Tag Archives: students

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

Welcome to the 24th installment of our blog series “My Path to Google.” These are real stories from Googlers, interns, and alumni highlighting how they got to Google, what their roles are like, and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Satyaki Upadhyay. Read on!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the 23rd installment of our blog series “My Path to Google.” These are real stories from Googlers, interns, and alumni highlighting how they got to Google, what their roles are like, and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Annie Jean-Baptiste. Read on!

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

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

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

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

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

What inspires you to come in every day?

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

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

How did the recruitment process go for you?

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

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

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

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

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

My first open source project and Google Code-in

This is a guest post from a mentor with coala, an open source tool for linting and fixing code in many different languages, which participated in Google Code-in 2017.

About two years ago, my friend Gyan and I built a small web app which checked whether or not a given username was available on a few popular social media websites. The idea was simple: judge availability of the username on the basis of an HTTP response. Here’s a pseudo-code example:
website_url = form_website_url(website, username)
# Eg: form_website_url('github', 'manu-chroma') returns 'github.com/manu-chroma'

if website_url_response.http_code == 404:
username available
username taken
Much to our delight, it worked! Well, almost. It had a lot of bugs but we didn’t care much at the time. It was my first Python project and the first time I open sourced my work. I always look back on it as a cool idea, proud that I made it and learned a lot in the process.

But the project had been abandoned until John from coala approached me. John suggested we use it for Google Code-in because one of coala’s tasks for the students was to create accounts on a few common coding related websites. Students could use the username availability tool to find a good single username–people like their usernames to be consistent across websites–and coala could use it to verify that the accounts were created.

I had submitted a few patches to coala in the past, so this sounded good to me! The competition clashed with my vacation plans, but I wanted to get involved, so I took the opportunity to become a mentor.

Over the course of the program, students not only used the username availability tool but they also began making major improvements. We took the cue and began adding tasks specifically about the tool. Here are just a few of the things students added:
  • Regex to determine whether a given username was valid for any given website
  • More websites, bringing it to a total of 13
  • Tests (!)
The web app is online so you can check username availability too!

I had such a fun time working with students in Google Code-in, their enthusiasm and energy was amazing. Special thanks to students Andrew, Nalin, Joshua, and biscuitsnake for all the time and effort you put into the project. You did really useful work and I hope you learned from the experience!

I want to thank John for approaching me in the first place and suggesting we use and improve the project. He was an unstoppable force throughout the competition, helping both students and fellow mentors. John even helped me with code reviews to really refine the work students submitted, and help them improve based on the feedback.

Kudos to the Google Open Source team for organizing it so well and lowering the barriers of entry to open source for high school students around the world.

By Manvendra Singh, coala mentor

A galactic experience in Google Code-in 2017

This is a guest post from Liquid Galaxy, one of the organizations that participated in both Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in 2017.

Liquid Galaxy, an open source project that powers panoramic views spanning multiple computers and displays, has been participating in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) since 2011. However, we never applied to participate in Google Code-in (GCI) because we heard stories from other projects about long hours and interrupted holidays in service of mentoring eager young students.

That changed in 2017! And, while the stories are true, we have to say it’s also an amazing and worthwhile experience.

It was hard for our small project to recruit the number of mentors needed. Thankfully, our GSoC mentors stepped up, as did many former GSoC students. We even had forward thinking students who were interested in participating in GSoC 2018 volunteer to mentor! While it was challenging, our team of mentors helped us have a nearly flawless GCI experience.

The Google Open Source team only had to nudge us once, when a student’s task had been pending review for more than 36 hours. We’re pretty happy with that considering we had nearly 500 tasks completed over the 50 days of the contest.

More important than our experience, though, is the student experience. We learned a lot, seeing how they chose tasks, the attention to detail some of them put into their work, and the level of interaction between the students and the mentors. Considering these were young students, ranging in age from 13 to 17, they far exceeded our expectations.

There was one piece of advice the Google Open Source team gave us that we didn’t understand as GCI newbies: have a large number of tasks ready from day one, and leave some unpublished until the halfway point. That ended up being key, it ensured we had enough tasks for the initial flood of students and some in reserve for the second flood around the holidays. Our team of mentors worked hard from the moment we were accepted into GCI to the moment we began to create over 150 tasks in five different categories. Students seemed to think we did a good job and told us they enjoyed the variety of tasks and level of difficulty.

We’re glad we finally participated in Google Code-in and we’ll definitely be applying next time! You can learn more about the project and the students who worked with us on our blog.

By Andreu Ibáñez, Liquid Galaxy org admin

My Path to Google: Christof Leng, Site Reliability Engineer

Welcome to the 22nd installment of our blog series “My Path to Google.” These are real stories from Googlers, interns, and alumni highlighting how they got to Google, what their roles are like, and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Christof Leng. Read on!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating open source mentorship with Joomla

Let’s marvel for a moment: as Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2018 begins, 46 of the participating open source organizations are celebrating a decade or more with the program. There are 586 collective years of mentorship between them, and that’s just through GSoC.

Free and open source software projects have been doing outreach and community building since the beginning. The free software movement has been around for 35 years, and open source has been around for 20.

Bringing new people into open source is necessary for project health and sustainability, but it’s not easy. It takes time and effort to prepare onboarding materials and mentor people. It takes personal dedication, a welcoming culture, and a commitment to institutional knowledge. Sustained volunteerism at this scale is worthy of celebration!

Joomla is one open source project that exemplifies this and Puneet Kala is one such person. Joomla, a web content management system (CMS) that was first released in 2005, is now on their 11th year of GSoC. More than 80 students have participated over the years. Most students are still actively contributing, and many have gone on to become mentors.

Puneet, now Joomla’s GSoC team lead, began with the project as a student five years ago. He sent along this article celebrating their 10th anniversary, which includes links to interviews with other students who have become mentors, and this panel discussion from Joomla World Conference.

It’s always great to hear from the people who have participated in Google Summer of Code. The stories are inspiring and educational. They know a thing or two about building open source communities, so we share what they have to say: you can find guest posts here.

We’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the 608 open source organizations and 12,000 organization administrators and mentors who have been a part of GSoC so far. We’d also like to applaud the 46 organizations that have 10+ years under their belts!

Your tireless investment in the future of people and open source is a testament to generosity.

By Josh Simmons, Google Open Source

Coding your way into cinemas

This is a guest post from apertus° and TimVideos.us, open source organizations that participated in Google Summer of Code last year and are back for 2018!

The apertus° AXIOM project is bringing the world’s first open hardware/free software digital motion picture production camera to life. The project has a rich history, exercises a steadfast adherence to the open source ethos, and all aspects of development have always revolved around supporting and utilising free technologies. The challenge of building a sophisticated digital cinema camera was perfect for Google Summer of Code 2017. But let’s start at the beginning: why did the team behind the project embark on their journey?

Modern Cinematography

For over a century film was dominated by analog cameras and celluloid, but in the late 2000’s things changed radically with the adoption of digital projection in cinemas. It was a natural next step, then, for filmmakers to shoot and produce films digitally. Certain applications in science, large format photography and fine arts still hold onto 35mm film processing, but the reduction in costs and improved workflows associated with digital image capture have revolutionised how we create and consume visual content.

The DSLR revolution

Photo by Matthew Pearce
licensed CC SA 2.0.
Filmmaking has long been considered an expensive discipline accessible only to a select few. This all changed with the adoption of movie recording capabilities in digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. For multinational corporations this “new” feature was a relatively straightforward addition to existing models as most compact digital photo cameras could already record video clips. This was the first time that a large diameter image sensor, a vital component for creating the typical shallow depth of field we consider cinematic, appeared in consumer cameras. In recent times, user groups have stepped up to contribute to the DSLR revolution first-hand, including groups like the Magic Lantern community.

Magic Lantern

Photo by Dave Dugdale licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.
Magic Lantern is a free and open source software add-on that runs from a camera’s SD/CF card. It adds a host of new features to Canon’s DSLRs that weren't included from the factory, such as allowing users to record high-dynamic range (HDR) video or 14-bit uncompressed RAW video. It’s a community project and many filmmakers simply wouldn’t have bought a Canon camera if it weren’t for the features that Magic Lantern pioneered. Because installing Magic Lantern doesn’t replace the stock Canon firmware or modify the read-only memory (ROM) but runs alongside it, it is both easy to remove and carries little risk. Originally developed for filmmaking, Magic Lantern’s feature base has expanded to include tools useful for still photography as well.

Starting the revolution for real 

Of course, Magic Lantern has been held back by the underlying proprietary hardware routines on existing camera models. So, in 2014 a team of developers and filmmakers around the apertus° project joined forces with the Magic Lantern team to lay the foundation for a totally independent, open hardware, free software, digital cinema camera. They ran a successful crowdfunding campaign for initial development, and they completed hardware development of the first developer kits in 2016. Unlike traditional cameras, the AXIOM is designed to be completely modular, and so continuously evolve, thereby preventing it from ever becoming obsolete. How the camera evolves is determined by its user community, with its design files and source code freely available and users encouraged to duplicate, modify and redistribute anything and everything related to the camera.

While the camera is primarily for use in motion picture production, there are many suitable applications where AXIOM can be useful. Individuals in science, astronomy, medicine, aerial mapping, industrial automation, and those who record events or talks at conferences have expressed interest in the camera. A modular and open source device for digital imaging allows users to build a system that meets their unique requirements. One such company for instance, Mavrx Inc, who use aerial imagery to provide actionable insight for the agriculture industry, used the camera because it enabled them to not only process the data more efficiently than comparable camera equivalents, but also to re-configure its form factor so that it could be installed alongside existing equipment configurations.

Google Summer of Code 2017

Continuing their journey, apertus° participated in Google Summer of Code for the first time in 2017. They received about 30 applications from interested students, from which they needed to select three. Projects ranged from field programmable gate array (FPGA) centered video applications to creating Linux kernel drivers for specific camera hardware. Similarly TimVideos.us, an open hardware project for live event streaming and conference recording, is working on FPGA projects around video interfaces and processing.

After some preliminary work, the students came to grips with the camera’s operating processes and all three dove in enthusiastically. One student failed the first evaluation and another failed the second, but one student successfully completed their work.

That student, Vlad Niculescu, worked on defining control loops for a voltage controller using VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL) for a potential future AXIOM Beta Power Board, an FPGA-driven smart switching regulator for increasing the power efficiency and improving flexibility around voltage regulation.
Left: The printed circuit board (PCB) (printed circuit board) for testing the switching regulator FPGA logic. Right: After final improvements the fluctuation ripple in the voltages was reduced to around 30mV at 2V target voltage.
Vlad had this to say about his experience:

“The knowledge I acquired during my work with this project and apertus° was very satisfying. Besides the electrical skills gained I also managed to obtain other, important universal skills. One of the things I learned was that the key to solving complex problems can often be found by dividing them into small blocks so that the greater whole can be easily observed by others. Writing better code and managing the stages of building a complex project have become lessons that will no doubt become valuable in the future. I will always be grateful to my mentor as he had the patience to explain everything carefully and teach me new things step by step, and also to apertus° and Google’s Summer of Code program, without which I may not have gained the experience of working on a project like this one.”

We are grateful for Vlad’s work and congratulate him for successfully completing the program. If you find open hardware and video production interesting, we encourage you to reach out and join the community–both apertus° and TimVideos.us are back for Google Summer of Code 2018.

By Sebastian Pichelhofer, apertus°, and Tim 'mithro' Ansell, TimVideos.us

Getting to know a research intern: Cathin Wong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What project was your internship focused on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kickstart: Want to grow your coding skills?

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

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

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

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

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

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

We hope to see you on the scoreboard!

Student applications open for Google Summer of Code 2018

Originally posted by Josh Simmons from the Google Open Source Team on the Google Open Source Blog.

Ready, set, go! Today we begin accepting applications from university students who want to participate in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2018. Are you a university student? Want to use your software development skills for good? Read on.

Now entering its 14th year, GSoC gives students from around the globe an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of open source software development while working from home. Students receive a stipend for successful contribution to allow them to focus on their project for the duration of the program. A passionate community of mentors help students navigate technical challenges and monitor their progress along the way.

Past participants say the real-world experience that GSoC provides sharpened their technical skills, boosted their confidence, expanded their professional network and enhanced their resume.

Interested students can submit proposals on the program site between now and Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at 16:00 UTC.

While many students began preparing in February when we announced the 212 participating open source organizations, it's not too late to start! The first step is to browse the list of organizations and look for project ideas that appeal to you. Next, reach out to the organization to introduce yourself and determine if your skills and interests are a good fit. Since spots are limited, we recommend writing a strong proposal and submitting a draft early so you can get feedback from the organization and increase the odds of being selected.

You can learn more about how to prepare in the video below and in the Student Guide.

You can find more information on our website, including a full timeline of important dates. We also highly recommend perusing the FAQ and Program Rules, as well as joining the discussion mailing list.

Remember to submit your proposals early as you only have until Tuesday, March 27 at 16:00 UTC. Good luck to all who apply!