Category Archives: Student Blog

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Getting to know a research intern: Nicola Pezzotti

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 papers are even published.

Today we’re talking to PhD Research Intern, Nicola Pezzotti, coming to us from the Google AI team in Zürich. Read on!


So tell us about yourself and your PhD topic …
I’m a PhD student in the Computer Graphics & Visualization group at the Delft University of Technology. My research interest is mainly oriented towards the application of Machine Learning algorithms, in particular Manifold Learning techniques, in a Visual Analytics context.

I’m particularly interested in the extraction of knowledge from large and high-dimensional datasets without an a-priori model of what we can find in the data. This is particularly useful in the context of exploratory data analysis of medical data and for the interpretation of AI models.

How did you get to work in this area?
I remember implementing my first AI, a not-so-intelligent one that played Tic-Tac-Toe, during the first year of high-school and I have always been interested in AI since then.

That being said, during my years at the University of Brescia, I started focusing on general purpose graphics processing unit programming (GPGPU) for Geometry Processing and I left my passion for AI on the side. I really had a lot of fun in implementing general purpose algorithms that make use of graphics hardware, and I continued to do so in my first work in industry in 2011.

Four years ago, I founded a PhD position in the Computer Graphics & Visualization group in Delft. The position was within the ImaGene project and aimed at finding insights that can help address neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. I found the possibility to help in this domain very exciting and it gave me the opportunity to combine my knowledge of GPGPU techniques with my passion for AI.

Moreover, the name of the project is VAnPIRe, which gave me the opportunity to make a lot of silly jokes in the office ;)

Why did you apply for an internship at Google and how supportive was your PhD advisor?
GoogIe has top notch AI researchers – I wanted to join Google since the beginning of my PhD. My supervisor, Dr. Anna Vilanova, was very supportive and agreed with me that it would be an amazing opportunity to get in touch with some of these researchers and to make my research more impactful.

Last summer, I felt that I had enough contributions in the field to make my internship at Google a success. Hence, I applied for an internship in research at Google’s Zürich office. The hiring process was extremely fast and well handled and I found a host that was interested in my research topic.

What project was your internship focused on?
My host at Google is Alexander Mordvintsev, the creator of Google DeepDream. You may imagine the excitement that I had when I learned that I was chosen to support him in the development of novel techniques for better interpreting Deep Neural Networks results.

During my four month internship I worked on two different projects. First, I helped Alex in experimenting and getting DeepDream to work on different kinds of media, such as 3D objects and Compositional Pattern-Producing Network. This work focused on the artistic aspect of image parameterizations and is published on Distill.pub, an interactive and online journal. It has been particularly exciting to make the results of these techniques available to a large audience directly in the browser through Distill.pub, and reproducible in Google’s Colab Notebooks.

Then, I focused on developing a new implementation of the tSNE algorithm that scales to very large datasets and runs in the browser! tSNE is a manifold learning technique which is used to visualize high-dimensional feature vectors in 2-dimensional scatterplots while preserving the presence of clusters at different scales.

You may be familiar with its results due to its use for interpreting Deep Neural Network outputs in the TensorFlow Embedding Projector and TensorBoard. However, tSNE does not scale well to large datasets, due to its computational complexity. During my internship I developed a new implementation that scales much better thanks to a GPGPU approach that is implemented in WebGL. This implementation is released in the TensorFlow.js family ad you can try it directly in your browser.

I really liked this work as it shows how lateral thinking using a GPGPU approach can solve otherwise unscalable problems.

Did you publish at Google during your internship?
I did publish two papers, one for each project (ArXiV). I believe that my experience in Google will make my PhD thesis stronger and more impactful. I had the chance to publish on such a novel and creative journal such as Distill.pub, while remotely collaborating with researchers in Mountain View. It has been really a nice way to explore a new medium that brings academic knowledge to a large audience through easy to understand and interactive diagrams.

How closely connected was the work you did during your internship to your PhD topic?
Since I’ve been focusing on the scalability of the tSNE algorithm, in particular, and on Deep Neural Network understanding, in general, my work at Google was very much related to my PhD topic. You can read more about it here.

It has been particularly exciting to release my work as an open source work in the TensorFlow.js family. Bringing openly available algorithms to a larger audience is the icing on the cake for any PhD research.

Did you write your own code?
Writing code is my main driver and I’ve been happy to get in touch with so many exceptional programmers in Google. Releasing open source code has been very easy and I received a lot of support from different Google AI teams in Zürich and Cambridge.

What key skills have you gained from your time at Google?
I had the chance to work with a programming language, Typescript, that was completely new to me. It has also been really eye opening to learn how code is developed in a rigorous and high-quality way at Google.

What impact has this internship experience had on your PhD?
I see my experience at Google as the culmination of my PhD project.

I have been working on the topic of the scalability of manifold-learning algorithms such as tSNE for the last 3 years. Having an open source implementation that can run in the browser for large datasets is really satisfying and I can’t wait to see what other researchers can build using this code. I would not have been able to have had such exposure and impact without this experience.

Looking back on your experiences now: Why should a PhD student apply for an internship at Google? Any advice to offer?
Besides working closely with great researchers and engineers, I have to say that the most striking aspect of my time at Google was how wide the exposure to high quality and open research is.

Every week a number of extremely interesting guests are invited to host talks held in the office. You are free to join, either in person or on a video stream. Some days you really have to choose which one is the best to attend since they are so good and there are so many! If you join Google for an internship you should not miss them, they can help your research in unexpected ways.

Google Student Blog 2018-08-02 01:02:00

Welcome to the 30th 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 User Experience (UX) Engineer Intern, Shea Hunter Belsky. Read on!



Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I recently graduated from Cornell University, where I studied Information Science with a concentration in User Experience. The reason I can intern this summer is because I'm returning there in the Fall to finish a Master's in Information Science as well.

 I try to focus on the union of developers and user experience. I answer questions like: How can developers be meaningfully invested in the product design cycle? Can designers be more informed about technical constraints and limitations, in order to better inform the design cycle? And how can developers and designers support each other in their goals?

In my free time, I love to run, hike, snow-ski in the winter, waterski in the summer, and practice photography all year long. I'm also recently getting into Dungeons and Dragons!

What’s your role at Google?
I'm a User Experience Engineer (UXE) on the sumUX team, focusing on Search and Assistant. I focus on internal prototyping: empowering designers and researchers to answer the big questions they have, and validate (or invalidate) their research. The process of prototyping, and the tools we use to make it happen, promote much more rapid iteration and ideation. Prototyping allows researchers and designers to quickly identify good and bad things in designs, make adjustments, and test them again until they've got it just right. I’m currently working on a tool to optimize this process even further.

Complete the following: "I [choose one: code/create/design/build] for …"
I create for everyone. Though I work mostly with other Googlers, the ramifications of the prototypes I have worked on are very far-reaching – they’re used by millions of people. It may take a long time for my prototype to eventually become the “real thing”, but when it does, I know it won't just be a few people who use Assistant, but rather countless people who use it in their everyday lives.

What inspires you to come in every day?
Right now I've been working on a tool that will allow designers and researchers to create, edit, share, and test their own prototypes, rather than needing myself or another UX Engineer to make one. This makes the process of testing, evaluating, and improving upon designs even faster. Other tools do this to an extent, but the parameters of the prototypes that the designers and researchers need are such that using one of these tools would take more time than is necessary. I’m learning it's not necessary to over-engineer a solution when something simpler can do the exact same thing, but with faster results. This excites me because it empowers members of the design process to become more involved in the creation and ideation of a product.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
I'd applied to both the Software Engineering and Product Design roles in the past, but I didn't feel I fit strongly into either category. I had a great deal of experience in both areas (writing code and participating in the design process), but I still considered myself to be somewhere in between the two.

I discovered the UX Engineering internship role in early January, my senior year at Cornell, and it was love at first sight. Not only did I meet most of the qualifications, I felt like it was the perfect blend of development experience and design knowledge that I had been accumulating. It was the destination I didn't know I was heading towards until I saw the signs.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
I applied directly to the position on Google's job site (google.com/students). I was super appreciative of how timely, transparent, and thoughtful the recruitment process was. I had a very good idea of what was going to happen at every step of the process, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything during any step.

To finish, what do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
A UX Engineering interview is different from other engineering roles in that there's two different "lenses" to refer to a UXE – the developer-lens and the design-lens.

A developer-lens UXE writes production code, and should be familiar with writing performant and sustainable code for their platform of choice. I'm a web UXE, but there are UXE roles for other languages (I know we at least have Android and iOS UXEs.) Developer-lens UXEs collaborate with and report to software engineers more closely than designers and researchers. That being said, they are still informed in the design process and are familiar with what needs to happen in that regard.

A design-lens UXE focuses more on the design side, working with designers and researchers to help them do their jobs better (through prototyping, internal tooling, and whatever else they need). The obligations of a design UXE tend to vary on project, but focus on tooling and prototyping.

As a function of this, the interview for a UXE can vary from person to person. My interview was part development and part design, testing my general competency with web development and also evaluating my knowledge in UX. This is different from other kinds of interviews that focus on just one area or the other. That is something to be prepared for.

My Path To Google: Robert Maldonado, Engineering Practicum Intern

Welcome to the 29th 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.

To celebrate the upcoming #NationalInternDay, today’s post is all about one of our Engineering Practicum Interns, Robert Maldonado. Engineering Practicum is a 12-week internship for first and second-year undergraduate students with a passion for computer science. Keep our Engineering Practicum job listing bookmarked for when it re-opens in the Fall and, in the meantime, check out the FAQs. Read on!



Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a rising third year studying software engineering at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). I am very passionate about leadership, personal development, and community outreach. During my sophomore year, I served as Vice President of Outreach for the UCI Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). As a result, I was able to attend Google’s Hispanic Student Leadership Summit two years in a row. This upcoming year, I will be the student head of a planning committee for a regional SHPE conference for hundreds of SHPE members.

For over a year I’ve also been doing research in databases and distributed systems in a software engineering lab at UCI.

As a hobby, I love creating things through various art mediums such as painting, drawing, writing, sewing, and photography. I am always seeking opportunities to create new abstract projects!

What’s your role at Google?
I am an Engineering Practicum Intern for the Node Storage Team, which is a part of Technical Infrastructure. My work is centered around the Linux Operating System Kernel used at all of Google’s Data Centers. I love my work because it is very complex and every day I am learning something new!
Complete the following: "I [choose one: code/create/design/build] for..."
I create for a future where everyone has the opportunity to learn, develop, and prosper.

What inspires you to come in every day?
I love to come to work every day because my work is impactful and my team is amazing! I am very fortunate that my project will be making a real difference at Google. Although I’ll admit my project is a bit intimidating, my hosts and teammates are always more than happy to help. I love talking to my teammates at lunch and around the office, especially because they all embrace my nerdy weirdness!
Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
There are a lot of reasons why people would want to work at Google – the complex problems, the benefits, the pay, the work-life balance, the list goes on and on. That being said, I’ve always wanted to become a Googler because of Google’s culture and values, which aim to create positive change in the world.

During my freshman year of college, I found out about Google’s Engineering Practicum Internship (which is specifically for standing 1st and 2nd-year college students) and thought it was a perfect way to start a career as a Googler. Although I found out about the internship too late to apply my freshman year, I knew I wanted to apply during my second year.

I felt confident in my application because I used the prompts to express my passions and because I had developed significant professional/technical skills during my first year of college, however, the thought that thousands of people were applying for the same internship scared me a little.  Nevertheless, throughout the interview process I was determined to show how Googly I am.

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to interview and especially to receive an offer.

Robert presenting at #HSLS18


How did the recruitment process go for you?
My recruitment process was, unique, to say the least. I was referred to apply by my mentor, the software engineering PhD student who I do research with, and my application process was very smooth. My interview process wasn't as smooth as I expected, which had me pretty worried that I wouldn't make it! My recruiter helped navigate the issues I had, and it all worked out in the end because I was given an offer.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
I wish I would have started preparing for the technical interviews way earlier. In about a month and a half I prepared by learning about algorithms and data structures, doing practice problems on a whiteboard, and participating in mock interviews. Although I was able to cover a lot of content, there were a lot of sleepless nights involved.

In hindsight, I should have used the summer to prepare rather than squeezing it in during the fall quarter.

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prep?
To prepare for the technical interviews I watched a ton of videos. YouTube is a great way to learn about data structures and algorithms and to find practice problems. @GoogleStudents YouTube channel has a number of videos on technical questions that I watched.

To finish, do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
In no particular order, here are a few things that I would tell any aspiring Googler :)

1) Stay hungry
Google is looking for people that have a wide variety of skills and experiences, but sometimes gaining  those skills are hard and/or will make you uncomfortable, but only because you haven’t done them enough! Join clubs/programs that interest you, become a leader, build projects, do research, learn a new language – the possibilities are endless you just need to be hungry enough to take them.

2) Google does pretty much everything
Whether you are studying Software Engineering, Business, Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, Teaching, or anything in between/outside there is a pretty good chance that Google needs someone like you!

3) Non desistas, non exieris (never give up, never surrender)
Life is hard, and sometimes things don’t go as planned, but never ever give up on accomplishing your dreams. The most passionate and successful Googlers that I personally know come from tough backgrounds!

4) You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take
The following are all true: Google is a huge company, a ton of people apply, very few people get in, you can do anything you put your mind to, applying to Google can be intimidating but it is far from impossible, you can do it.


2018 Online Marketing Challenge teams up with Google Ad Grants – registration open now!

Don't miss out on your chance to bring marketing theory to life through a practical hands-on learning experience. Over the past few months, we've been listening to your feedback and exploring opportunities to continue to engage, empower and grow students in the digital marketing space. Today, we are excited to announce that the foundation of the Online Marketing Challenge (OMC) will be returning in partnership with nonprofits from the Google Ad Grants program!


What is the Online Marketing Challenge again?

OMC is a unique opportunity for students to get real-world experience creating and executing online marketing campaigns for real nonprofits through the Google Ad Grants program. Ad Grants empowers over 38,000 nonprofit organizations with free in-kind AdWords advertising of up to $10,000 a month. The new OMC will pair student teams with Ad Grants’ nonprofit organizations for students to gain valuable real-world skills through working with nonprofits’ AdWords accounts and drive real social impact. OMC is a great way to increase your depth of experience on your resume and develop your skill set, all while helping nonprofits change the world!


Who can participate?
The Challenge is open to higher education students from undergraduate or graduate programs, regardless of major. Students must form teams of 2-5 members and register under a verified faculty member, lecturer or instructor currently employed by an accredited higher education institute. Google will partner student teams with select nonprofits that are a part of the Ad Grants program and have opted in to participate in the Challenge.


How does it work?
1. Student teams of 2-5 members review Online marketing trainings, build their digital skills and pass the Academy for Ads AdWords Fundamentals Exam.
2. Student teams partner with an Ad Grants nonprofit, meet with the organization to understand their cause, audience and goals, evaluate their existing campaign structure and performance, and develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
3. Using the free Google Ad Grants AdWords advertising budget — up to $10,000 USD per month — student teams develop and execute online advertising campaigns over the course of at least 4 weeks to help drive conversions for their nonprofit partner.
4. At the end of the partnership, student teams complete a Post-Campaign Analysis and deliver future recommendations to their nonprofit partner to help them continue to thrive online.
5. Student teams that demonstrate strong AdWords knowledge, develop a thorough online marketing strategy, execute optimized AdWords campaigns and provide a post-campaign analysis with future recommendations for their nonprofit partner will receive a personalized certificate from Google recognizing their academic achievement and social impact. Top performing teams also have the opportunity to submit their story to be featured in Google’s Social Impact Spotlight Series.

Registration is now open through the official website. Before registering, please familiarize yourself with our guidelines, as well as Ad Grants’ program policies and limitations. For any questions, please first review our FAQs page


The future coders of America: Google’s Code Next graduates its first cohorts

What does it take to make a computer scientist? Equipment? Sure. Sufficient learning opportunities? Sounds about right. Passion, enthusiasm, and a motivation to change the world? According to the recent graduates of the Code Next Launch program, those last few items are non-negotiables.

New York City’s Andrea Fernandez gets high fives from her fellow Code Next students.
Code Next, a free, Google-run computer science education program for Black and Hispanic high schoolers, started nearly three years ago as an idea sprung from the brain of Google's Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Nilka Thomas. In a commitment to cultivating young Black and Hispanic tech leaders, Code Next’s first signature program, a ninth through tenth grade crash-course in computer science and leadership called Team Edge, began with 37 eighth graders in two labs on opposite ends of the country—one in New York City and one in Oakland—in the spring of 2016.

Now, fresh out of the tenth grade, those same 37 students have graduated from the Team Edge program with a deep knowledge of programming, several prototypes of apps and websites, and a competitive hackathon under their belts—not to mention Google mentors who met with them every week through the entirety of their tenth grade year.

Oakland's Devin Frisbey celebrates with her superlative award, given to her by her cohort-mates.
“This is an amazing and momentous occasion because these kids have been dedicating a significant amount of time to this program for three years,” shares April Alvarez, one of two original Student Experience Managers for Code Next and current Pipeline Programs Manager for the Pipeline and Integration Team. “This is a great example of what happens when communities come together with an organization like Google. Families and students get the support and resources they need to thrive in the tech world— an ever-changing job market—and Google witnesses the power of the innovations these kids bring to the table.”

Graduation celebrations took place in both New York City and Oakland at each cohort’s lab space, with several students sharing their work and learnings they’d collected from their first two years with Code Next.

Oakland student Jorvir Llanes shared his nostalgia and hopes for the future, saying, “Having a culture where we love each other like family and respect each other, including when we make mistakes, is great. I really want this culture to pass onto our rising tenth graders.”


New York City’s first-ever Code Next cohort celebrates their graduation from Team Edge.
“These kids are really growing into their roles as tech leaders, both here at Code Next and in their own schools and communities. It is going to be great seeing what happens when they are able to deep dive in areas of passion for each of them. We have kids who are already skilled at 3D design/modeling, animation, game development, back-end development, and much more,” says Idris Brewester, a New York City computer science coach who has been with Cohort One since the beginning.

But this is only the beginning, Brewster adds, as students are gearing up to move into the next phase in Code Next’s program offerings: the Launch program, aimed at 11th and 12th graders.

“I am excited to see them tackle those areas and use their robust foundation that they’ve developed over these last two years,” he smiles.


New York City, New York Cohort
Oakland, California Cohort
Andrea Fernandez
Gerardo Arteaga-Garcia
Andres Murillo
Salvador Avelar
Chelsea Lantigua
Bianca Burciaga
Cindy Hernandez
José Ceja Romero
Corey Carter
Elias Cruz
Gerald Howell
James Dominguez
Giovanni Taveras
Julio Flores
Julie Leon Marcos
Valeria Fornes
Justin Millien
Jessica Franco
Kaiya Idlett
Devin Frisbey
Kevin Medina
Lita Hernandez
Khemasia Pierce
Adalberto Jimenez
Maëlle Sannon
Jovir Llanes
Naia Crump
Orlando Molina
Odalis Bonilla
Emily Ronquillo
Raymond Koratrang
Edgar Suarez
Sarah George
Phu Vo
Shawn West

Tasnim Nahar

Yenry Simon



Congratulations to these 37 students. Interested in learning more about Code Next? Sign up for the quarterly newsletter to receive updates about the program.

Google Travel Grant Application: 2018 Grace Hopper Conference – Apply Now

As part of Google's ongoing commitment to increase the number of women in engineering, we are excited to offer travel grants to the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference taking place in Houston, TX from Sept 26-28th. Once again, this year’s conference will offer incredible opportunities for mentoring, networking and career development.

University students and industry professionals in the US and Canada who are excelling in computer science and passionate about supporting women in tech can apply for a travel grant to attend the 2018 Grace Hopper conference.

The Grace Hopper Travel Sponsorship includes:
  • Round trip flight to Houston,TX (from within the US or Canada)
  • Conference registration
  • Reimbursement for ground transportation to and from the airport and the hotel
  • Arranged hotel accommodations from Sept 25-29
  • $100 USD reimbursement for miscellaneous travel costs
  • A fun event specifically for travel grant recipients on one of the evenings of the conference!

Please apply here by July 22nd at 11:59pm PDT. The Grace Hopper Travel Sponsorship winners will be announced by mid-August.

For questions, please email ghctravelgrant@google.com.

My Path to Google: Divya Tyam, Software Engineer (Google AI)

Welcome to the 28th 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 Divya Tyam. Read on!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Bangalore, India, where I completed my undergrad in Information Science and Engineering. I came to the US to attend grad school at Carnegie Mellon University, where I received a master's degree in Computer Engineering.

While I was picking my major for undergrad, I was looking for a field that was interdisciplinary and would combine my creative inclinations with practical applications. Computer science seemed like a very obvious choice, and that has proven right in all these years. I've been lucky to have been in a field where I've been able to meld my interests in art, photography, mathematics, and social sciences all into one career.

I tend to pick up new hobbies all the time – the most recent ones have been improv theater, sewing, photography, and drawing. I've also done theatre, music, painting, and more.

What’s your role at Google?
I am a Software Engineer working in a team called Cerebra, part of Google AI, where I work on on-device intelligence. My most recent work has been on Google Clips, a camera built for automatic photography.

Aside from being a camera with a cool application, what's remarkable is that all of the AI runs continuously on device, which poses new and interesting technical challenges.

What inspires you to come in every day?
I am very inspired by the work we're doing around AI, solving a wide range of issues spanning both technical as well as ethical.

One of the areas I work on is ML Fairness, where we're bringing attention to the need for inclusive machine learning algorithms. This includes ensuring that our AI is trained and validated on diverse datasets, as well as exploring techniques in model training that mitigate unintended biases. With the democratization of AI, the work in this field will be crucial in ensuring that innovations in AI across the industry are useful for everyone.

This area also aligns with my interests in the broader idea of diversity and global citizenship, something I’m active in outside of work, as a Senior Fellow and Board Member of the Melton Foundation.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
After I finished my undergrad, a friend lent me a book about Google. As I was reading through it, I realized that Google was my kind of place and I simply had to be there. That being said, my path to Google wasn't a straight line. I worked at IBM and Microsoft for a few years learning the ropes as an engineer. These experiences were helpful to me and and my personal path to Google.

My priority has always been to work on things that interest me, so I'm glad that I chose the path that I did, because I learnt a lot of things and met a lot of great people along the way.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
I was referred to Google by a former co-worker. My interview process was great and I left with a good feeling about it. I also worked with a really awesome recruiter who helped me navigate the whole process with ease.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
I'll be candid and say that I didn't make it through the Google interviews on my first try. Part of the process of getting it right on my next try was to refresh my CS problem solving skills. As someone who was working in the industry at that time, it took me a while to realize that being able to demonstrate strong skills in CS fundamentals was always going to be important, irrespective of how many years of work experience I'd rack up.

My challenge with design interviews was that I didn't have experience in large scale distributed systems at that time, so I had to rely on theoretical knowledge. I was honest about this with my interviewer, and that helped put me at ease through the interview.

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
I went through the usual list of resources my recruiter shared with me.  One thing that I did to adapt to my specific learning technique was to pick a problem and then spend days thinking about different ways to solve it as well as different ways that it could be formulated.

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.