From Google Home to Maps, AdWords to Docs, our interns have the opportunity to work on some of Google’s most cutting edge and innovative projects. Interns work across sales, engineering, and other business functions, bringing a fresh perspective to Google. To show just how much of an impact interns make, we’re bringing you our Asia-Pacific Google Intern Insights. Today we’re catching up with FOUR interns: Mercy Fang, Software Engineering Intern, Beijing, China; Jim Chen, Software Engineering Intern, Beijing, China; Nagea Astiarini Delaya, MBA Intern, Indonesia; and Snigdha Singhania, Software Engineering Intern, Singapore. Read on!
Mercy Fang, Software Engineering Intern, Beijing, China
Jim Chen, Software Engineering Intern, Beijing, China
Nagea Astiarini Delaya, MBA Intern, Indonesia
Snigdha Singhania, Software Engineering Intern, Singapore
Tell us one fun, outlandish fact about you!
Mercy: I don’t have just one! I love travelling and have already been to 20 countries. I’ve also tried extreme sports like bungee jumping, paragliding, and parasailing. My favorite music is rock, and I was the lead singer and guitarist in my band back in high school. Two years ago I found out about drumming ,and now I’m also a drummer.
Jim: I could solve Rubik’s cubes from Pocket Cube (2x2x2) to V-Cube 9 (9x9x9) when I was in high school.
Nagea: I am a trained classical chorister — I sing classical songs (i.e. Bach, Beethoven, and Whitacre) with a choir. In July 2009, my choir and I sang (and won) in choir competitions and festivals in 15 cities across five countries in Europe.
Snigdha: My intern host and I have a routine alarm, twice a day, to do push-ups together. We're pretty serious about it — so much so that it's even marked on our calendars!
What inspired you to apply for this internship, and what made Google appealing to you?
Mercy: I started learning Computer Science two years ago and I thought I would learn more if I interned at a large-scale company with many different projects, like small startups. Google is exactly this kind of company. I interned at Google Mountain View last summer (my sophomore year) as an Engineering Practicum intern and then this summer returned as a Software Engineering intern in the Beijing office.
Jim: There are a considerable number of talented computer science students at school, and many of them shared their previous experiences at Google, so I set a goal for myself and aimed to be able to catch up with them. Google is a leading company in computer science and engineering, so I really appreciated an opportunity to work with smart people and awesome tech groups. Then, about one year ago, I registered for a few online courses that introduced specific programming languages and advanced topics, like machine learning and computer vision. I then completed several projects applying those new techniques, which also enhanced my strength in coding and program design.
Nagea: I have been a true believer of Solow Growth Model — a Nobel Prize winner for economics — since I learned it last semester at the Darden School. For the past 15 years, I have witnessed Google move tech progression forward, which makes living life and doing business much easier, and I wanna be part of that.
Snigdha: My colleagues from a previous internship inspired me to apply! Being part of a community that is striving to make a positive impact in everyone's life (and succeeding) is extremely gratifying. Also, isn't it just so cool to say you work for Google :)?
What team are you working on at Google? Can you provide us with a high-level description of your summer project?
Mercy: I worked on a new Face Detection feature for the Street View iOS app. When users upload 360 photos, they could click a button and it will automatically detect faces, and users could blur them. The work is on a large scale diffing testing platform that’s used to detect code outputs in order to verify that code changes result in intended output changes and work as expected. It helps ensure the reliability and correctness of code.
Jim: I’m currently working on the Search Developers Services team, which mainly focuses on easy tools for web and app developers. My project essentially contains two parts — to build a web tool for Podcast developers, and a tool for Android developers. This project is not only an independent one, but will also benefit developers. I feel quite lucky to work on this project from scratch.
Nagea: I worked with Google's Large Customer Sales team in Indonesia, and over my summer internship I worked on projects involving some of Google's most exciting challenges in building sustainable, high-growth businesses in Indonesia.
Snigdha: I'm working with Team Allo in Singapore. This summer, the goal of my project was to enhance the user experience provided by this chat platform, particularly for the Next Billion Users.
What’s the best part about working at Google?
Mercy: Working at Google and with my team is not all about programming. It feels like a lifestyle instead of just a job. In the beginning of my internship, our Beijing team hosted a summit and invited people from other offices. We had a couple of days of intensive discussion on various topics about the diffing testing platform, and as a result, I had a more comprehensive understanding of the platform. We had a team-building event on the last day and went to HouHai and Hutong. These were a lot of fun, and it felt like the team was a family.
I also had access to search on the Google code base, which allowed me to see other people’s code and learn about other projects. Google also has many online courses and tech talks every week that introduce you to various coding skills. So coming in means making progress and learning new things.
Jim: Googlers at my office have established many fun clubs, including a bunch of very interesting topics like latte art, board games, and various sports activities. Folks around me are not just working and coding all day — they have exuberant daily lives other than working. For me, since I’m a beginner at piano, I like to spend one hour a day practicing at my office. We all know that Google embraces and advocates for diversity, but I’d like to add that Google roots for and help Googlers build their own distinctions as well.
Nagea: First, my manager is an extremely funny person, I can't remember any meetings without her humor. It really helped me loosen up, especially before presenting to higher-level people at the company. Second, but probably best of all, she wanted me to succeed. Despite her packed schedule, she ensured that I am working on a meaningful project that the team could use after my internship, and provided me with all of the resources and network she has. My team shares this trait — they would sit with me and share all the knowledge I needed for my project and for my professional aspirations.
Snigdha: Working with host has been such a delight! Not only is she open to every Allo idea that I have (no matter how bizarre they are), she also helps me pitch them to the team. She is always willing to answer my questions about my project, the team, or even which course I should take in uni next term. Speaking of my team, in general, they are some of the smartest people I have come across, never shying away from helping me in any way they can. Keeping work aside, having asinine but extraordinary lunch conversations is something that I will surely miss about this group.
What does “being Googley” mean to you?
Jim: Google’s policies have been very flexible for Googlers. As an engineer, I think “being Googley” could be interpreted as “being self-driven.” We need to be active to push forward our progress, be willing to collaborate with people with a variety of backgrounds, and be passionate to derive any innovative ideas which could possibly make a huge difference. Seizing every tiny moment to contribute to the entire community is also crucial.
Nagea: Being Googley means being able to navigate through uncertainty and chaos. Google is all about uncharted territory — creating new products, building new businesses, telling new stories, inventing new ways of life. Observing my team here, “being Googley” is their ability to find structure in such uncertain situations that help guarantee them success.
Snigdha: Embracing the open culture and transparency at Google is what defines Googleyness for me. This sharing culture teaches you something new every day — be it from a senior software engineer, your manager, or an intern. Everyday breakfast/lunch conversations range from the latest machine learning tools and Firebase issues to "why can't emus walk backwards?”
If you could give one piece of advice to potential student applicants, what would it be?
Mercy: Practice programming as much as possible. Complete software engineering projects. Practice data structure and algorithm questions for programming interviews. But not just that! Some interview questions test your problem-solving skills, which takes practice and experience. I think Cracking the Coding Interview is a good book to read for interview preparation. It gives tips and also some sample practice problems.
- Polish your coding ability as much as you can. Tech companies are mostly asking their applicants to complete a couple of coding challenges in the interview, so it’s a fundamental and crucial requirement to move forward your application. There are many online resources, so make good use of them as soon as possible. If you don’t have a lot of experience solving coding challenges, you may find it a bit difficult even when working on some questions that seem easy. Don’t get scared, and be patient. Read other people’s solutions step-by-step and you’ll gradually (but definitely) improve.
- Be active in the interview. Don’t hesitate to demonstrate your idea. If the interview question is not something you are familiar with, it’s really hard to instantly come up with a perfect or optimal solution at the very beginning. Don’t worry about that; interviewers are actually expecting that. What you should do is take a short while to think on you own, and if you get stuck at some phase, just speak out loud, show that you’ve been thinking, and ask for a potential hint or feedback. The interviewer wants to see how you respond, so don’t be silent for too long. Consider the interview a collaboration with your teammate.
Snigdha: My colleagues from a previous internship helped me prepare for the interview process — my friend and I would spend hours discussing several algorithms and data structure questions everyday. This boosted my confidence and encouraged me to apply for this summer internship.