Category Archives: Student Blog

Google news and updates especially for students

Applications are open for 2018 scholarship opportunities in the US, Canada, and EMEA!

Google is proud to offer academic scholarships and development opportunities to students from historically underrepresented groups pursuing computer science degrees. We aim to help students from diverse backgrounds become future leaders and role models in computing and technology by breaking down the barriers that prevent them from entering these fields.  


Selected students will receive a financial award for the 2018-19 academic year and be invited to the annual Google Scholars' Retreat in their region next summer. At the retreat, scholars will participate in networking and development sessions, including sessions on how to lead outreach in their communities. Scholars also join long term a community of former scholarship recipients for continued networking and development.  Check out each program below:

Women Techmakers Scholars Program (United States/Canada/EMEA - Asia Pacific will open in early 2018)
The Women Techmakers Scholars Program (formerly known as  the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship) continues to honor Dr. Anita Borg and her legacy of encouraging the presence of women in computing. The program is open to current undergraduate or graduate students who identify as female who will be studying at a university for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Generation Google Scholarship (United States/Canada)
The Generation Google Scholarship was established to help aspiring computer scientists excel in technology and become leaders in the field. This program supports current university students from underrepresented groups including African American, Hispanic, American Indian or Filipino/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander who will be studying at a university for the 2018-2019 academic year.
The Generation Google Scholarship for current high school seniors in the United States/Canada will open in early 2018.

We’re continuing to partner with Lime Connect (United States/Canada) and EmployAbility (Europe) - nonprofit organizations that support students with disabilities while they pursue education and promising careers - to help university students with disabilities work toward their academic goals in the field of computer science. The scholarship is open to current undergraduate or graduate students with disabilities who will be studying at a university for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Google established the Google SVA Scholarship in partnership with Student Veterans of America in 2012 as part of our commitment to military veterans. The scholarship provides assistance to student veterans or students on Active Duty who are pursuing a degree in computer science at a university for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Please visit each program’s website for specific details, application information, and deadlines. We encourage all students who meet the eligibility criteria to apply!

My Path to Google: Aurelie Chazal, Support Specialist

Welcome to the tenth 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 Aurelie Chazal. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Clermont-Ferrand in France and had a bit of an unusual academic path. I first did a Bachelor’s in Applied Foreign Languages with English & Mandarin and then went on to do a Master’s in New Media Communication. I always joked I was a Googler before joining Google, because I was good at finding things online but I never actually had any contact with Google before I was hired two years ago.



What’s your role at Google?
I’m part of the gTech organization within Google, and I support our biggest app advertisers when they have technical issues or complex questions around AdWords. I had almost no experience with AdWords when I started, and I love the fact that I got the chance to become a real expert in my product area within two years on the team.

In addition to my day-to-day support role, I’m also very involved with diversity and inclusion, and I currently lead a project meant to empower small, LGBT-owned businesses by teaching them the basics of online marketing.



What inspires you to come in every day?
The people on my team are, without a doubt, my biggest source of inspiration and motivation. I had heard that working at Google meant being surrounded by smart, open-minded people, but I never actually thought it would play that big of a role in my wellbeing at work. This is the first job where I can fully be myself and have so much fun while doing my job!



Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
When I applied for a job at Google, I was working for a small Polish startup. I was the only non-Polish person and the only girl on a team of around 10 people. I had always been interested in joining Google, but what really pushed me to apply is that I knew I needed to move to a more diverse working environment if I wanted to be happier at work. I didn’t think I’d actually have a chance to be hired at Google, but I saw an opening and decided to go for it.



How did the recruitment process go for you?
I found out there was a job opening in the city I live in through an expat Facebook group. I wrote to the girl who posted about the opening with my CV, and she sent my CV to the Google recruiters. I got an email back a few days later, asking to set up an initial phone interview. The process was really smooth after that. I did one more phone interview and three on-site interviews at the end. While some questions were tough, I don’t remember receiving any “trick” questions. The entire process was really enjoyable, and the conversations I had during the interviews were an amazing sneak peek into what it’s like to work on the team.



What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
I wish I had known a little more about what the day-to-day job looked like. My one recommendation to anyone who starts an interview process with Google would be to try and get in touch with Googlers working for the team you’re looking to join and ask them what a typical day looks like for them. It’s the best way to get the right expectations about the job and prepare for the interviews.



Can you tell us more about the resources you used to prep?
I went through recent articles from the Inside AdWords blog and tried to remember 2-3 upcoming changes that were announced, along with the potential challenges and opportunities that would come with them. This was specific to my experience, as my job was going to be with AdWords, but my goal was to find topics to discuss that would be relevant to me and the job I was applying for in case I got any questions about Google.



To finish, do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Research the position you are applying for and prepare! Your academic background, your grades, your previous work experience, etc. won’t matter as much as you showing motivation and interest in the company and the position you are applying for.

Don’t be the one putting yourself down. You really have nothing to lose by trying, so apply, do your research, and don’t give up if you get one or two rejections. Sometimes, timing isn’t in your favor, or the team you applied for wasn’t the best fit for you. It doesn’t mean you are not a fit for Google as a whole!

My Path to Google: Jasmine Collins, Google Brain Residency Alumna

Welcome to the ninth 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 Jasmine Collins. Read on!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I stayed local for college, and went to the University of Pittsburgh, where I double majored in neuroscience and computer science, and minored in chemistry. My dream is to contribute to bridging the gap between computer intelligence and human intelligence. Outside of work, I really enjoy plants and gardening. Also, I love dogs!


What’s your role at Google?
I was on the Google Brain team as a part of the first iteration of the Google Brain Residency Program — a year long training program in deep learning research. For me, it was really excellent to have the opportunity to take a year off between undergraduate and grad school and get some real world work/research experience. Being a Google Brain resident definitely solidified my decision to go to grad school, and helped me bulk up my resume to get into one of the top universities for artificial intelligence/deep learning research — UC Berkeley!

During the residency, I was able to publish my first, first-author paper. In it, we experimentally investigated the tradeoffs across different recurrent neural network architectures in terms of capacity and trainability. The project involved running thousands of optimizations in parallel, over many, many weeks. I really enjoyed this project, as it was something that could only be done with Google-scale infrastructure, but it had findings that could be applicable to the rest of the research community.


What inspires you to come in every day?
My favorite part about coming in every day was the lunch conversations with my regular lunch group. We’d talk about everything from new arXiv papers to crazy startup ideas, debugging code, the validity of Simulation Theory, how long until self-driving cars become a reality, etc. We argued about pretty much every topic in a constructive way, which caused me to think thoroughly and critically about my own beliefs. There was never a dull lunch!


Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
I applied for the residency during my senior year in undergrad, mostly as a backup for graduate school. I had previously applied for a summer internship at Google (with dreams of working with the Google Brain team) and made it through interviews, but ultimately never got host-matched. I was pretty thrilled when I was offered the Google Brain Residency position, and didn’t have to think much before deciding to accept it and defer grad school for a year.


How did the recruitment process go for you?
I actually found out about the residency the day before applications closed. On that day, I was going about my business when my adviser asked me to look into TensorFlow and determine whether or not it was worth switching to (at the time we were using Caffe for our neural net training). In doing so, I stumbled across a set of slides for a talk that Jeff Dean gave at a small conference, which talked about recent TensorFlow improvements and also announced the start of a new training program called the Google Brain Residency. It sounded pretty cool, so I quickly repurposed my grad school application personal statement into a cover letter for the job and applied within the hour. Looking back on how competitive the program selection was that year, and how arbitrary it was that I even discovered the program in time, I feel very lucky to have stumbled across that slide deck!


What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
In retrospect, I wish that I had reached out and spoken to more people about their research ideas during my time at Google. I started out feeling pretty intimidated by all of the great researchers on the team, and I didn’t really realize until closer to the end of my year there that they are almost all very willing and excited to talk about their work with anyone who is willing to listen.


Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
The interviews for the residency consisted of both a research and coding interview. Being a computer science major, and having had a good amount of coding experience, I felt pretty well prepared for the coding interview. I was much less prepared for the research interview, and I honestly don’t think I did a very good job conveying my previous research experience. It’s likely that the only thing that saved me was my enthusiastic proposal for research that I could do at Google, given the resources and mentorship.

My advice for others who are preparing for a research-style interview is to practice by giving a talk to your lab or class about one of your research projects in order to make sure you can give a clear, concise description of your work, and handle any potentially difficult questions.


Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
I think Google really likes people who are passionate about what they do. If you’re passionate about something that is relevant to the position you’re applying for, make sure to express this in your application.




The Google Brain Residency Program is now known as the Google AI Residency Program! Head over to http://g.co/airesidency to find out more about our program, the recent changes, and how to apply.

Contest Spotlight: Pay It Forward Challenge in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month


Are you a social change agent in your community or know someone who is?

If so, we invite you to join Google’s annual Pay It Forward Challenge!

At Google, we value diversity and inclusion, and we support individuals who do the same. Our Staffing Programs team is celebrating diversity and honoring Hispanic Heritage Month by inviting individuals — students and professionals — to showcase how they have positively impacted their local communities.

Last year, we showcased Oscar Cazalez and Luis Narvaez, who collectively are advancing the lives of many people across the country through their social impact work.

The deadline to enter the challenge is Friday, October 27th, 2017 at 11:59 pm PST. Submissions will be judged by a team of Googlers, who will be assessing the innovation, scale, and the short- and long-term impact of the work.

To both enter the competition and get more info, visit our 2017 Hispanic Heritage Month, Pay It Forward website.

We look forward to seeing your submission!
The Google Staffing Programs team

My Path to Google: Jesse Melhuish, Software Engineer

Welcome to the eighth installment of our blog series “My Path to Google.” These are real stories from Googlers 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 Jesse Melhuish. Read on!

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in a small town in Kentucky called Berea, which is known for its arts and crafts as well as Berea College. I then attended the University of Kentucky and earned a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Computer Engineering. Outside of work, I like to go hiking when I can, collect Lego sets, play racquetball, and read. I’m also deeply interested in Computer Science education and try to encourage high school students from my hometown to pursue computing.

What’s your role at Google?
I'm a Software Engineer (SWE) on the Newsstand Web team, which delivers the Newsstand WebApp found at newsstand.google.com. I'm just getting started on this team, but I’m excited about all of the improvements planned for the news experience.

What inspires you to come in every day?
Lower income areas, such as my hometown, can be greatly benefited by Google's products and I enjoy knowing that indirectly I can help with that. I’m really excited about the spread of Chromebooks that should help to improve access to technology, and I recently found out (while working on Docs Offline) that the high school I went to switched to Google Apps for Education!

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
Google has been where I've wanted to work since almost middle school. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it through and would need to work locally for a few years and apply again, so I didn't apply until I was contacted.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
I was contacted by a recruiter that got my name from a friend that had applied my senior year of college. I went through the hiring process during November/Christmas/New Years and had a lot of anxiety — decisions were delayed due to people on vacation and end of year hecticness.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
I wish I would have had more examples of my work to be able to show on my resume.

Can you tell us more about the resources you used to prep?
I did practice coding problems for about three days leading up to my phone interview.

To finish, do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Don't assume you're not good enough, or you'll panic or not try in the interviews. On the opposite side, don't assume you don't need to prepare. Most likely you're good enough to make it, but you should also refresh yourself beforehand.

Want to learn more about the Engineering Residency? Head over to g.co/EngResidency. Ready to apply to the residency? We're currently accepting applications at https://goo.gl/rhBmj1.

Asia-Pacific Google Intern Insights: Engineering and MBA interns share their stories

From Google Home to Maps, AdWords to Docs, our interns have the opportunity to work on some of Google’s most cutting edge and innovative projects. Interns work across sales, engineering, and other business functions, bringing a fresh perspective to Google. To show just how much of an impact interns make, we’re bringing you our Asia-Pacific Google Intern Insights. Today we’re catching up with FOUR interns: Mercy Fang, Software Engineering Intern, Beijing, China; Jim Chen, Software Engineering Intern, Beijing, China; Nagea Astiarini Delaya, MBA Intern, Indonesia; and Snigdha Singhania, Software Engineering Intern, Singapore. Read on!

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Mercy Fang, Software Engineering Intern, Beijing, China

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Jim Chen, Software Engineering Intern, Beijing, China
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Nagea Astiarini Delaya, MBA Intern, Indonesia

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Snigdha Singhania, Software Engineering Intern, Singapore



Tell us one fun, outlandish fact about you!
Mercy: I don’t have just one! I love travelling and have already been to 20 countries. I’ve also tried extreme sports like bungee jumping, paragliding, and parasailing. My favorite music is rock, and I was the lead singer and guitarist in my band back in high school. Two years ago I found out about drumming ,and now I’m also a drummer.
Jim: I could solve Rubik’s cubes from Pocket Cube (2x2x2) to V-Cube 9 (9x9x9) when I was in high school.
Nagea: I am a trained classical chorister — I sing classical songs (i.e. Bach, Beethoven, and Whitacre) with a choir. In July 2009, my choir and I sang (and won) in choir competitions and festivals in 15 cities across five countries in Europe.
Snigdha: My intern host and I have a routine alarm, twice a day, to do push-ups together. We're pretty serious about it — so much so that it's even marked on our calendars!




What inspired you to apply for this internship, and what made Google appealing to you?
Mercy: I started learning Computer Science two years ago and I thought I would learn more if I interned at a large-scale company with many different projects, like small startups. Google is exactly this kind of company. I interned at Google Mountain View last summer (my sophomore year) as an Engineering Practicum intern and then this summer returned as a Software Engineering intern in the Beijing office.
Jim: There are a considerable number of talented computer science students at school, and many of them shared their previous experiences at Google, so I set a goal for myself and aimed to be able to catch up with them. Google is a leading company in computer science and engineering, so I really appreciated an opportunity to work with smart people and awesome tech groups. Then, about one year ago, I registered for a few online courses that introduced specific programming languages and advanced topics, like machine learning and computer vision. I then completed several projects applying those new techniques, which also enhanced my strength in coding and program design.
Nagea: I have been a true believer of Solow Growth Model — a Nobel Prize winner for economics — since I learned it last semester at the Darden School. For the past 15 years, I have witnessed Google move tech progression forward, which makes living life and doing business much easier, and I wanna be part of that.
Snigdha: My colleagues from a previous internship inspired me to apply! Being part of a community that is striving to make a positive impact in everyone's life  (and succeeding) is extremely gratifying. Also, isn't it just so cool to say you work for Google :)?




What team are you working on at Google? Can you provide us with a high-level description of your summer project?
Mercy: I worked on a new Face Detection feature for the Street View iOS app. When users upload 360 photos, they could click a button and it will automatically detect faces, and users could blur them. The work is on a large scale diffing testing platform that’s used to detect code outputs in order to verify that code changes result in intended output changes and work as expected. It helps ensure the reliability and correctness of code.
Jim: I’m currently working on the Search Developers Services team, which mainly focuses on easy tools for web and app developers. My project essentially contains two parts — to build a web tool for Podcast developers, and a tool for Android developers. This project is not only an independent one, but will also benefit developers. I feel quite lucky to work on this project from scratch.
Nagea: I worked with Google's Large Customer Sales team in Indonesia, and over my summer internship I worked on projects involving some of Google's most exciting challenges in building sustainable, high-growth businesses in Indonesia.
Snigdha: I'm working with Team Allo in Singapore. This summer, the goal of my project was to enhance the user experience provided by this chat platform, particularly for the Next Billion Users.




What’s the best part about working at Google?
Mercy: Working at Google and with my team is not all about programming. It feels like a lifestyle instead of just a job. In the beginning of my internship, our Beijing team hosted a summit and invited people from other offices. We had a couple of days of intensive discussion on various topics about the diffing testing platform, and as a result, I had a more comprehensive understanding of the platform. We had a team-building event on the last day and went to HouHai and Hutong. These were a lot of fun, and it felt like the team was a family.
I also had access to search on the Google code base, which allowed me to see other people’s code and learn about other projects. Google also has many online courses and tech talks every week that introduce you to various coding skills. So coming in means making progress and learning new things.
Jim: Googlers at my office have established many fun clubs, including a bunch of very interesting topics like latte art, board games, and various sports activities. Folks around me are not just working and coding all day — they have exuberant daily lives other than working. For me, since I’m a beginner at piano, I like to spend one hour a day practicing at my office. We all know that Google embraces and advocates for diversity, but I’d like to add that Google roots for and help Googlers build their own distinctions as well.
Nagea: First, my manager is an extremely funny person, I can't remember any meetings without her humor. It really helped me loosen up, especially before presenting to higher-level people at the company. Second, but probably best of all, she wanted me to succeed. Despite her packed schedule, she ensured that I am working on a meaningful project that the team could use after my internship, and provided me with all of the resources and network she has. My team shares this trait — they would sit with me and share all the knowledge I needed for my project and for my professional aspirations.
Snigdha: Working with host has been such a delight! Not only is she open to every Allo idea that I have (no matter how bizarre they are), she also helps me pitch them to the team. She is always willing to answer my questions about my project, the team, or even which course I should take in uni next term. Speaking of my team, in general, they are some of the smartest people I have come across, never shying away from helping me in any way they can. Keeping work aside, having asinine but extraordinary lunch conversations is something that I will surely miss about this group.




What does “being Googley” mean to you?
Jim: Google’s policies have been very flexible for Googlers. As an engineer, I think “being Googley” could be interpreted as “being self-driven.” We need to be active to push forward our progress, be willing to collaborate with people with a variety of backgrounds, and be passionate to derive any innovative ideas which could possibly make a huge difference. Seizing every tiny moment to contribute to the entire community is also crucial.
Nagea: Being Googley means being able to navigate through uncertainty and chaos. Google is all about uncharted territory — creating new products, building new businesses, telling new stories, inventing new ways of life. Observing my team here, “being Googley” is their ability to find structure in such uncertain situations that help guarantee them success.
Snigdha: Embracing the open culture and transparency at Google is what defines Googleyness for me. This sharing culture teaches you something new every day — be it from a senior software engineer, your manager, or an intern. Everyday breakfast/lunch conversations range from the latest machine learning tools and Firebase issues to "why can't emus walk backwards?”




If you could give one piece of advice to potential student applicants, what would it be?
Mercy: Practice programming as much as possible. Complete software engineering projects. Practice data structure and algorithm questions for programming interviews. But not just that! Some interview questions test your problem-solving skills, which takes practice and experience. I think Cracking the Coding Interview is a good book to read for interview preparation. It gives tips and also some sample practice problems.
Jim:
- Polish your coding ability as much as you can. Tech companies are mostly asking their applicants to complete a couple of coding challenges in the interview, so it’s a fundamental and crucial requirement to move forward your application. There are many online resources, so make good use of them as soon as possible. If you don’t have a lot of experience solving coding challenges, you may find it a bit difficult even when working on some questions that seem easy. Don’t get scared, and be patient. Read other people’s solutions step-by-step and you’ll gradually (but definitely) improve.
- Be active in the interview. Don’t hesitate to demonstrate your idea. If the interview question is not something you are familiar with, it’s really hard to instantly come up with a perfect or optimal solution at the very beginning. Don’t worry about that; interviewers are actually expecting that. What you should do is take a short while to think on you own, and if you get stuck at some phase, just speak out loud, show that you’ve been thinking, and ask for a potential hint or feedback. The interviewer wants to see how you respond, so don’t be silent for too long. Consider the interview a collaboration with your teammate.
Snigdha: My colleagues from a previous internship helped me prepare for the interview process — my friend and I would spend hours discussing several algorithms and data structure questions everyday. This boosted my confidence and encouraged me to apply for this summer internship.

My Path to Google: Maegan Clawges, User Experience (UX) Engineer

Welcome to the seventh installment of our blog series “My Path to Google”. These are real stories from Googlers 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 Maegan Clawges. Read on!
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Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, in the Appalachian mountains. I was exposed to a lot of local art there which inspired me to study design in college. Once in college, I realized that being able to code would increase the impact of my design work so I added a second degree in computer science.

What’s your role at Google?
I’m a UX Engineer at YouTube in the art department. We are an interdisciplinary team that works on brand and design language for all YouTube products. As a UX Engineer I work on tools for the design team, in addition to writing full-stack production code to build infrastructure for our design goals.

What inspires you to come in every day?
I am inspired every day by the people on my team — they have a wide array of skills and experience that I learn from. Working with them pushes me to do my best creative work.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
I was drawn to Google because of its dedication to innovation and helping the world. The Google Doodles inspired me creatively and influenced me to start learning to code.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
I first joined Google as a software engineering intern. During college I got to know my university's Google recruiter through an event I organized for women in tech. She was super supportive throughout my internship and full-time application process. I applied to four different roles at Google because I wasn't sure where I fit as a hybrid engineer and designer, and I was impressed by how they managed my parallel application paths and how they offered me advice along the way.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
I wish I had learned more in school about how to collaborate within a large company. Even at YouTube, which is smaller, I work with designers and engineers throughout the company and it’s awesome, but communicating at that scale is a skill in itself.

Can you tell us more about the resources you used to prep?
For the technical interviews, I mainly focused on practicing algorithm-based questions. I remember spending an entire weekend in front of a whiteboard before my intern interview. I also read as much as I could about Google, since I decided early on that it was the company I wanted to work for. Having that background information helped me integrate when I joined and ask better questions.

To finish, do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

First, focus on developing skills in the areas that interest you, even if they’re interdisciplinary. Then, figure out how that skill set fits into Google's products and goals. A good mentor can help with that. Finally, get really good at telling your story, about your skill set and where you want to be in the future.

Computer Science Summer Institute: Q&A with participants Adela and Jessica

Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI), a tech program for rising college freshman, just celebrated its 10th summer. To mark this milestone, today we’re featuring Adela and Jessica, two CSSI participants. We’re proud of how this program has impacted the hundreds of students who have experienced its magic, and hope you enjoy their stories. Read on!

Adela Chavez, Los Angeles CSSI participant

Despite facing many challenges, including homelessness, Adela has never stopped chasing her dreams. While balancing a job and caring for her siblings, she also began learning about computer science and exploring coding. In the future, she hopes to be a mentor to others with similarly difficult backgrounds.

Jessica Morales-Mendoza, Seattle CSSI participant
Jessica has overcome obstacles throughout her life, as well. Coming from a low-income household of seven, she has found time to not only care for many of her siblings, but to also participate in robotics and programming at her school. Going forward, her dream is to work for the FBI’s Cyber Security Unit.



Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Adela:
I want to make an impact. I want to be the reason that someone gains the confidence to follow their dreams. I have gone through plenty of hardships in my life, whether it was having to work when I was just 15 years old to help alleviate family expenses, having to stay up all night to take care of my siblings while my mother and sister worked the graveyard shift, or even being homeless at times during my senior year. If it weren't for the people who believed in me and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams, I don't think I would be here today.

Jessica:
I grew up in a low-income, immigrant household of seven in Los Angeles, CA. At the age of thirteen, due to a family circumstance, I had to mature and be the older sister when I was actually one of the youngest. My parents were depressed and had fallen into alcoholism, while my brother was struggling with drug addiction.

During that very difficult part of my life, I began participating in afterschool programs, including robotics and game jams hosted by my CS (computer science) teachers. I discovered that programming has a lot of purposes, from creating robots, bringing crazy ideas to life, stopping cyber crimes and more.

In the fall, I will begin attending California State University, Los Angeles. I am passionate about helping others succeed, especially those from tough financial situations or circumstances. Besides that, I am obsessed with aliens and UFOs!


What motivated you to apply to CSSI?
Adela:
For me, it was when I realized that computer science provided a way for me to escape poverty and secure a career that I was interested in. I knew that this path would allow me to create programs that could provide help for those who need it.

However, going into CSSI, I wasn’t entirely sure if computer science was for me. I knew that it had many interesting aspects, but I wanted to get more hands-on experience before making a final decision. After the incredible experiences I had at CSSI, I am now 100% ready to dedicate myself to this field.

Jessica:
I actually found out about CSSI when I was applying to Google’s Generation Scholarship. After reading the program description, I was hooked! When I first applied, I didn’t really think I had a chance of getting accepted (imposter syndrome), but I’m so glad that I went ahead and applied anyway. If I hadn’t taken a chance on it, I would’ve missed out on so much.

What do you wish you’d known before you arrived at Google for CSSI?
Adela:
That it’s okay to ask for help. Growing up, I was the first in my family to go beyond middle school and take difficult classes, so I was always forced to figure things out on my own. I wasn't used to asking for help or admitting when I didn't know what was going on.

When I came into this program and actually learned that asking for help is encouraged, I initially struggled to accept it, which might have prevented me from fully understanding what was being taught. Eventually, I realized that if I wanted to get the most out of the program, I had to start asking for help.

Jessica:
I wish I’d known how hard it would be to leave this amazing experience! The amount of tears falling from our faces when it was time to say our goodbyes demonstrated how much we had grown together. It was such a blessing to meet people with open minds and heartwarming love. We all had different stories and perspectives, but were so supportive of one another.


Can you tell us how the CSSI experience has impacted you?
Adela:
This program has truly been a life-changing experience for me. Before this program, I didn't have any confidence in myself. I didn't think I was smart enough to do computer science. I didn't think that I would be able to create applications that could help people. I didn't think that I was able to present in front of an audience. But now I know that I can do all of these things and more. As long as I work smart, use all the resources at my disposal correctly, and build up my courage, I can do whatever I set my mind to.

Jessica:
At CSSI, I learned about imposter syndrome. What is that, you may ask? The feelings that make us feel unworthy, when in reality, we are qualified. Learning about this was huge for me, as I’ve often struggled with self-doubt.

I also gained communication skills, confidence, and of course, coding experience. Although my communication skills and confidence have a lot more to grow, this experience was a start that I feel really blessed to have enjoyed.


What are you going to miss most from your CSSI experience once you leave?
Adela:
I'm going to miss feeling like a valued part of a company. Going back to my regular job will be hard—it's just not the same as Google.

Jessica:
I’m going to miss the family that was created at the beginning of this new path of my life. The people around me made me feel like I was at home and loved, which is something that I find really valuable.



PhD Research Intern Philip Haeusser: deep learning, neural networks, computer vision, oh my!

Today’s blog features Philip Haeusser, a PhD Research Intern at Google. Read on to learn about his projects, publishing at Google, coding, and his internship's impact. Enjoy!



So tell us about yourself and your PhD topic…
Hi! My name is Philip, and I’m a third-year PhD student in computer science at TU Munich, supervised by Daniel Cremers. I am working in the field of computer vision, the discipline where we teach computers to understand images and videos. To a computer, images and videos are nothing but a huge collection of meaningless numbers. If you represent them as colors, a human is immediately able to tell what’s in the picture.

In order to get a computer to achieve the same, I train neural networks — a family of models that can be interpreted as instances of a “mini visual cortex.” The goal is to map the many numbers that make up an image to something more meaningful, such as a class label like “cat.” Neural networks are amazing at this. I have worked on problems like optical flow (“what changes from one video frame to the next?”) or domain adaptation [“how can we use knowledge (labels) from one domain (e.g. handwritten images) on another domain (e.g. house numbers from Google street view)?”].

When I’m not doing research, I work on my YouTube channel “Phil’s Physics” where I present experiments and talk about science.


How did you get to work in this area?
In 2014, I was completing my Master’s in physics at the University of California in Santa Cruz. I was part of an interdisciplinary team working on retina implants for blind people. In one of our experiments, we had to deal with a lot of data that was very expensive to get — but we couldn’t use all of it because our data processing pipeline was not complex enough. So I started to read about machine learning and neural networks. I got immediately hooked and reached out to professors who were working in this area. It was a great honor to get invited to present my work to Daniel Cremers, who then offered me a PhD position at his chair.


Why did you apply for an internship at Google and how supportive was your PhD advisor?
The field of deep learning is moving very fast. Almost every week, a new paper on some new groundbreaking neural network or training trick appears. More often than not, the authors work at Google. That got me interested in the kind of work that Google is doing in this field. At a summer school, I met Olivier Bousquet, who gave an amazing talk about the Google Brain team. He told me about research internships at Google, and then I applied. My PhD advisor liked the idea, because it’s always good to get new perspectives, to connect with people and to engage in exchange, particularly in a new field like deep learning. Plus, Google has the resources to facilitate experiments that are computationally unfeasible at many universities.


What project was your internship focused on?
I had the honor to be working with Alexander Mordvintsev, one of the creators of DeepDream. The project was on a novel method of training neural networks with unlabeled data and semi-supervised learning.

We developed a new method that we called “Learning by Association.” It’s similar to the “association game,” where you’re told a word and you respond with the first thing that you associate with it. After a few “iterations,” you usually get very funny “association chains.”

We did something similar: We trained a neural network to produce representations (neural activation patterns) that allow for associations, too. Associations from labeled data to unlabeled data. Imagine an association chain from an example of the labeled batch to an example of the unlabeled batch. Then, you make a second association from unlabeled to labeled data. That would then be an “association cycle.” You can now compare the label of the example that you ended up at with the label of the example at the beginning of the cycle. The goal is to make consistent association cycles, meaning that the labels are the same. We formulated this as a cost function and showed that this technique works extremely well for training classification networks with less labeled data.


Did you publish at Google during your internship?
Yes, I wrote a paper and submitted it to CVPR, the biggest computer vision conference in the world. I even presented on this topic at the 2017 CVPR conference. And Google funded my conference trip, so this internship has not only brought me great industry experience, but also a publication that I am very proud of.


How closely connected was the work you did during your internship to your PhD topic?
My host and I were exploring many topics in the beginning and this particular one fits perfectly in my PhD. Besides, I think that even projects orthogonal to a PhD topic can help a lot, with regard to coding and project management skills.


Did you write your own code?
Tons! I am particularly grateful for the code reviews that helped me improve code quality and made me think more about style and scalability. I am also very happy that Google allowed me to open-source my code, as is common practice in the research world. This way, I can continue to work on the topic and share code with researchers all across the globe. I was able to write a follow-up paper on “Associative Domain Adaptation,” which just got accepted for ICCV.


This is your second internship at Google. What were the reasons to come back to Google Zurich?
There are so many interesting research projects at Google that only one internship is not enough :-). No, seriously, I was offered a really interesting project on the team of Sylvain Gelly. I had already met him and his colleagues last year. They are amazing people, and I couldn’t miss out on the chance to work with them.


What key skills have you gained from your time at Google?
I think my code quality improved a lot. At Google, you have the chance to learn from brilliant coders with a lot of experience. They write smart code, fast. And they help you do the same.
But I also connected with many people from different teams and backgrounds. I met amazing product managers who gave me insights into how they design successful products. I was even able to work with them on new YouTube features since I am also a YouTube creator. And last but not least, I worked on my metabolic endurance with the Tough Mudder team at Google’s internal fitness center.


What impact has this internship experience had on your PhD?
Looking at it in retrospect, my internship was an important milestone for my PhD. I didn’t apply with the expectation of it being a total game changer, but I think I returned back to university with a ton of new ideas and inspiration.


Looking back on your experiences now: Why should a PhD student apply for an internship at Google? Any advice to offer?
When you’re in the middle of your PhD, there will be this moment when you think you’re trapped and you need to see something new. Or when you realize that you would like to try an experiment that requires 1000 GPUs. Or when you think you know it all and you want to challenge yourself. Or when you think about the time after your PhD and you wonder what it would be like to write code at scale and make a huge impact. I think there are many reasons for an internship. Google is a fun place to try yourself out and maybe come home with a nice paper, new friends, new ideas, or even a job offer.

My Path to Google: Zaven Muradyan, Software Engineer

Welcome to the sixth installment of our blog series “My Path to Google”. These are real stories from Googlers 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 Zaven Muradyan. Read on!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Armenia and lived there for about seven years before moving to Dallas, Texas. After several subsequent moves, I eventually ended up in the Tri-Cities area of Washington, where I went to the local community college to study computer science and graduated with an associate degree.
What’s your role at Google?
I'm a software engineer on the Google Cloud Console team, working on the frontend infrastructure. In addition to working on framework code that affects the rest of the project, I also work on tooling that improves other developers' productivity, with the ultimate goal of improving the experience for all users of Google Cloud Platform.
What inspires you to come in every day?
My colleagues! It's a joy to work on challenging and large-scale technical problems with so many talented and kind people, and I am able to learn from my coworkers every day. I also get to work with several open source projects and collaborate closely with the Angular team at Google.
When did you join Google?
I officially joined Google a little more than two years ago. I had always admired Google's product quality and engineering culture, but prior to starting the recruitment process, I had never seriously considered applying because I didn't feel like I had the formal credentials.
How did the recruitment process go for you?
It started, in a sense, when one year I decided to try participating in Google Code Jam just for fun (and I didn't even get very far in the rounds!). A little while later, I was contacted by a recruiter from Google who had seen some of my personal open source projects. To my surprise, they had originally found me because I had participated in Code Jam! I was excited and decided to do my best at going through the interview process, but was prepared for it to not work out.
I studied as much as I could, and tried to hone my design and problem solving skills. I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the interviews, but when the time came, it ended up being an enjoyable, although challenging, experience. I managed to pass the interviews and joined my current team!
What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
Prior to going through the interviews, I had the idea that only highly educated or extremely experienced engineers had a chance at joining Google. Even after passing the interviews, I was still worried that my lack of a 4-year degree would cause problems. Having gone through the process, and now having conducted interviews myself, I can say that that is certainly not the case. Googlers are made up of people from all kinds of different backgrounds!
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Don't assume that you won't be able to succeed just because you may have a "nontraditional" background! Go ahead and apply, then prepare well for the interviews. What matters most is your ability to problem solve and design solutions to complex issues, so keep practicing and don't give up.


Can you tell us more about the resources you used to prepare your interviews?

I started by going through "Programming Interviews Exposed," which acted as a good intro to my preparation. After that, I tried learning and implementing many of the most common algorithms and data structures that I could find, while going through some example problems from sites like Topcoder and previous iterations of Code Jam. Finally, one specific resource that I found to be very helpful was HiredInTech, especially for system design.