was to become a professor, not to work for a large corporation.

Coincidentally, I eventually ended up in Berkeley, California and was approached by a Google recruiter. I guess my LinkedIn profile said something about "big data." They asked, "Have you considered becoming an SRE?" and I was like, "What is that?" I think they had to explain the role to me three times during the interview process (and I still didn't get it). In hindsight, I'm extremely grateful that my academic career didn't pan out. Most stuff at Google is so much more advanced than what I would have been working on in academia.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
I was approached by a recruiter. I was surprised and excited. I also had no idea how to get through the process. Most job interviews in Germany are quite different than the Google process. I got myself two books and gave it a shot. The interviews were as tough as expected, but never unfair. I thought I got lucky with the questions I got, but thought I bombed one session. I think it was the most thorough screening of my technical skills I've ever been through. My recruiter was always very supportive and explained the process to me.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?

Probably how to negotiate an (even) better salary — I still have no clue how that is done. One thing I'm *glad* I didn't know is how much I would like my job. I would've been much more nervous and probably screwed up in the interviews.

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?

The Google Resume and Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell. Sending my resume to a number of friends and colleagues for advice and proofreading.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Follow your dreams. Always challenge the status quo. But be pragmatic. It's not helping anyone if you have your head in the clouds, but don't deliver results, no matter how little they may seem. One step at a time. Be open to change, especially if it scares you. I regret my failures much less than the risks I didn't dare to take at the time.

Getting to know a research intern: Cathin Wong

Google Research tackles the most challenging problems in CS and related fields. Being bold and taking risks is essential to what we do, and research teams are embedded throughout Google, allowing our discoveries to affect billions of users each day.

The compelling benefit to researchers is that their innovations can be implemented fast and big. Google’s unique infrastructure facilitates ideas’ speed to market — allowing their ideas to be trialled by millions of users before their paper is even published.

Today we’re talking to Cathin Wong, a former Research intern. Read on!
Left: Cathin; Right: her fellow intern

Can you tell us about yourself and your masters topic?
I’m a masters student at Stanford University, where I’m a part of the Computational

Vision and Geometry Lab — I actually just joined this October, and I’m working on projects related to semantic segmentation. I also studied at Stanford as an undergrad, and previously I worked under Sebastian Thrun with Andre Esteva and Brett Kuprel on deep learning for skin cancer detection. So I work on a lot of vision projects, and I’m especially interested in projects that lie at the intersection of machine learning and healthcare. I’m also really interested in human cognition! I loved reading books by Oliver Sacks and other neuroscientists as a kid, but when I first started in computer science, I never considered that there would be much of a direct overlap where I’d get to actually mess around in both fields. Within artificial intelligence research, though, it seems like we still have a lot to learn from actual human brains.

How did you get to work in this area?
There’s this class at Stanford, CS231N, on deep learning for computer vision. On the very first day, I remember that the professor who co-taught the class — Dr. Fei Fei Li — went through this presentation, and one of the slides was about how the initial layers of convolutional neural networks learn basic edge detecting filters that actually closely parallel the basic edge detectors found in cat and human visual cortices, suggesting that there was a deeper and more fundamental connection between these two vision systems. I thought that was insane, and also insanely cool. I joined Sebastian Thrun’s lab a little later, and have been working on AI research since then.

Why did you apply for an internship at Google and how supportive was your masters advisor?
I’d heard really great things about research at Google, and even in my classes and labs, read lots of very impressive work coming from teams in Mountain View, London, and Zurich. I was hoping to get a better sense of what research looks like outside of an academic setting, and the scope of projects and expertise was a huge draw. Also, zillions of GPUs.

My master’s advisor at Stanford is Dan Jurafsky, who is the man. He’s a computer scientist and linguist, has written a book about the language of food, and is basically the best, as far as I’m concerned. He was super supportive.

What project was your internship focused on?

I worked under Andrea Gesmundo from the Applied Machine Intelligence team on Multitask Neural Model Search, a framework to automate deep learning architecture design using reinforcement learning. This work builds off of the Neural Architecture Search research done by Barrett and Quoc from the Google Brain team - that framework was one of the first to successfully apply reinforcement learning to automatically generate convolutional neural networks.

Our project focused on extending that framework so that we could automatically design architectures for multiple different tasks, simultaneously. For example, the same framework could design a model that worked well for sentiment analysis tasks, and another that worked well for language identification, at the same time.

We then showed that it was possible to transfer learn that framework, so that knowledge learned from designing architectures for previous tasks could be reused in totally new, unseen settings. When actual humans design machine learning models, we don’t start completely from scratch every time — we can take advantage of general intuitive design patterns we’ve observed before, as well as remember what models did and didn’t work on similar tasks in the past — and this research tries to take a step closer to doing the same thing in our automated model design.

Did you publish at Google during your internship?
Yes! We submitted our work to ICML, where it’s currently under review (so fingers crossed). The pre-print is also up on Arxiv.

How closely connected was the work you did during your internship to your masters topic?
Although Andrea and I discussed a bunch of project ideas in the months before the internship, this project was actually a chance to try something fairly different from my master’s research at Stanford. For me, at least, that turned out to be one of the best things about this internship — I really loved the chance to explore a very different aspect of AI research, especially one that benefited from the guidance and computational resources available within Google, and I left with a much deeper interest in reinforcement learning that I’ve continued to explore back at Stanford.

Did you write your own code?
Heck, yeah! And then I deployed it cavalierly with enormous care across tons of GPUs. One really awesome thing about interning, though, is the chance to build off of the collaborative engineering effort of other incredibly talented engineers and researchers. I worked pretty closely with code that was being updated almost daily by researchers on the Brain team over in Mountain View, and that kind of cross-continental engineering work feels really neat.

This is your third internship at Google. What were the reasons to come back to Google Zurich?
Third time’s the charm? But actually, I’ve been lucky enough to work at a different office, on very different projects, during all three internships at Google — after my freshman year, I worked with the Glass team in Mountain View, and later I worked in New York on Google Classroom. Each time, I left with a much deeper understanding and appreciation for that particular field, and the care and expertise each of those teams brought to those particular domains. This summer, though, I wanted to come back to work on research in particular. Both of my previous internships had been very software engineering focused, and I was excited to work on AI research that more closely parallels the work I’m excited about at Stanford.

Also, Zurich! I’ve never been to Switzerland before, and this summer one of my fellow interns and I took a train out to hike past the Matterhorn. She wisely remembered to bring along a Toblerone bar for comparison. The real thing is much more breathtaking (but a lot less chocolatey.) 
[Editor’s note: the photo referenced is the photo at the beginning of this post!]

What key skills have you gained from your time at Google?
My team held a weekly reading group, where we’d gather to read and discuss cutting-edge AI papers chosen by different members of the team. This turned out to be one of the very best experiences of the internship — it was incredibly helpful to step back and get a better sense of what’s happening within a very rapidly changing field. Listening to colleagues step through these papers helped me learn to more rigorously assess any given paper — to ask what the experiments really mean, and how its conclusions could generalize to our own current and future projects. Those are questions that I’ve tried to ask more about any work since the summer. That commitment to keeping up with the very coolest things happening within the field also just serves to remind me, often, of what exactly I love about this work and how much there is left to tackle.

What impact has this internship experience had on your masters?
A ton. I really enjoyed diving deeply into research that was largely outside of my own master’s expertise. So much is changing within reinforcement learning right now, and I’ve definitely brought back what I learned — and a sparked interest in related work — to my research here.

Looking back on your experiences now: Why should a masters student apply for an internship at Google? Any advice to offer?
There’s a kind of magical combination of people and resources that means you can work and learn so much within so short a time- especially if you love research and haven’t yet done a PhD, like myself, the internship offers that same rigor and breadth of very cool projects in a very compressed package.

When you’re here, definitely definitely ask questions. Talk to other people about their research, because it’s going to be very awesome and maybe even directly relevant. Join a reading group. Or start a reading group. And get someone to show you how to actually use the espresso machines. That milk frothy thingie? Life changing.

Ready to grow your coding skills? Registration is now open for Code Jam and Kickstart!

Looking to grow or test your coding skills? Don’t miss two of Google’s fun and challenging programming competitions — Kickstart and Code Jam.

Registration for Kickstart and Code Jam is open! These two programming competitions are designed for programmers of all levels looking to put their coding skills to the test. All of the problems are designed by a team of Google Engineers to inspire and challenge participants. People from across the globe are invited to join the fun! We have a community of current competitors, former participants, and fans of the competitions across Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and Facebook.

Here’s everything you need to know about Kickstart and Code Jam:

Kickstart: Want to grow your coding skills?

Throughout the year, Code Jam hosts online Kickstart rounds that give participants the opportunity to grow their coding abilities, while getting a glimpse into the programming skills needed for a technical career at Google. There are 8 rounds held throughout the year, and you can participate in one or join them all! Check out a recent YouTube Live where Google engineers walk through tips on how to solve Kickstart problems. If you want to practice before the official rounds, check out previous problems from the competition and try them out for yourself.

Register here for Kickstart before Round A on March 18th. You can find the full schedule of online rounds here.

Code Jam: Want to put your coding skills to the test?

Code Jam is Google’s longest-running, global programming competition. Join programmers around the world to challenge yourself, test your coding skills, and practice in a fast-paced environment. The top 1,000 contestants receive limited edition t-shirts featuring code from the previous year’s competition. The top 25 finalists will head to Google's office in Toronto, Canada to attend the World Finals where they'll compete for a cash prize of up to $15,000. We'll livestream the whole event for fans to join in the action! If you want to begin practicing, get started by working your way through previous problems, and join us for a practice session beginning March 23rd at 18:00 UTC.

Be sure to register for Code Jam before the online Qualification Round begins on April 6th. You can see the full Code Jam schedule here.

Whether you are a student or programming professional, contestants are eligible to participate in both Kickstart and Code Jam.

We hope to see you on the scoreboard!