Tag Archives: Googlers

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.

While school was out, interns were in: our 20th intern class

Since Google’s first class of interns walked through our doors in 1999, thousands of students from across the country have joined us for the summer and used their intern experience to launch their careers after graduation. I should know: I was part of Google’s first intern class. There were just four of us that year and I quickly discovered, in ways that surprised me, how much there was to learn outside the classroom.

After reading through more than 125,000 applications for this year’s class, we welcomed thousands of summer interns to more than 20 U.S. offices including our locations outside of California, like New York, Seattle-Kirkland, Austin, Chicago and Atlanta.

Google’s twentieth intern class was our most representative in history. In the U.S., 24 percent of 2019 interns identify as Black+ or Latinx+, up from ~20 percent in 2018, and 37 percent identify as women, up from 34 percent in 2018. They came to Google from 380 universities and 44 states.

20th Intern class_stats.gif

Our internship program is one way we’re working to build a workforce that’s more representative of the people we serve, in addition to developing programs to retain and grow diverse talent and improve representation at the leadership level. And because unpaid internships are a are a dealbreaker for a lot of students, often shutting out low-income and underrepresented applicants, we only offer paid internships.

While our interns hail from almost every corner of the country, they share one thing in common: a passion for technology. Our goal for the internship program is to fuel this passion and teach our interns new skills with projects that matter to the company—as well as other fun stuff, like hearing from Google leaders and being paired with a mentor.

Google 20th Intern Class.gif

Hats off to our interns, photographed here at their orientation.

Thank you to the 2019 interns who spent the summer with us! Without you, many of our projects and products wouldn’t be where they are today.

The Googler whose art springs from “useless” objects

When Jeff Sundheim first moved to New York in 1996, he went running in his neighborhood every morning. He always ran by the same dumpster, which was packed full of oddly shaped pieces of wood. The nearby store, which built new and refurbished antique billiard tables, considered the wood pieces to be trash, but Jeff didn’t. He returned to his apartment after each run with armfuls full of material. That’s how Jeff started making art. 

Jeff is in his 13th year at Google, working with advertisers and publishers on creative campaigns and helping companies find ways to appeal to wider audiences. And he says his love of sculpture perfectly complements his work at Google. “There isn’t a dichotomy between my life and work life and creative life,” he says. “It’s all pretty fluid.” For example, he works with advertisers all the time, and the ad industry’s bold fonts and company logos frequently inspire his art. His artwork is varied, including colorful compositions made of discarded cardboard boxes and phone book listings. Recently, he’s been playing with steel, working outdoors and on a larger scale.

Jeff Sundheim

Jeff at work at the Art Students League in New York.

His latest work is in New York’s Riverside Park, right next to the Hudson River. Jeff noticed the park lacked seating, so he created a sculpture that invites passersby to take a rest. The piece, named “Wavehenge,” features a wave of steel towers acting as a sundial over four benches of wood. And it contains a secret: Four times a year, at a specific time, the shadows of the steel wave perfectly align with each of the benches. He says he’s loved seeing how people interact with his piece of art. Kids even bring chalk up to it, creating their own art on his sculpture.

Wavehenge

“Wavehenge” acts as a sundial, facing New York City’s Hudson River. 


Jeff says a new perspective can bring welcome change to everything from a piece of wood to a sculpture or a park. He’s also recently pursued a change himself, undertaking a rotation at Google, spending several months in a new role in Mountain View. There, he worked as an evangelist on a wide range of topics with visiting executives from Google’s largest clients. “It’s an extraordinary way to learn about the company, get a bird’s-eye view and meet incredibly interesting people,” Jeff says. While working out at the gym on campus, he ran into an accessibility researcher and invited him to present on multiple occasions to Google visitors.  

Making something beautiful after it’s no longer useful endows an object with new purpose, Jeff says. In his work and his art, he’s drawn to projects that require him to imagine a new future for information or objects that are often taken for granted. “So much of what we do at Google is making things useful,” Jeff says. “I love taking materials I’ve found that have been cast off and giving them a new life, transforming them.”

Ask a Techspert: What is machine learning?

Editor’s Note: Do you ever feel like a fish out of water? Try being a tech novice and talking to an engineer at a place like Google. Ask a Techspert is a series on the Keyword asking Googler experts to explain complicated technology for the rest of us. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but just enough to make you sound smart at a dinner party. 

Imagine you’re going to the grocery store to buy ice cream. If you’re an ice cream lover like me, this probably happens regularly. Normally, I go to the store closest to my home, but every so often I opt to go to a different one, in search of my ice-cream white whale: raspberry chocolate chip. 

When you’re in a new store searching for your favorite-but-hard-to-find flavor of ice cream, you might not know exactly where it is, but you’ll probably know that you should head toward the refrigerators, it’s in the aisle labeled frozen foods and that it’s probably not in the same section as the frozen pizza.

My ability to find ice cream in a new store is not instinctive, even though it feels like it. It is the result of years of memories navigating the many sections and aisles of different grocery stores, using visual cues like refrigerators or aisle signs to figure out if I am on the right track. 

Today, when we hear about “machine learning,” we’re actually talking about how Google teaches computers to use existing information to answer questions like: Where is the ice cream? Or, can you tell me if my package has arrived on my doorstep? For this edition of Ask a Techspert, I spoke with Rosie Buchanan, who is a senior software engineer working on Machine Perception within Google Nest. 

She not only helped explain how machine learning works, she also told me that starting today, Nest Aware subscribers can receive a notification when their Nest Hello, using machine learning, detects that a package has been delivered. 

What is machine learning? 

I’ll admit: Rosie came up with the food metaphor. She told me that when you’re looking for something to eat, you have a model in your head. “You learn what to eat by seeing, smelling, touching and by using your prior experience with similar things,” she says. “With machine learning, we’re teaching the computer how to do something, often with better accuracy than a person, based on past understanding.” 

How do you get a machine to learn? 

Rosie and her team teach machines through supervised learning. To help Nest cameras identify packages, they use data that they know contains the “right answers,” which in this case are photos of packages. They then input these data sets to the computer so that it can create an algorithmic model based on the images they provided. This is called a training job, and it requires hundreds of thousands of images. “Over time, the computer is able to independently identify a delivered package without assistance,” Rosie says. 

How do you figure out what to make a machine learn? 

Rosie told me that package detection was one of the most requested features from Nest Hello users. “In particular, we’re trying to solve problems based on what users want,” she says. “Home safety and security is a huge area for our users.” By bringing package delivery notifications to Nest Aware, Rosie and her team have found a use for machine learning that eliminates the tedious task of waiting around for your delivery. 

Do you need a massive supercomputer to do machine learning? 

That depends on whether you’re creating a machine learning model or using it. If you’re a developer like Rosie, you’ll need some powerful computers. But if you want to see whether there’s a package on your doorstep, you don’t need more than a video doorbell. "When engineers develop a machine learning model, it can take a ton of computing power to teach it what it needs to know,” Rosie says. “But once it's trained, a machine learning model doesn't necessarily take up a lot of space, so it can run basically anywhere, like in your smart doorbell."

Can machines understand some things that we humans can’t? 

According to Rosie, yes. “We can often describe the things we’re learning,” she says, “but there are things we can’t describe, and machines are good at understanding these observations.” It’s called black box learning: We can tell the model is learning something but we can’t quite tell what it is. 

A great example of this is when a package arrives at your doorstep. Rosie’s team shows the network lots of pictures of packages, and lots of pictures of other things (trees, dogs, bananas, you name it). They tell the network which images are packages and which ones are not. The network is made up of different nodes, each trying to learn how to identify a package on its own. One node might learn that many packages are brown, and another might notice that many are rectangular. 

“These nodes work together to start putting together a concept of what a package is, eventually coming up with a concept of ‘packageness’ that we as humans might not even understand,” Rosie says. “At the end, we don't actually know exactly what the network learned as its definition of ‘packageness,’ whether it's looking for a brown box, a white bag or something else.” With machine learning, teams can show a network a new picture and it may tell us there’s a package in it, but we can’t fully know exactly how it made that decision. 

What’s the best part about working on machine learning? 

Rosie, who’s been at Google for over five years, says it’s all about working on the unknown. “We get to work on problems that we don’t know are actually solvable,” she says. “It’s exciting to get started on something while knowing that it might not be feasible.” 

So will machine learning be able to identify that raspberry chocolate chip is the best flavor of ice cream ever created? Probably not. We’ll still need human knowledge to confirm that. But machine learning will help us in other ways, like waiting around for a package to be delivered so you can take that precious time to peruse the frozen foods section. 

In the key of G: Meet June Wu, Googler and concert pianist

June Wu loved classical music from an early age. A very early age. “There are home videos of me as a baby, conducting to big symphonies as my dad was playing them on the stereo,” she says. Her love of music has lasted to this day, as she flies around the world as a concert pianist—all while working in a totally different field at Google’s offices in Redwood City, CA. Living in both worlds is what makes June happiest—and it took her a while to figure that out. 

When June was a kid, her mother decided to learn how to play the piano. June and her sister would tiptoe downstairs after bedtime to listen to their mom play, and they would sneak a few plinks of the piano keys while she was trying to practice. Eventually, June’s mother got so frustrated she signed her kids up for lessons. June ended up taking piano very seriously, competing at the state, national and international level while in middle and high school. 

June was, and still is, drawn to the emotions you can channel through piano, whether you’re playing or just listening. “For me,  music is a way to explore deeper emotions and access some of what you may not yet have the words to articulate,” she says. “You can do that through music, and you can also move others through that.”

By her senior year of high school, she was ready to pursue piano professionally, and even got accepted to Juilliard, her dream school. But something gave her pause: She worried she’d have to choose music and music alone, leaving behind other academic interests, if she went to Juilliard. The students she met there had a laser-focus on their art, leaving very little free time for other interests.  “I had always been intellectually stimulated by both worlds, both music and non-music,” she says. 

June passed on Juilliard and ended up at Harvard, but had a tough time leaving music behind. She didn’t touch a piano for six years and didn’t share her previous passion with her college friends. “Piano was so intertwined with my sense of self and identity,” she says. “I felt ashamed that I had given up on my childhood dream without even trying. I threw myself into other things in college and didn’t play at all.”

After she graduated, she worked as a journalist and then moved to management consulting. While staffed in Paris, she had a chance encounter that led her to pick up piano again. A friend asked if she could sub in for her during a concert, and at first June demurred, saying she had likely lost her ability to perform at a professional level. But the concert was two months away, so she had time to prepare. 

“I decided to say yes, because I didn’t know anyone in Paris, so what’s the worst that could happen?” June says. “In the beginning it was tough—my fingers weren’t able to do what my mind wanted to do, because I hadn’t been playing for so long. But the technique came back so quickly.” She also noticed that even though she’d stopped playing, she had still grown as a person and as an artist. She brought a new perspective to her music now. 

The concert reignited her passion for music. Next, she entered an international amateur competition for pianists—and won. That led to invitations to perform with professional orchestras, concerts she had to balance with a full-time career and then business school. 

After business school, she sought out a company that would help her with that balance. “I thought that working at a place like Google, which is very supportive of outside interests, would be a great fit for me,” June says. “I’d continue to work on exciting problems and build a great career in addition to playing and performing when I can.”

June Wu playing piano

Now, June works as chief of staff and a strategy lead for Google Customer Solutions, which helps small and medium businesses grow using Google Ads products. She practices piano nearly every day and recently got a Steinway grand piano in her San Francisco apartment. “It’s amazing for me, but my neighbors hate it,” she jokes. She aims for two major performances a year, most recently performing Chopin and Tchaikovsky piano concertos as the featured soloist with the Penn Symphony Orchestra in Philadelphia and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra in South Africa. (She even performed at a gala event at an offsite meeting for her leadership team at Google.) Next, she aims to revamp her solo repertoire and prepare a full recital. 

June says her job at Google and her love for music go hand-in-hand. “Music exercises a different part of my brain, so I think it makes me more well-rounded,” she says. “It’s a way for me to get inspiration from a different part of my life and bring that to my work at Google.”

Inside the internship: Lessons from a summer at Google

Google interns come into our offices around the world for a few months, make a huge impact and then head back to school to continue their learning journey. These talented, helpful people make what we do at Google possible and without them, many of our projects and products wouldn’t be where they are today. 

Since July 25 marks National Intern Day, we’re taking the opportunity to thank and celebrate our interns from all over the globe. We sat down with six Google interns to learn about what they’ve learned so far, and what they’ll take with them when the summer ends. (Want to be part of our 2020 intern class? Applications open in just a few months.  You can find all the details on google.com/students.)

Google intern Grant Bennett

Grant Bennett

Role: BOLD Intern (Building Opportunities in Leadership and Development), Equity Programs team
University: Morehouse College
Office:Mountain View, California
Project:Career Progression Toolkit, a website to find onboarding, mentorship, performance management and coaching resources for Googlers. Also building out a separate toolkit to facilitate further connections between Employee Resource Groups and Staffing.


What's something you learned during your internship that you'll take with you? 

"Google has taught me the importance of leaving an impact in any space you occupy. Working for the Employee Engagement team has been great because I know the work that I produce will be used to increase equitable outcomes for all Googlers."

Google intern Diogo Rodrigues

Diogo Rodrigues

Role:Software Engineering Intern, Search
University:Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
Office:Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Project:Improving Google search results around medical conditions and information.


What's been your favorite part of your internship? 

“Because of the internship, I moved to a different city for the first time. This allowed me to enjoy different experiences that weren’t available back where I lived. As a result, I discovered what is now my favorite hobby and sport — climbing.”

Google intern Kalaivani Kumaran

Kalaivani Kumaran

Role: Software Engineering Intern, Apps
University:Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering 
Office:Bangalore, India
Project: Improving the G Suite reporting and insights experience for G Suite IT administrators.


What's been your favorite part of your internship? 

“This will be my second summer as an intern. In 2018, as a sophomore, I participated in the Summer Trainee Engineering Program (STEP) internship. My favorite part of both summers has been connecting with fellow Googlers and sharing wonderful experiences like Tech India Intern Connect (an intern-hosted event for interns from other companies to drop by Google India for a day of networking and learning), Google Serve,  and a Post-it Art competition.”

Google intern Alice Wu

Alice Wu

Role: Software Engineering Intern, Hotel Ads 
University:Brandeis University
Office:Cambridge, Massachusetts
Project:Creating a dashboard for Hotel Ads advertisers which displays customized opportunities for improvement.


Tell us about your path to Google.

“I did not have a lot of exposure to computer science growing up, so I actively sought programs that I could be involved in as a high school student with minimal computer science experience. I am an alum of Google’s NYC Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI)class of 2016.”
Google intern Patrice Maxwell

Patrice Maxwell

Role: Information Technology Intern, Operations
University:Georgia State University
Office: Boulder, Colorado
Project:Building plugins that provide more operating system signals used for troubleshooting and diagnostic information for our internal support teams.


What's been your favorite part of your internship? 

“Even before interning, I was part of an apprenticeship for Google through a program called Year Up. I’ve learned a lot, but I have really enjoyed the opportunity to learn a new OS scripting languages. I typically code in Java or Python, so being able to rethink how I structure my solutions, has been an enjoyable challenge.”
Google intern David Cheikhi

David Cheikhi

Role:Software Engineering Intern, Operations Research 
University: École Polytechnique
Office:Paris, France
Project: Vehicle routing, working on how to make a fleet of vehicles (like Street View cars) cover as much ground as possible in a given length of time.


What's something you learned during your internship that you'll take with you?

“I learned to dare to ask questions whenever I wasn't understanding something.”


Ask a Techspert: How does Wi-Fi actually work?

Editor’s Note: Do you ever feel like a fish out of water? Try being a tech novice and talking to an engineer at a place like Google. Ask a Techspert is a series on the Keyword asking Googler experts to explain complicated technology for the rest of us. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but just enough to make you sound smart at a dinner party. 

How do you define a best friend?  Is it that someone who understands your needs? Or maybe it’s the person who is there through your ups and downs. Or, perhaps, does it require a special ability to allow your electronic devices to connect to the web without cords? 

While there aren’t many people who immediately consider wireless routers their bestie, according to a recent study commissioned by Google and conducted by Kelton Research, 57 percent of respondents say their Wi-Fi is like their best friend. In fact, 25 percent compared Wi-Fi to their significant other, and 68 percent said they’d be lonelier without Wi-Fi. And respondents said they’d rather suffer annoying situations like long lines at the DMV than deal with spotty Wi-Fi connections. 

Certainly, Wi-Fi is part of our daily lives, but how does it actually work? For this edition of “Ask A Techspert,” I spoke with Sanjay Noronha, a product manager at Google Nest and our resident expert on Wi-Fi and routers, to learn more about how the technology behind Wi-Fi works and about the future of home networks.

How does Wi-Fi even work? 

“It’s like listening to the radio, but two-way. Instead of just receiving sound like we do with AM or FM, Wi-Fi also lets you send data, like an email or a post to social media,” Sanjay told me. “Wi-Fi sends the data over radio waves quickly and reliably so that the thing you’re trying to do, or video you’re trying to stream, or game you’re trying to play, happens in a seamless way so you’re not stuck to your wall with an ethernet cable.” 

Wi-Fi operates on 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio frequencies. Think of those numbers like tuning your car to 97.9 FM to hear your favorite station. Except you don’t actually need to set anything yourself. Your Wi-Fi router decides which radio station to put your devices on so you can watch YouTube videos on your smartphone or take a video call while moving around your house. Multiple Wi-Fi networks can exist on the same frequencies, which is why you might see your neighbors’ networks when you try to connect on your device. (And respondents to our survey know this well: 13 percent said they have tried to connect to another network in their area, and five percent have asked their neighbors if they could tap into their Wi-Fi.)

Why does my Wi-Fi slow down at certain times? 

The overwhelming majority (81 percent) of router users in our survey have experienced issues with their home Wi-Fi. Among people who experience issues, half reported dealing with a slow connection, and 43 percent report slower speeds during certain times of day. 

I live in New York City and sometimes, particularly at night, my Wi-Fi gets particularly slow. And that’s because other New Yorkers are trying to stream their favorite TV shows, too. “That’s Wi-Fi congestion,” Sanjay told me. “If you have multiple Wi-Fi networks operating at once in the same area, they’re all using the same frequency ranges.” 

But if you use Google Wifi, there’s a way to avoid that problem. Wi-Fi was originally built for only 2.4 GHz, then newer Wi-Fi technology also added 5 GHz channels.  (If you see a wireless network with the number 5 at the end, that’s what that means.) That means you sometimes may have to pick which one to connect to when you’re online. But with Google Wifi, the experience is simplified. Users just connect to one network and are automatically moved between channels with a technology called “band steering.” Google Wifi also seamlessly selects the Wi-Fi frequencies it uses,  depending on the congestion, so you can binge-watch without interruption. 

How come some parts of my home get better Wi-Fi? 

According to Sanjay, that depends on your router. “A single router is like a lightbulb,” he says, noting a lightbulb has a limited range of light, and a router has a limited range of signal. “Just like you have multiple lightbulbs throughout your house, we want to make it easy for you to put in multiple routers.” 

Google Wifi is “mesh technology,” and it enables you to get better Wi-Fi by putting additional Wi-Fi routers throughout your home. So it’s like having multiple lightbulbs in your house, instead of expecting one lightbulb by your front door to illuminate your attic. Having a mesh system helps spread Wi-Fi signals throughout your home, wherever you’re using Wi-Fi. 

“Even though Wi-Fi has been around for many years, many people still experience Wi-Fi that cuts out,” Sanjay says. “We’re applying our years of experience to make Wi-Fi even more accessible everywhere in your home, not just in the room with the router.” 

Wi-Fi survey

Even though Wi-Fi might be like your best friend, some people have an odd way of showing it. According to our study, router users go to great lengths to hide their routers. Over two in five router users confess they’ve attempted to hide their networking device because of its appearance. So, we designed Google Wifi to look different from a traditional router. Instead of clunky cords and external antennas, Google Wifi is sleek and compact, so you may not mind having it hang out on you counter or shelf for the best connection possible. That way  you can hang out with your best friend, anywhere in the house, without worrying about making the place look neat. 

Mariate Arnal wants everyone in Mexico to get online

When you enter Mariate Arnal’s office, you can feel the energy. Her whiteboard always has a work-in-progress idea, her agenda is fully packed and new folders, papers and documents show up on her desk at all times. Despite her daily tasks as managing director of Google Mexico, her energy always stays high, so much so that she walks up and down the office stairs every day. 

Mariate describes herself as restless and passionate. She studied to become an engineer, and enjoyed math and questioned how things worked since she was a little girl. Born in Venezuela and a recent Mexican citizen, she is constantly examining how to make things better, not only inside the office, but also outside it, brainstorming how to make an impact and solve the problems the country has.

She has a challenging mission: creating two different strategies for one single country. “Mexico has a very Dickensian quality: it’s a country of two tales,” she says. “You have the technologically advanced Mexico, and the left behind Mexico.”

With the first edition of Google for Mexico happening this July, it was the perfect time to sit down with Mariate for the She Word and learn about her the challenges of her role and her vision for empowering women with technology. 

Make digital access inclusive. 

Mexico has a population of over 119 million people, 63 percent of which is online. “Mexico is a top 10 market for core Google products such as YouTube, Chrome, Search and Gmail,” she says. “However, the thing we need to focus on is how to bring in the rest of the people who aren’t yet online. And to do so we need to have a different approach.” An important challenge to get the remaining 37 percent of Mexicans online is that connectivity is quite expensive, so Mariate pushes Google to design products for a country where data is very costly.

Learn from other countries. 

There are 11 countries that will account for a significant share of the next billion new internet users in the world, and Mexico is one of them. Each Next Billion User (NBU) country launches different Google products, but Mariate believes it’s important to examine what other countries are doing about issues that are similar to Mexico’s. 

Mariate considers Google Pay’s launch in India a great example, since both countries have very low levels of bank usage. Another example is the investment on the Indonesian startup GO-JEK, which addresses technology issues many of these countries have, like a lack of affordable connectivity. “Despite the differences each market may have, we can learn a lot from each other, take in the best experiences and explore new opportunities in our country,” Mariate said. 

Become a helping hand for small businesses.   

Building digital skills is essential to close the gap between the tech-savvy and the yet-to-be-connected parts of Mexico. That’s clear when you look at small businesses, and how many of them have yet to take advantage of digital solutions like online shopping. “Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of the country’s economy,” Mariate says.  “However, most of them are not betting on online opportunities.” There are over 5 million small and medium businesses in Mexico, which represent more than 50 percent of the country’s GDP. Many of those businesses don’t know how to bring themselves online, and those who do invest less than one percent of their budget in digital marketing. 

Mariate thinks trainings like the ones Grow With Google offers can help small business owners learn more about the importance of digital skills and how to use them for their businesses. She also believes that products like Google My Business can keep growing to solve wide-ranging problems, from helping customers discover businesses to allowing customers to make transactions, such as shopping or making a reservation.   

Open up more opportunities for women. 

In an industry that’s majority male and in a country with a large gender gap, Mariate is an advocate for women both at Google and across Mexico. Most recently, she was on a panel at the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society, one of the most influential global events focused on inclusion and women’s empowerment. 

During the panel, the main topic was to discuss what’s next for women in business, and the current challenges that prevent them from reaching  leadership positions. “What many companies are still not realizing is that it’s not just bringing women into the organizations, but working on a true inclusion,” Mariate said during the panel. “If they don’t include women, they are just going to leave.” 

In the office, she’s an executive sponsor of Women@Google, the company’s largest employee resource group, which is focused on women’s inclusion and empowerment. There, she has recently helped create alliances with nonprofits so that Googlers can help unprivileged girls have access to STEM classes. 

In many communities in Mexico, women are the breadwinners. But half of them have a very limited education, so they turn to the informal economy to support their families. Mariate, as a fighter for gender equality, wants to help women join the formal economy. “As a woman, when you are close to technology you can make a leap in every sense,” she says. “Technology can also give you more economic opportunities.”

#PrideForever: Seven Googlers on the fight for LGBTQ+ rights

Earlier this month, we launched Pride Forever, celebrating the past, present and future of the LGBTQ+ community by elevating stories from around the world, like the ones from the Stonewall Forever living monument. This interactive digital monument was created by the LGBT Community Center of New York City (“the Center”) with support from Google, and it connects diverse voices and stories from the 50 years since the Stonewall riots to the modern-day movement for LGBTQ+ rights. 

Those voices include members of Google’s LGBTQ+ community, too. In offices all over the world, Googlers are reflecting on their own journeys and sharing their stories with the world. Here’s a glimpse of what seven Googlers say pride means to them.

Pride Forever

“For over a decade, I struggled to accept that I could possibly be trans. Then in 2012, Argentina passed its gender identity law–the first in the world to allow gender self-determination. While far removed from my home in Indonesia, it meant that people like me might finally have a chance at transitioning and living without harmful legal and medical gatekeeping. It gave me the courage to accept myself and start standing up for my right to be.” — Jean, Singapore

Pride Forever

“Two years ago, I was honored to create a Google Doodle for Gilbert Baker, creator of the rainbow flag representing diversity, unity, acceptance and pride. The first flag was made by hand, so I wanted to create a Doodle with the same handmade feeling. I learned to sew (not easy!) and recreated the flag in my tiny kitchen just a few blocks from where Baker made his original eight-color flag back in 1978. As an LGBTQ+ person, the flag and this Doodle were beyond personal to me, and it’s part of why I joined the Google Doodle team, in hopes of having opportunities to brighten and strengthen people’s days.” — Nate, San Francisco

Pride Forever

“We were both engineers working in male-dominated industries where being a lesbian was difficult. We were asked on a regular basis about husbands or why we weren’t married. California’s Prop 8 in 2008 (banning same-sex marriage) was an eye-opening moment for us. Although the prop passed, there was a large public opposition campaign standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. It felt like a turning point for people across the United States showing that it was OK to support the LGBTQ+ cause without substantial retribution.”  — Candace and Michelle, South Carolina

Pride Forever

William, left, with his family. 

"Many people have shaped my life—but perhaps the most meaningful people in my life are my husband, whom I have been with for nearly 30 years, and my son, who gives me more joy (and a fair amount of frustration) than I could have ever imagined. For them, I owe thanks in large part to a valiant handful of New Yorkers whom I've never met. Their act of defiance at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago ultimately enabled me to live, love and be who I am." — William, New York

Pride Forever

“When I first came out to my parents, my dad told me I’d never get a good job, and I’d lose all my friends unless I ‘changed my mind’ about being gay. That really hurt—that being gay is still seen as different, even to well-meaning people. Marriage equality in the U.K. in 2013 felt like a huge validation. The fact that this was part of an international wave, it was really a feeling of progressive acceptance.” — Nick, London

Pride Forever

“The original LGBTQ+ initialism was created in the late 1980s to introduce a more inclusive name for the gay community. To me, the LGBTQ+ acronym represents a diverse group of people that are unique and resilient. I am so proud to be a part of a community that is constantly evolving its boundaries for inclusion and actively championing societal equality. Even though there is still more to be done, being able to lean on one another for support—no matter where in the LGBTQ+ spectrum you fall—binds us together and has enabled us to make impressive progress across the globe.” — Andrew, Sydney


For this Googler, teaching code is a “drag”

If you’re looking to learn how to code, there are tons of tutorials on YouTube—but only a few star a wise-cracking drag queen in a candy-colored wig. That’s Anna Lytical, who was dreamed up by Billy Jacobson, an engineer at Google’s New York office who wants to bring some drag to the tech world—and bring some tech to the drag world, too. 

Billy's interest in drag and computer science started around the same time, in high school. He got into drag as a fan, through watching the show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” after school. By the time he moved to New York after college, the show had become an Emmy-winning hit and he was inspired to give drag a try himself. “I had been looking for a new creative outlet, because I had done a lot of theater in high school and I was not doing any of that in the city,” he says. 

So he watched makeup tutorials on YouTube, and took a class to refine his skills. About two years ago, he performed for the first time as Anna Lytical, a name he says describes his personality on and off stage. “I’ll always be analytical even if I’m not Anna Lytical,” he jokes. (He briefly contemplated another math-inspired name, Carrie the One, but it was already taken.)

This year, Billy decided to take Anna Lytical to YouTube, with an unexpected twist: a channel dedicated to teaching people about computer science. With nods to famous drag queens, Anna’s videos teach people how to code, with lots of projects and pop-culture references to keep viewers interested.

Anna Lytical's coding tutorials

The channel is a departure from other educational videos, which can sometimes be dry and academic. “If you want to make fan art for your favorite drag queen, why not turn it into an interactive website?” Billy says, explaining how he uses projects to teach people about CS. “That’s a way you could get introduced to coding.” This month, Anna Lytical’s channel started an in-depth series that serves as an introduction to computer science, “all dragged up.” 

Anna Lytical teaches Computer Science 101

“I’m trying to bring tech to people who are interested in drag, and show them you can be queer and flamboyant and be an engineer and code and that’s totally fine,” Billy says. “I’m also showing people in tech you can be a guy who wears makeup, and you can be an engineer who does drag and performs and expresses yourself.”

Billy says it’s important to boost LGBTQ+ representation in the tech world, because the industry should reflect the people who use tech products. (That’s everyone, after all.) “If there aren’t people like you building the technology around you, you’re not going to get represented in it,” he says. “There could be a form asking you to fill out information about yourself, and maybe there’s not a gender option that lines up with you. Or a name field that doesn’t accept a character in your name. Representation all around is really important.”

Through Anna Lytical, Billy has found more than just the creative outlet he was looking for. “I don’t totally think of Anna Lytical as a separate person, but more of a space,” he says. “A space I’m free to express myself however I want, wear whatever I want and feel comfortable with it.” Not all Anna Lytical’s videos feature full wigs and dialed-up glamour—one, for example, is a casual tutorial, filmed in a bathroom, demonstrating how to create the Chrome logo using eye makeup. 

Anna Lytical's Chrome makeup tutorial

Regardless of the glam factor, Billy says it’s all drag. “I think drag means a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” he explains. “A lot of drag we see in the media is about exploring femininity, but I see a lot of people explore masculinity with drag, too. I like to go in both directions and play with all these things.” 

Billy Jacobson (left) presenting at I/O 2019.

Billy (left) presenting at I/O 2019.

Billy took the stage at I/O this year to discuss storing Internet of Things data. And though the audience may not have noticed, he brought a little bit of drag with him. He wore foundation and concealer, and played up his eyebrows with makeup, which gave him an extra dose of confidence on stage. “It’s kind of having a lucky charm. Maybe not everyone’s going to see it if you keep it in your pocket, but it’s there for you,” he says. “People probably won’t notice I’m wearing makeup, but I know. It’s not for them, it’s for me.”