Tag Archives: Googlers

How my time in the Air Force prepared me for life at Google

In 1996, I was a young senior airman at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. We were controlling an air training mission, and had just safely led fighter jets to the training airspace. But in a split second, we got a radio call from a pilot telling us one of his engines went out. Just like that, we had to snap into action and help the plane land safely. I still get goosebumps thinking about that night of the engine outage, but taking action in that scary moment prepared me for life outside of the military. 

Carla McIntosh's training certificate

When I first left the Air Force, I initially struggled to explain how my military experience mattered outside the aerospace field. But I realized a lot of employers value the skills I had quickly coordinating and processing information under intense pressure. In my role as a staffing leader at Google, though the stakes are certainly much different, I can collaborate with people, quickly share critical information and pivot to different tasks. 

This Veterans Day, it’s so exciting to see Google sharing stories about veterans who’ve transitioned into tech, gained civilian skills and even started their own businesses. To bring more visibility to their experiences, we partnered with U.S. Army veteran guest artist Pete Damon on today’s Google Doodle and are sharing profiles of veterans (myself included) who are finding new opportunities by combining their military experience with new tech skills. And teams across the company are celebrating their veteran colleagues' contributions to the products that people use every day around the world. Telling our stories helps future employers see our value, and honors the sacrifices so many have made for this country. If just one service member is inspired or finds the courage to dream of a life beyond the uniform, then I’ve done my job.

Pete Damon poses with his Google Doodle artwork

Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Pete Damon, alongside the Veterans Day 2019 Doodle he created.

Since joining Google in 2015, I’ve been a part of our VetNet employee resource group, which is a community of veterans, spouses, and our allies. VetNet members provide ongoing support for just about everything. For example, many VetNetters refer other veterans to Google, serve as buddies to those newly hired and help support those who are currently transitioning to corporate civilian life.   

I’m really proud of Google’s commitment to helping veterans through VetNet, Grow with Google, Google for Startups and Search tools to help veterans find jobs or start businesses. It’s an exciting time to see veterans entering the civilian workforce, and we’re working hard to help to make that transition much smoother. 


When I look back at the final months of my Air Force career, I remember how nervous I was, and how I didn’t know where to start. Hopefully, today’s veterans won’t have to go through that fear. They now have key resources and allies who are working hard every day to help them.

“Clapping back” at racial stereotypes in a new book

Elijah Lawal just published his first book, but he’s been writing since he was 10 years old. Back when he was a kid, he wrote a story about a boy who ran away from home—and eventually became the president of Panama. His new book, published in the U.K. earlier this year, has very little to do with his imaginative works of little-kid fiction, but it came from a similar refusal to accept things the way they are. 

Elijah, who works in communications in Google’s London office, just wrote “The Clapback: Your Guide to Calling Out Racist Stereotypes.” He says it’s his attempt to debunk harmful stereotypes aimed at the Black community, and to give people the tools to respond when they are faced with such myths. 

Each chapter introduces a stereotype, explains its origins and shows why it’s harmful. “If there's a stereotype that Black people can't swim, and if I believe that false stereotype, then it means I'm very unlikely to go swimming,” he explains. “It means I’m very unlikely to take my kids swimming. That feeling is passed on to them, and they're very unlikely to take their kids swimming. Then before you know it there's not enough Black representation in Olympic swimming.”

Elijah certainly wasn’t drawn to writing for the glamour factor. “Writing a book is hard, lonely and often boring,” he acknowledges in his writing. He worked on the book every weekend for three full years, because he felt compelled to help others. “I just felt that I've been blessed with this knowledge, and so I've got to try and share it with other people,” he says. “I thought the best way to do it was with a book.”

Elijah Lawal poses with his book

Trying to get the book published was equally unglamorous. With a full first draft in hand, he started pitching his book to literary agents, trying to find the one who would represent his work to publishing houses. The rejections immediately poured in—so much so that Elijah had to change his way of thinking about them. A former colleague convinced him to think of it like he was seeking rejections instead of acceptances, and make it like a game. “Trick yourself into believing that the aim is to get 100 rejections,” Elijah recalls learning. “Then when you get rejected 100 times, go for 200 rejections.” 

Eighty rejections in, and more than a year later, Elijah finally got the response he’d been hoping for. In fact, he got three agency acceptances in quick succession. When the first one appeared in his inbox at the end of a long workday, he got up from his desk, ducked into the nearest meeting room and did a little dance. The hardest part was over, and the agent he chose helped find a publisher. 

In fact, things went so smoothly from there that he’s already got ideas brewing for two or three more books. “I kind of pictured this as a trilogy, so: debunking racial stereotypes, then debunking gender stereotypes, and then debunking religious stereotypes," he says. And a fellow Googler gave him the idea of turning “The Clapback” into a kids’ book, an idea he’s also considering.

The project has broadened Elijah’s horizons both personally and professionally. When he started working on the book, he was in a job that didn’t require much writing. Committing himself to a regular writing practice not only filled a creative void in his life, but also helped him be more creative at work.

And his colleagues have loved the result. “The reception of the book has helped me realize how willing people are to engage on this issue internally at Google—I’m amazed by how many people have been so supportive,” he says. “That’s been one of the joys of having this published.”

Vint Cerf’s top moments from 50 years of the Internet

Editor’s note: On the 50th anniversary of the Internet, this post comes from one of the most knowledgeable sources out there. Though it’s not included in his official title, Vint Cerf is, in fact, one of the architects of the modern Internet. 

Before there was the Internet, there was a packet. The “sending of the packet” was actually the first step toward the invention of the Internet as we know it, and it happened 50 years ago today. On that day, we established the first connection between two computers—from UCLA to the Stanford Research Institute—on the ARPANET, the predecessor to the Internet. 

Connecting the planet in this way remains one of the most astounding technical and societal achievements of our lifetime. A lot has happened in the years since, and the rise of the Internet has come with its own set of challenges that will require new solutions. But over the years there have been many bright spots, including 17 moments that, for me, stand out the most. 

1. October 29, 1969:The first packet was sent. This pioneered our understanding of operational packet switching technology, which prepared us for the subsequent development of the Internet. 

2. 1971: Networked electronic mail was created using file transfers as a mechanism to distribute messages to users on the Arpanet.  

31974:The design of the Internet was released. Robert Kahn and I published “A protocol for packet network intercommunication.” In this paper we presented not only a protocol, but an architecture and philosophy that supported an open design for the sharing of resources that existed on different packet-switching networks. 

4. November 22, 1977:A major demonstration of the Internet took place, linking three networks: Packet Radio, Packet Satellite and ARPANET. 

5. January 1, 1983:The Internet was operationally born, and I’ve used an “electronic postcard” analogy to explain how it works.

6. 1983:The operational mobile phone arrived, which is crucial because, although the Internet and mobile phones were developed in parallel, they eventually proved to be complementary technologies.

7. 1984: Cisco Systems was founded, and with it came the arrival of commercial routers, which allowed the connection of disparate networks to share data between computers.  

8. 1988:I realized the Internet was going to be really big when I attended an INTEROP show and exhibition, and there was a two-story exhibit from Cisco Systems. Turns out they spent $250,000 on that exhibit—you don’t do that unless you think it’s worth the expense and will drive business. That’s what triggered my interest in making the Internet accessible to the public. 

9. December 1991:The invention of the World Wide Web introduced a new way of sharing information that had a profound impact on accessibility and utility. Its arrival illustrated how powerful the Internet could be for information discovery, access and sharing.

10. 1993:The release of the Mosaic browser to the general public was a stepping stone to the web that we know today. It was the first time there was an interface that was visually appealing to a general audience. Also that year, the word “meme” was used to describe a viral idea—although it would take another decade or two to become mainstream. 

11. 1995: The IPO of Netscape Communications triggered a new era in technology and in business: the “Dot Com Boom.”

12. 1996: The arrival of voice over IP (Vocaltech), and the development of IPv6 allowed a superior cost benefit experience. 

13. 1998:The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was created, which is still one of the most important institutions responsible for the technical aspects of Internet governance. That same year, Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google. 

14. April 23, 2005:The first YouTube video was uploaded, which meant that ordinary people—not just television studios and broadcasters—could create and upload shareable videos. Today I turn to YouTube for “how to” videos like cooking and fixing problems with software, and watching TED talks or science explanations.

15. 2007:The first smartphone marked a collision of two revolutionary technologies: the mobile phone, which made the Internet more accessible, and the Internet, which made the mobile phone more useful.

16. June 5, 2012:Google, as well as many other websites, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and network hardware manufacturers permanently switched on Internet Protocol v6 (IPv6) as part of the World IPv6 Launch. At the time, the Internet was running out of IP addresses, but IPv6 allowed for unlimited growth of IP addresses in the future. This was also the subject of my first tweet!

17. 2019-2069 (the next 50 years): In the next five decades I believe that computer communications will become completely natural. Like using electricity, you won’t think about it anymore. Access will be totally improved—think thousands of low Earth orbit satellites—and speeds will be higher, with 5G and optical fiber, and billions of networked devices with increased interactive capabilities in voice, gesture, and artificially intelligent systems. I also imagine an expansion of the Interplanetary Internet. But who knows, after everything that has been accomplished in the past 50 years, the only thing we can be certain about is that the possibilities are endless.  

How Google made me proud to be out at work

Until I started working at Google in 2014, I had never been out at work.  

Now, less than five years later, everything is different: I’m an active volunteer leader in Google’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group—a Googler-run, company-supported organization that works to provide an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, and partners closely with our Trans Employee Resource Group, which represents our transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary colleagues. As part of my role, I’ve had the chance to engage LGBTQ+ Googlers across our global offices, speak publicly about being LGBTQ+ in the workplace and have even been able to share my perspectives and experiences directly with Google leadership. 

At this point, I can barely remember what it felt like to not be a visible, openly LGBTQ+ person at work. So it’s hard to imagine that before joining Google, I felt I couldn’t come out at the office at all. 

As we celebrate National Coming Out Day and reflect on all of the progress we’ve made as a community, I am determined to remember this simple but crucial reality: Openness matters. Community matters. Being able to be out at work matters. 

LGBTQ+ Pride sign at Google

Googlers create signs supporting the LGBTQ+ community for the 2017 New York City Pride March.

Prior to joining Google, I’d spent time in a variety of industries, always under the careful, polite policy of evasion when it came to questions about my personal life. Perhaps I didn’t need to be so secretive. I worked with wonderful, kind people, and though there were no explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ issues from my workplace, I’m sure most of my colleagues and managers wouldn’t have taken issue with my identity. 

Still, for many LGBTQ+ folks, the fear of prejudice can nag at you, and cause you to hesitate even around the most well-meaning of coworkers. Some assume that with the ushering in of marriage equality here in the U.S., other kinds of inequality have disappeared and the movement is complete. But as many LGBTQ+-identifying people will tell you, critical challenges still remain, and it takes a conscious and dedicated effort to counteract their effects. 

Growing up in New Mexico, I got an early introduction to some of the challenges that LGBTQ+ people still so often face: harassment, discrimination, violence. The understanding that being LGBTQ+ was unsafe was imprinted on me almost immediately, and that fear left a lasting mark.  

In each new city, from college to a job to graduate school to another job, I was reminded (often in not-so-subtle ways) that no matter what might change in the law or in popular culture, I should always be wary, always be careful.  

So I never took the chance.  

In so many important ways, restraining from bringing my full self to work hurt my ability to be a good employee. Constantly worrying about slipping up and revealing that I had a girlfriend rather than a boyfriend prevented me from feeling fully integrated. It became an obstacle to forming the kinds of professional relationships that help company culture feel cohesive and supportive.  

Now, I realize how much I was missing.  Today, I’m part of a workplace with visible LGBTQ+ leaders, explicit shows of support for LGBTQ+ cultural moments and celebrations and broad encouragement to use what makes me different to create an environment of inclusion for my fellow Googlers. This journey has made me realize how much all workplaces can benefit from supporting their employees’ differences, just as much as they celebrate their collective unity.  

I’m proud. I hope you are, too. 

Building community and making connections at Grace Hopper

I’ve spent most of my career in roles where it becomes less diverse as you go up the ranks. Oftentimes, I’ve been the only Black woman in the room, so I’ve had to create a community where one didn’t exist, and now in my role at Google, it's a big part of my job to create community for underrepresented groups. 

Melonie.jpg

Kicking off Grace Hopper 2019

This week I’m at the 16th Annual Grace Hopper Conference in Orlando, Florida. Every year, 20,000 people—including nearly 5,000 students from more than 300 institutions—come to Grace Hopper to listen to inspiring talks, make new connections, and network with some of the smartest minds in tech. For us, it’s an opportunity to meet the next generation of Googlers; more than 1,000 Googlers and 50 Google senior leaders will be attending. 

Because events like Grace Hopper are critical to helping women technologists from across the world build their community, access shouldn’t be limited to those who can afford to attend. Since 2004, we’ve worked with Grace Hopper to donate travel grants to help students, and this year, we’ve provided $650,000 for this cause, because we believe that students regardless of their socioeconomic status, should be able to attend the conference so they can forge a path in the technology industry. 

The sense of community at Grace Hopper is one of the reasons women come back every year and I’m looking forward to meeting so many talented women in the industry. Here’s where you can find me and other Googlers at this year’s conference. If you’re in Orlando this week, please stop by and say hi! At the Career Fair Booth, you can check out some of our favorite aspects of working at Google: shared workspaces, activities, and creative nooks to get work done. At the Tech Showcase Booth, get a glimpse of Google’s products and services and the women behind the technology.

If you can’t make it to Orlando for #GHC19, we’ll be bringing the experience to you on our @LifeatGoogle and @GoogleStudents social media channels all week long.


How the head of Google Ad Grants fights for the underdog

Michelle Hurtado was raised on the notion that hard work can get you through anything. As the daughter of a Hispanic immigrant, she was born with the drive to create a better life for those around her, always surrounding herself with strong communities and an appreciation for faith, family and traditions. These values came from her grandmother, who fled Colombia during especially violent years—with Michelle’s father in tow. Michelle says her grandmother’s bravery and dedication to her family will have an impact for generations to come.

Michelle became the first in her family to graduate from college and eventually made her way to Google, where she runs our Ad Grants program. In the latest installment of The She Word, we talked about how her team helps nonprofits around the world and how her “north star” has led her to fight for underprivileged people throughout her career. 

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

I work on the Ad Grants team. We give free ads to nonprofits, nearly $1 billion a year, so they can reach people who need their services. 

How was that idea born?

Ad Grants was Google’s first-ever philanthropic effort. Sixteen years ago, we started recognizing that ads had a lot of value, but nonprofits wouldn’t necessarily have the funds to pay for them. We wanted to make sure that organizations of all resource levels could get their message out there. We’ve served more than 100,000 nonprofits in 51 countries, but I think this program is still a hidden gem. There are 3-4 million nonprofits out there who could benefit from Ad Grants. 

What’s the hardest part of your job?

There are philosophical questions that I grapple with: Where can we create the most impact or provide the most value? Do we spread resources around as much as possible? Or invest in nonprofits that have been deemed the most impactful? Do we focus on places that have the most need or the resources to fill the need? The nonprofit sector is incredibly diverse and varied, and so our strategy for giving needs to be, too. The work is never done. 

And what about the most rewarding part?

The teams behind these nonprofits have such critical programs, kind hearts and big plans to change the world. A nonprofit like Make a Difference is using their online presence to recruit volunteers around the world to educate kids in small Indian villages, and Samaritans used Ad Grants to raise awareness of their helpline to ultimately reduce suicide rates. 

Tell us about your pre-Google life. What were your dreams as a kid?

I grew up poor; my family was on welfare. My parents juggled several jobs and worked as hard as they could, but still couldn’t make it. We went through a lot—we lost my mom when I was young and moved around quite a bit. When I was 17, I received a scholarship to college. That changed my life forever, and  lifted up my family, too. Since then, I’ve wanted to fight for the underdog. I originally wanted to work in government because I wanted to change the system, but those systematic changes are hard to come by. Helping people is really what makes the world go round. 

Do you feel like you were an underdog? 

I do. It’s part of why I’m successful in my current job—I can think from other people’s perspectives. It’s incredibly important for me to know who I’m serving. It makes me go to the ends of the earth for those people. 

How did you get to Google?

In my third year of college, I traveled abroad for the first time with a nonprofit program called Semester at Sea. I made it to Cuba, Brazil, Uganda, India and China. Connecting with people around the world changes your perspective, and I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to travel and learn. I went to work in marketing for American Airlines, where I helped to launch the first flights to India and China. In that role, I learned about digital ads and saw how they connected people to new, useful information. I ended up coming over to Google, working with small businesses to use ads to grow their economic impact. From there, I started to work with nonprofits specifically. I always find my way back to the underdog. 

Michelle traveling.jpg

Michelle on a trip to Egypt during Semester at Sea.

Do you have any advice for women starting out in their careers?

Decide what your north star is and embrace any opportunity that’s going in that general direction. Don’t wait for your skills to be perfectly aligned and don’t wait for the perfect timing. Just keep moving in the right direction.

Have you followed the same north star throughout your career?

My intention has always been to help underprivileged people. I have a sweet spot in particular for folks who are really trying to make it, but the system’s not set up well for them. My current role supports a platform so that we can all help one another—my team and I are connecting people to causes. 

First-ever summit connects hundreds of Latina Googlers

At the end of a two-day summit in Sunnyvale, California, keynote speaker Dolores Huerta led a chant with the audience. She asked the crowd, “Who’s got the power?” And we responded, “We’ve got the power!” She continued: “What kind of power?” We responded: “Latina power!” 

We were at the first-ever Latinas at Google Summit, which took place earlier this month. The summit, called “Building for the Future,” aimed to create community and discuss the unique U.S. experience of being a Latina at Google. Five hundred Googlers attended the summit, which featured guest speakers Huerta and “Orange Is the New Black” actress Jackie Cruz, as well as conversations with senior leaders at Google. 

A group of Google volunteers, myself included, took seven months to carefully plan workshops, music, art exhibits and food inspired by our heritage. The size of the group was awe-inspiring, and so was their response after the event. When they gave us feedback, they told us they found community in the personal stories they shared and left the summit feeling more connected. At the event, they said, they learned new ways to amplify the work they do at Google—and in turn, reach people beyond our walls.

One of the most inspirational moments involved Huerta, who is widely known for her advocacy, especially around farmworker rights, and her foundation, which focuses on civic engagement for young people and families. She delivered a keynote speech and later sat down for an interview with Laura Marquez, Google’s head of Latino community engagement. 

Huerta urged the crowd to use their voice to reach out to their own families and communities to educate and get involved in issues that affect our everyday lives. With one of her 11 children in the audience, Huerta shared her experience and insights that continue to guide her through her 90th birthday, and the work she’ll continue doing in the future. 

Here are a few key lessons Huerta shared with the crowd:

Own your power. 

“As women, sometimes we’re afraid of that word, power. We see it in a negative connotation. A lot of times, we as women kind of hold ourselves back a little bit from the positions we aspire to. And we think, well, maybe I’m not experienced enough, not qualified enough. And I just say: Do it like the guys do. Pretend! Think of yourselves as being the decision makers.  It takes courage to do the things we need to do. And the biggest courage of all is to stand up for ourselves.”

Don’t discount people without formal education. 

“In our organization, many of our women never had a chance to go to high school or college. But does that mean they’re not educated? You know, in Spanish, the word educado has a whole different meaning than it does in English. It means if you’re educated, you’re civil, you have a conscience, you have compassion for other people, you have good manners. That means what educado means in Spanish. It doesn’t mean you have to have a formal education. So that means that many of our parents or our grandparents who never had a chance to go to school, that doesn’t mean they’re not educated. They are educated!”

Research your history. 

“My family has been here for many generations. My great-grandfather was in the Civil War on the Union side. But when I went to Mexico, it was such a revelation to me, even though both of my parents were born in the United States of America. When I saw how many people there were who were so proud of being Mexicans, that really saved me. Because in high school, there was so much racial discrimination, I thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That really saved me in terms of my identity. I want to make sure that [Latino history] is introduced into our school books so people are proud of who they are and can stand up to racial discrimination. If we don’t know our own history, we don’t know our own identity.”

Neha Palmer keeps Google’s data centers green

When Neha Palmer was a kid, she idolized Marie Curie. Reading a book about the pioneering scientist inspired her to pursue the field herself. “I think of it as the geek’s princess story,” she says. And now, both in and out of her role at Google, she’s working to inspire others who want to find a way to translate their passion for science and the environment into a career. 

Neha leads the team responsible for purchasing clean energy to fuel Google’s data centers. She's helping to reach our goal of remaining carbon neutral, which we have been since 2007, and matching all of Google’s energy consumption with 100 percent renewable energy, which we have achieved for two years in a row. Thanks to the work of Neha’s team, Google recently announced our largest ever purchase of renewable energy and was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency with its Green Power Leadership Partner of the Year award.

For this installment of The She Word, Neha explains why renewable energy is so important, how Google has inspired companies to take action themselves and the one trick that keeps her productive, even on the busiest days. 

How do you describe your job at a dinner party?

When you use Search, YouTube and Gmail, all of that sits on a computer somewhere, and that somewhere is our network of data centers around the world. My job is to buy as much clean energy in the locations we have data centers as we can. Data centers are the largest portion of our carbon footprint as a company, driven by the amount of electricity they consume.

How does Google define clean energy? 

We define 100 percent renewable as: For every year, across the globe, we match every single kilowatt hour of electricity we use with a kilowatt hour of renewable energy. So far, that has meant wind and solar. But now we’re thinking: How do we get beyond that? If you have a solar farm, for example, it’s going to produce energy during the day, but when it’s dark, we still have to use the power that’s on the grid, which often includes carbon-emitting resources. Our next big goal is to buy 100 percent clean, carbon-free energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. That would mean resources that don’t emit carbon. 

I feel lucky that I have a job where I feel like I can make a difference.

Why is it so important to focus on clean energy? 

The production of electricity results in around 30 percent of all the emissions in the world. From my perspective, it’s the most important thing that we can do as a company to make sure we’re operating in an environmentally sustainable way. What we’ve seen is that a lot of companies from all sectors have followed. We see the automotive industry, consumer products, even candy bar companies moving toward clean energy. Corporations have realized that this is something that is not only beneficial for their environment, but also for their business. 

Climate is top of mind for many people right now, but a lot of people are confused about what they can do as individuals. I feel lucky that I have a job where I feel like I can make a difference. Seeing the impact of the work is really satisfying. 

What do you do in a typical day? 

I try to get big projects out of the way in the morning. If there’s something I need to sit down and think about critically, I try to block out at least an hour to focus on that. If I do have a bunch of things that are top of mind, but I know I’ll only have that one hour, I usually start the day by writing exactly one thing, and only one thing, on a sticky note. I stick it on my computer, and I won’t leave for the day until it is done. I spend a lot of time in meetings, since I’m on a very large team. And I try to sit down and have an actual lunch and be technology-free, to let my mind clear and re-energize. In the afternoons it’s a scramble—I’ve got two small children, so I get home and spend time with them before they go to bed and end the day. 

What’s one habit that makes you successful?

There’s so much discussion right now about work-life balance. One thing I’ve learned is that it's going to be seasonal. There are plenty of times where you feel stressed and you’re not going to have that balance, but there are  plenty of times where you feel like you are in control. Knowing that you can get back to that place gives me enough mental stability to get through the hectic times. 

You spent most of your career in the utilities industry, which is historically male-dominated. How have you navigated that?

I’ve always sought out strong female leaders, whether it’s within my company or outside the company, I’ve also tried to think about how I can help pull people up. It might be talking to a group of high schoolers about STEM and engineering careers, or it might be talking to an MBA class about how you convert your passion for the environment into a job. There are plenty of people who are interested in the energy industry, it’s just making sure that we find them, engage them and then hire them. 

Sharing stories and snacks at Take Your Parents to Work Day

When I was a kid, I loved when my dad took me to work at his office in downtown Milwaukee. He had good views for parades on the streets below, and had one of those handheld games with water and, like, little marbles that you’d try to move down chutes. He had a set of office keys that had this one super-cool blue key on it that, as far as I knew, was for some top-secret treasure closet, maybe? (Or the bathroom, probably.) I’d sit and play the game and watch some TV and hang out, while my dad did what I only assumed was Important Adult Stuff, and then we’d go home. Man, what good times!

Back in those days, I’d think about the times I’d be able to take my parents to my job someday. I didn’t think I’d be taking them to a tech company, but instead to the NBA games I’d certainly be playing in. But things change! People stop getting any taller! Dreams get … deferred! And though it wasn’t on the basketball court, last week, at Google, I finally got to return the favor and show my parents what I do all day.

Matt Teper with his parents

Showing my parents the Googleplex in Mountain View.

Trying out virtual reality

My parents tested out virtual reality at Take Your Parents to Work Day.

One of the many absurdly fun things this company does is offer a full-day event for Take Your Parents to Work Day. Thousands of Googler parents and parental figures come to Mountain View and sit in meetings, roam the campus, eat the food, see product demos and hear from our CEO. In the office, as you can see in the video above, they answer questions from colleagues about what we were like as a kid and tell their own stories of how they ended up here, on this day, proud parents of a Googler.

I have had the privilege in the last few months of taking my kid to work, and now, taking my parents. The sense of pride you feel in giving those you love a glimpse of this place—this company doing impossible things to help billions of people all over the world—that sense of pride radiates around you, everywhere you turn. Pride felt for our kids, pride felt by our parents and pride in ourselves for making all of them proud. It’s not the NBA, but it’s still very cool.

I have two daughters, and when they come visit me, they hang out and play around and investigate the Google-verse around them. They stock up on free candy bars and examine the famous T-Rex and slide down the famous slide. I don’t know exactly what their version of the blue key is, but I am sure they have one in their minds: an emblem, years down the road, they’ll look back on as they remember being “taken to work.” Someday, they’ll take me to work, at some place that doesn’t exist now (or to a National Women’s Soccer League game), and I will walk around beaming the way my parents did last week, along with the thousands more who joined them on campus, filled with love and joy and wonder, thinking: Man, what good times!

The lessons Googlers have learned from their parents

I owe a lot to my parents. They have been through my side through the ups and downs of life, from comforting me through my awkward middle school years to cheering me on during my college graduation. Now that I work at Google (and am still awkward from time to time), I know they still have my back. 

Today, many Googlers like me are paying tribute to their parents and parental figures in their lives by inviting them to the office for our biannual Take Your Parents to Work Day at our Mountain View campus. Every other year, we invite parents of Googlers to get a sense of what it’s like for their kids to go to work every day. Well, most days don’t include product demos, photo ops and a Q&A with the company’s CEO in an outdoor amphitheater, but we try to make things look nice when Mom and Dad come by.

As Take Your Parents to Work Day kicks off, we invited five Googlers to reflect on the most important lessons their parents have taught them. Here’s what they had to say:

Eric Valdivia and his parents

Eric Valdivia

Software Engineer

My parents taught me to care about people.When I was growing up, I saw all my family take care of each other, even when conditions got bad. And whether I was playing sports or joining math competitions, my parents were always there cheering for me, just happy watching me play, whether I won or lost. And I think this value is the base for everything. You care about others, they will care about you, and then we will be a big team helping each other.

Camille Gennaio with her family

Camille Gennaio

Facilities Manager

My parents have taught me many lessons, of course, but I’d have to say that the biggest and most valuable one is pretty clear. It’s key as you move throughout the world that you make your friends your family. My parents both left small towns to pursue their educations and careers. I grew up surrounded by “found family” and loved being able to rely on so many trusted people in our community. With their encouragement, I have made some big physical moves in my adulthood. In each area, I worked to really connect with people and welcome them into my life. Now, I have “found family” all over the world. 

Cliff Redeker with his parents

Cliff Redeker

Leadership Summits Team Lead

Beyond the secret family fudge recipe, DIY projects and late-night pickups from speech team practice, my parents taught me the values of kindness and shared responsibility. My dad built a business not by being a leader, but by being a designer, custodian and facilitator. My mom encouraged me to take action when things go wrong, not to blame others. Together, they encouraged me to achieve the impossible and be true to my Midwestern roots. My family’s support is my most important asset, and they’re always “uncomfortably excited” about every Take Your Parents to Work Day. 

Nancy Yuen with her family

Nancy Yuen

Senior Ads Manager

My parents are both from a rural part of China where old traditions are celebrated, women are expected to be submissive and poverty is a way of life. My paternal grandfather was an educator and believed that all people, regardless of gender or economic status, have the potential to succeed and thrive.My father, an esteemed engineer, also had this open mindset and held me to the same challenges and expectations as my two brothers in academics, music and sports. With his support and encouragement, I flew above the walls of gender and cultural stereotypes to who I am today: a Googler, parent, educator and advocate.

Crystal Sholts with her family

Crystal Sholts

Geopolitical Program Manager

Focus on character, and by doing so, nurture it in yourself and appreciate it in others. The older I get, the more I can see how character matters. Most of the other trappings in life are lost when you die, but character is the one aspect of yourself which lives beyond your death. My parents have instilled this lesson from an early age. Being a good person isn’t essential to surviving or even thriving, but it is an aspect of your life of which you have control and which can enrich your environment and those around you.