Author Archives: Jessie Linn

How a second chance led Paula to Google

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns, apprentices and alumni about 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 Paula Martinez, a Google Cloud Marketing Manager based in Argentina.

How would you describe your role?

As a Partner Marketing Manager, my main responsibility is to design marketing campaigns for Google Cloud products and solutions with our regional technological and reseller partners.

What does your typical workday look like?

I try to start my day without any meetings so I can get organized, create my to-do list and tackle the most pressing tasks. I work a lot with our sales teams and partners to plan and execute marketing initiatives that fit market strategies. Part of my day is focused on measuring and analyzing those campaigns and, with the help of my team, creating action plans based on the results. I'm the only one on my team based in Argentina, so I spend a lot of time connecting with my teammates virtually.

Paula stands with her husband and dog on grass next to a pond on a clear day.

Paula, her husband Fredy and their Doogler (Dog-Googler), Jagger.

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

My dad is from a traditional Venezuelan family, and my mom’s side of the family is Indigenous. Specifically, they’re from the Wayuu people, a community located in the Guajira Peninsula between Venezuela and Colombia. My parents wanted to give me an Indigenous name so I always remember my roots. Kai'tu is my middle name and means “Bright Sun” in Wayuunaiki, the language of our people.

For a long time, I struggled with my dual identity. But I’ve finally understood that it makes me unique and that I’m privileged to belong to both cultures.

Old portrait-style photo of Paula as a young girl with her two sisters, mother, father and grandmother.

Paula (front row, far right) with her sisters, mother, father and grandmother.

Why did you decide to apply to Google?

Something in me knew I would make it here, so I prepared myself. I applied to different roles over time, but without much success. When this job opened up on the Partner Marketing team, I felt like I had a good chance. I knew a lot about this field — I specialized in team management and strategy development — and had worked with partners in the region before.

What was your application experience like?

I actually have a funny story about my application. I put together my resume trying to highlight the skills from the job description. But I accidentally attached an old version of my resume that wasn’t very applicable to this role.

After a few days, I received an email similar to others I’d gotten in the past, saying, “Thank you for applying, but…” I stared at the screen bewildered, because I felt really good about my application. Later that day, I received another email. It was from a Google recruiter saying they felt something was off with my application. They asked me to complete a few questions and send my current resume. They gave me a second chance. I was always a fan of second chances, but now I’m a devout believer in them.

How did you prepare for your interview?

I’m a pretty methodical person, so I created scripts for each interview round. I thought about different scenarios and possible questions and answers, and prepared examples of my successes, failures and projects. This helped me a lot because almost all the interviews were in English, which is not my first language. So it allowed me to structure and better facilitate my line of thought.

What inspires you to come in (or log on) to work every day?

I feel a responsibility to represent every Indigenous girl with big dreams. I also really enjoy my work and the team I’m on. I feel super lucky to have the opportunity to learn and work with people I appreciate and respect. With them, I learn something every day.

Any tips for aspiring Googlers?

Preparation is key. Use the methods you know will work for you. Don't be overwhelmed by the excess of online information about interviews. Follow your recruiter’s recommendations — they know what you’ll be evaluated on.

How one summer program led Randy to work at Google

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns, apprentices and alumni about 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 Randy Raymond, a software engineer on the Google Docs team. Randy’s path to Google started with our Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) — which is now accepting applications until April 29, 2022 at 11:59PM ET.

What’s your role at Google?

I’m a software engineer on the Google Docs team, where I spend most of my days improving the ability to convert different document formats into Google Docs (and vice versa). I also build new Google Doc features — I just finished up a project to “pin” the top row of a table so it repeats on every page. I've used this feature in my own documents and it's really rewarding to know I had a hand in developing it. Outside of that, I write design docs, lines of code and tests to make sure that my code is working properly.

How did you first get interested in software engineering?

Growing up, my brother and I discovered a computer program that let us create our own video games. My brother managed the plot, and I was in charge of programming. It fascinated me that lines of text could bring a game to life. In my 11-year old mind, it was nothing short of magic. Before I knew it, I was picking up books at my local library to learn different programming languages. I started participating in online communities, publishing tutorials on how to code and bringing people together to build interesting games. It wasn’t just the technology that inspired me, but the people I shared it with.

What was your path to your current role?

In my senior year of high school, I applied and got accepted to Google’s CSSI program. During those three weeks, we got a deep dive into introductory web development, learned the programming language Python, worked on our resumes and teamed up to create our own websites. CSSI gave me confidence, a professional network and lifelong friends.

Afterwards, I applied for the Google STEP (Student Training in Engineering Program) internship in Mountain View, California for first and second-year undergraduate students. As my first professional gig, that experience was definitely challenging — but thankfully, I had supportive teammates who helped me become a much better engineer. After a few other Google internships in Boston and Montreal, I started working for the Google Docs team full time.

Randy in a cap and gown at his college graduation.

What was it like interviewing for a full-time position at Google as an intern?

My only official interview was for the STEP internship. After that, my "interviews" were how well I did on each of my internship projects. I’ll never forget towards the end of my first internship, I accidentally deleted my entire project! Thankfully, I had backed it up so I could still submit it in time.

Are you still involved in CSSI?

Actually, it’s sort of a full-circle story. During the pandemic, I relocated to Miami and started working with the CSSI team to try and start a new CSSI cohort there. And we just found out it’s officially happening! South Florida is my home and I've always dreamed of a chance to bring more tech opportunities there. CSSI has the potential to change the lives of aspiring computer science students in the area — it certainly changed mine.

Any tips for future Googlers?

It's OK to ask questions. Googlers are more than willing to help and there is no such thing as a bad question. And if you don’t feel comfortable speaking up in a meeting at first, jot down a list of your questions and sit down with a trusted teammate to go through them.

Why this engineer made a career move after 25 years

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns, apprentices and alumni about 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 Manav Mediratta, an Engineering Manager based in Bengaluru, India who made a career change after 25 years to follow his passion for AI.

How would you describe your role?

I’m an Engineering Manager on Google’s Silicon team, which develops software for Google’s hardware products — like Google Tensor, the chip used in Pixel phones. We keep Google's research in AI and machine learning at the center of our work.

What does your typical workday look like?

My days vary, but I usually focus on growing our relatively new teams in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. I also work with teammates in Taiwan to make sure we’re on track to deliver new devices for our customers. Because we work in such a fast-moving industry, we need to stay on our toes every day.

Manav sitting at his desk at home with an orange curtain behind him.

Manav working from his home office

What made you decide to apply to Google?

I worked in the same company for more than 25 years before I joined Google, so this is only my second job. Throughout my career, I discovered my passion for developing products with both hardware and software components. When I saw that Google had started the Silicon team, I was drawn by the potential to focus on this passion and create impact through machine learning and AI. Plus, I knew it would be a fun ride and a great opportunity to solve interesting problems.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

A lot of hard work goes into these small devices in our hands, and I’m always inspired by the difference it makes in people’s lives. Think about translation apps that bridge language gaps or camera features that capture memories — these are important, real-life moments powered by technology built by our team.

Manav stands on top of a mountain while on a hike with his wife and son.

Manav and his family

What was your application and interview experience like?

It was very smooth and accommodating! At first, the interviews seemed extensive and intimidating. But I learned you can work with your recruiter to organize an interview schedule that suits you. Google offers a lot of flexibility like this to help candidates feel comfortable. A couple of my interviews will always stick with me. They never felt like tests — they were conversations with passionate practitioners who were honest about what they did and just wanted to see how I’d fit in.

Any particular methods you used to prepare for your interviews?

I wrote down the top 10 problems I’ve solved throughout my career, technical or otherwise. This is very helpful to have on hand for any behavioral or situation-based questions.

What advice do you have for aspiring Googlers?

Everyone feels nervous before an interview — I definitely did! But I quickly realized that Google has designed the interview process to bring out the best in you. So be an active participant and co-create the interview experience you want. And don’t be afraid to take the plunge!

This engineer creates community for Indigenous Googlers

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about 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 Tamina Pitt, a Google Maps Software Engineer from our Sydney office and a founding member of the Google Aboriginal and Indigenous Network chapter in Australia.

What do you work on at Google?

As a Software Engineer for the Directions Platform team, I build the directions experience on Google Maps. I code for anyone who needs help finding their way. I love working on a feature that benefits so many people every day.

I'm a Wuthathi and Meriam woman, meaning that my ancestors are Aboriginal from Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands in Australia. I was born and grew up on the ancestral lands of the Gadigal and Bidjigal people in Sydney, where I still live today. When I came to Google, I wanted to create a community for Indigenous Googlers like me to come together and build a sense of belonging at work. So I co-founded the Australian chapter of the Google Aboriginal and Indigenous Network (GAIN), an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Googlers from, or passionate about, Indigenous and Aboriginal people. I also contribute to the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Google's commitment to empower and create equitable opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. As part of this work, I run events featuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speakers to help Googlers learn more about Indigenous culture.

Why did you apply to Google?

I first applied to Google when I was a student at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. I was in my second year and still unsure about my future in engineering. I hadn't been applying for internships because I didn't think I was good enough, but my parents pushed me to apply for one at Google — and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

Tamina stands outdoors in front of a wall of greenery, tossing a graduation cap. She is wearing a red outfit with a shrimp pattern, a black graduation robe, a red, yellow and black sash (the colors of the Aboriginal flag) and a blue and green sash (the colors of the Torres Strait Islander flag).

Tamina at her University of New South Wales graduation, wearing sashes representing the colors of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.

Describe your path to your current role.

I studied electrical engineering for a year or so, where I took a computing course that I really enjoyed. I eventually transferred to study computer engineering and discovered that I was interested in the software side.

Interning at Google helped me officially try software engineering out for size. My confidence grew once I got some hands-on experience — and now, I’ve been working at Google for two years as a full-time software engineer.

What inspires you to come in (or log in) every day?

I'm inspired by my community of Indigenous people in and outside of work, including the Indigenous activists and Elders who fought and continue to fight for our rights to be recognized. I'm also inspired by the growing interest I see in young Indigenous people and women to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It makes me really excited for the future.

I really enjoy working on Google Maps, too. Every time I meet a new person, they share their love of Google Maps or send me feature requests. I like knowing that the product I work on is useful for so many people and that I’m part of the team that can make it even better.

Tamina stands in front of a wall of leaves. She is wearing a red shirt with a black-and-white floral skirt. She holds cardboard signs of the Google Maps red logo and the Google “I’m Feeling Lucky” search button. She also wears a Noogler hat — a green, blue, red and yellow hat with a propeller.

Tamina at her Google orientation in Singapore.

What was your interview experience like?

I was very nervous for each interview, because I felt like I didn’t have enough coding experience. I was surprised by how friendly the interviewers were and even found myself having fun. As a new graduate, I was relieved that they didn’t expect me to perform at the same level as someone who's been working for many years.

What advice would you share with your past self?

When I was a student, I didn’t feel like I belonged — I was one of few women and the only Indigenous person in my class. Today, I know that so many people feel the same way. I would tell my past self to stay strong in my identity and feel proud of my achievements. I feel so supported by my community and I want to help other women, Indigenous people and anyone historically underrepresented in tech see their potential in this field.

A Googler’s impact on future Latino leaders

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are, and career tips.

Today’s post is about Monica Silva-Gutierrez, who shares how great mentors and mindfulness can sustain a professional journey, and how she is honoring Hispanic Heritage Month.

What do you do at Google?

I lead strategy and operations for the Core Systems and Experiences team at Google, which is responsible for making sure our products are always working and delivering the best possible user experience.

Alt text: Monica wearing a gold crown, gold beads, and a gray, Google-branded vest.

What was your path to Google?

I grew up in a small town in Texas along the Mexican border. My mom was a farm labor and women’s rights activist, and my dad was a salesman. Right after college — I attended a “Hispanic-serving” institution in San Antonio — I worked as a political advisor and scheduler for former United States President Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, which helped me land a full-time position in his administration. In that role, I got to travel the entire world and experience many different cultures. While incredibly rewarding, it was pretty exhausting. So I took an intentional pause and spent time living in a meditation ashram in upstate New York, where I learned the art of yoga and mindfulness. From there, I entered the nonprofit world and focused on campaign finance reform. Through this work, I met my lifelong sponsor — a long-time Googler who encouraged me to apply to a position here. And now, here I am, six years later.

A young Monica smiling at the camera. She is wearing a white collared shirt and posing for her 3rd grade photo.

Monica in 3rd grade.

Outside of your core role, you are a leader in the Hispanic community at Google, specifically working with Latino leaders. Can you tell us about that?

I helped create Google’s first Latinx Leadership Council, to show that “if you can see it, you can be it.” We work to promote visibility and encourage our Latino leaders to advocate for the inclusion, advancement, and representation of Hispanic and Latino Googlers across the globe. This past year, I launched mentorship and sponsorship programs to elevate emerging Latinx leaders, including helping them prepare for promotion and look for stretch opportunities. So far, we have supported 80 emerging leaders. It’s early days, but we are really proud of the progress we have made.

Monica and five others on stage under a “Latinas at Google” sign. They are smiling at the camera and holding bouquets of colorful flowers.

Monica, Second from left, at the [email protected] summit 2019 with the steering committee.

What are you doing to celebrate Hispanic culture this month?

I am trying to slow down more. One of the things I appreciate most about my Mexican heritage is that before you get any work done, you talk to people, you sit down, you understand and ask questions about loved ones. You make a connection. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I am reminding myself of this and prioritizing human connection in my day-to-day interactions.

Monica and her three family members are smiling at the camera outside on a sunny day. Monica and her husband are both wearing sunglasses.

Monica and her family on a hike.

Any tips for other aspiring Googlers?

Seek out great sponsors — people who will advocate for you and help you see opportunities. And when someone takes a chance on you, pay it forward. Someone who saw my value and understood how that would benefit the tech sector referred me to Google. Now, I dedicate time to supporting others who, like myself, may have grown up in a small town in Texas, and might feel that a company like Google is a bridge too far. As you move forward, continue to build a network of champions to help you solve problems and navigate the inevitable bumps in your career.

And, always remember to breathe.

Growing Cloud in the Middle East with Dina Amin

Welcome to the latest 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 Dina Amin, the Head Of Cloud Marketing for the Middle East,Turkey and Africa. Dina is based out of our Dubai office, and has spent the past 15 years in the city after falling in love with it during a three-month stay. The Middle East is not only deeply rooted in her present but also in Dina’s past, growing up between the U.K., Jordan and Iraq. 

How would you describe your role at Google?

From a day-to-day perspective, my team and I are responsible for generating awareness of Google Cloud and Google Workspace products among existing and new customers. Our products help companies with their digital transformation ambitions so this is a particularly interesting challenge during a time when many companies are transitioning online! 

As part of my role, I have also been fortunate to be on the team responsible for some of the largest and most exciting geographic expansion projects that we are working on in Google Cloud.

What else are you involved with at Google outside of your core role?

I’m very involved with (and previously led) the [email protected] Chapter in the Middle East and North Africa. This role is one that I was very proud to hold because of the opportunity to help drive positive change in the company and our communities.

Outside of work, one of my favorite interests is being out at sea. My most recent adventure was getting my skipper license last year. Another way I make sure to get out to sea regularly is through wakesurfing, which Dubai’s weather makes possible all year round.

Dina on a Google bike outdoors.

What inspires you to log in every day?

I’m inspired by the  feeling of delivering moments for our sales team to connect with their customers. These moments truly bring the whole team together in a bonding experience.

One of my favorite and most powerful examples of this is Cloud Day, which is a one-day immersive event where Google Cloud executives, partners and customers share how the cloud is transforming business and improving the lives of people around the world. My team was able to deliver this format in two main hubs — Dubai and Istanbul, where more than 2,000 people joined us both in-person and digitally. Given we are a small team, it was a huge mission for us to achieve, and we are so proud to have done it!

What made you decide to apply to Google?

At the time, I was completing my masters in business and had heard that a guest speaker from Google was coming for a talk on campus. I was interested in learning more about the company and different opportunities, so I decided to attend. I showed up early to the talk, and saw that the speaker, who turned out to be the Managing Director of Google in the Middle East and North Africa, needed some help setting up. We  started talking, and I quickly realized how exciting this line of work sounded. The guest speaker encouraged me to apply, and I really got inspired after the talk so I decided Google could be a good fit for me.  

Almost six years later and two different job paths at Google, I definitely feel I made the right choice joining that talk and applying to Google. It truly shows you that you never know where any opportunity may lie.

Dina in a Noogler hat indoors.

What resources did you use to prepare for your interview?

I used a lot of different resources when preparing for my interview, but I think there are three that were the most useful. The first was reaching out to Googlers and meeting them to learn more about their experiences. This helped me understand more about the company and the Googlers, in their usual fashion, were very open to help! 

The second was utilizing my business school’s career counseling services. It’s a service that may be undervalued, but it makes all the difference to get guidance from counselors who have witnessed a variety of different career paths. 

The final resource was prepping with common interview questions to get more comfortable with these types of questions. Here’s a list of best practices, advice, and tips for interviewing at Google.

Any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

Always keep in mind that a career path does not have to be linear. Each person has their own path to take that may have twists and turns. The key is to stick with it and keep searching for the path that sparks passion within you.

I was a computer science major, but I’ve experienced sales, marketing, operations, technology and strategy jobs while traveling or living in at least 15 countries. I loved these experiences as they helped me become a lot more comfortable and confident in knowing myself as a professional and knowing what I bring to the table.

Why coming to Google was a package deal for Belle Sun

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about 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 Belle Sun, one of the Googlers behind the packaging design for Google products. Belle deep dives into her role and shares how her career has taken her from Shanghai to the U.S. and from working on baby products to high tech.

What’s your role at Google?

As a Packaging Engineering Program Manager I facilitate Google consumer products packaging design — from engineering to manufacturing. We design packaging that not only protects the product, but also provides the best experience for people as packaging is the first interaction our customers have with a product. No matter how challenging the development phase is, nothing beats the sense of achievement when I see our products packaged on the shelf.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I first check my emails and sort out the priority level. I then set up meetings to share project status, analyze risks and impact due to the changes requested — changes can be everything from adding a warning label to packages to adding additional screws so people can secure something like the Nest Cam onto their walls. Besides my daily work, I enjoy reading daily newsletters from the company to know what exciting things other Googlers are doing. I’m also a part of the “Dogfood” program where I test out new features and products and provide feedback.

Belle at her desk at home.

Can you tell us a bit about your move from Shanghai to the U.S.?

I grew up in Shanghai, China as an only child. I had no clue what I wanted to do, and solely focused on grades and getting into college — hoping to find a decent job in the future like many Chinese children of my generation. English was always my favorite subject. I went to the “English Corner” every week to practice and persuaded myself to be brave whenever I had an opportunity to speak with people from abroad. Fast forward to 2013, I moved to the U.S. at the age of 29. 

As an immigrant, I was at a loss. I wondered if I was ever going to do well here from life to career because I didn’t speak perfect English and it was so different from where I grew up. However, I never gave up and encouraged myself everyday that I could do it. I went from being too shy to say “hi” to a stranger to being a Googler. I learned you can do anything as long as you believe in yourself and work hard toward your goal.

Why did you decide to apply to Google?

I was working long days and nights prior to joining Google. One night my son held my arm to be with me while I was still in a meeting at a very late hour. At that point, I knew I needed to move onto something new for myself and my family. 

A friend of mine told me about a role at Google Nest. Google is known for providing a good work life balance and caring for its employees. Above all, it is a company that leads the future of technology development. So I decided to go for it.

Belle and her son posing on Halloween in front of an Android pie statue.

Belle and her son at a Googleween event.

What was your path to your current role?

When I lived in Shanghai I was a product planner —  I tracked orders and maintained on-time shipments from factories. That’s when I became interested in product development and landed a role for baby products where I first learned about project management and how products were developed from concept to manufacturing. When I first moved to the U.S. I worked at BuyBuy Baby, then I moved into the packaging industry and developed packaging for consumer products. 

What inspires you to come in (virtually) every day?

Designing and developing thoughtful packaging is exciting. Nowadays, packaging is not only used to protect the product during the transportation, but also a means to celebrate the company’s values such as sustainability and inclusiveness.
Pixel 4 box sitting on a table indoors.

Packaging Belle worked on for the Pixel 4.

What was your application experience like?

I applied for the role directly online. Before the interviews, I was concerned with answering the questions correctly. I researched on the web, consulted with others in similar roles, and learned about Google’s values. That’s when I realized that there would be no right or wrong answers. Instead, what Google valued the most was the thought process and the creative way to resolve problems.

What advice would you give your past self?

I wish I told myself to apply earlier rather than thinking things like, “Am I qualified enough to compete with others since Google is a company so many people want to join?” I should have focused on the fact that my experience matched what the role requested.

A chance encounter led this researcher to Google

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about 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 Preeti Talwai, an architecture student turned user experience researcher. Preeti shares how her initial reluctance about tech faded as she realized how many different types of roles there are in the space.


What’s your role at Google?

I work as a user experience (UX) researcher on the AI User Experience (AIUX) team in Google Research. Our team studies changes in society and science and creates product concepts in close collaboration with research scientists and UX folks across the company. 


My focus is on early-stage, foundational research that tries to unpack big questions about human behavior and needs. With early-stage work, we’re often working with technologies that aren’t built yet and may be very new to users. For example, one of my favorite projects was studying people’s personal goals for a year and helping teams understand how technology can better support those goals.

What does your typical day look like right now?

When I’m planning research, there’s a lot of collective strategizing with other teams and my UX colleagues. When I’m conducting a study, my days usually involve a number of sessions with participants. When I’m synthesizing data, it’s a lot of “heads-down” time punctuated by ongoing sharing and collaboration with my team.  And when I’m sharing the insights and working to put them into action, my days involve meetings and presentations.  

Can you tell us about your decision to apply to work at Google and your path to your current role?

I always felt a pull towards design, so I decided to study architecture in college and went on to do a design research/architectural theory degree. Honestly, I never thought I’d work in tech and was actually against that idea at first. I had a very narrow understanding of tech jobs, and I was pretty sure they weren’t for me. The first time I became interested in Google was at the end of grad school.

I accidentally walked into a networking event after a class at the business school on campus, and I heard a panelist say she worked for Google’s Real Estate and Workplace Services division. I was surprised that something relevant to architecture existed at Google, and I stuck around until the end of the event to meet her. I sent her my resume, and though a role on her team didn’t work out, my information ended up getting passed along to a UX research manager who offered me a role as a research assistant. I decided to take this year-long contract role to test-drive a tech career, and, to my own surprise, loved it. After my contract, I transferred to a full-time role on my current team. 


My path to Google has been meandering and unpredictable. I have always been drawn to understanding human stories and shaping people’s experiences, but I didn’t know the job I had been describing was called “UX research” until I graduated from college. I’ve found that my non-traditional background has opened doors to unique types of research and teams at Alphabet that I may not have otherwise known to look for.

Preeti standing in front of a large Android statue wearing a Noogler hat.

Preeti on her first day at Google.

What inspires you to come in (virtually) every day?

Being able to meet so many different types of people and tell their stories, especially when those voices are not often heard or need to be amplified. The topics I research require deep and personal conversations with our users, and I’m always amazed at how open and candid these sessions can be. I find this an inspiration, but also a privilege and a responsibility I take seriously. My most gratifying moments are when I get to share what we’ve learned back with the communities who gave us this knowledge.

What's one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself before applying? 

I would tell my past self that there’s so much more to do at a tech company like Google beyond engineering.  There are so many roles I didn’t know existed, and getting to these roles doesn’t have to be, and is often not, a formulaic process or a straight line.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

I see a lot of aspiring UXers wondering how to build a portfolio and feeling like they “need experience to get experience,” especially to come to a place like Google. One strategy that helped me is to focus less on job titles and skills as you’re building experience, and instead seek opportunities that help you hone your human-centered research lens and approach. Those opportunities might come in diverse and even surprising disciplines, and can help you get methods experience nearly identical to what you’d be getting in a typical UX internship.

Ikumi Kobayashi on taking inclusion seriously

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about 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 Ikumi Kobayashi, a Search Optimization Specialist based out of Tokyo whose search for an inclusive and accessible workplace ultimately led her to her role at Google and a newfound confidence.


Can you tell us about your decision to apply to Google? 

I have profound hearing loss in both ears and use hearing aids. I rely on lip-reading during conversations. As a person with a disability (PwD), I struggled during my job hunt in Japan because most of the companies I applied to had limited job postings for PwD, and the benefits for PwD were often unequal compared to people without a disability. 


I decided to apply to Google because I wanted to work in a company that takes diversity and inclusion seriously. I was nervous before applying to Google because teamwork can be difficult for a hard-of-hearing person like me, but I decided to give it a try because I had nothing to lose.


How would you describe your path to your current role at Google? 

I studied communications in undergrad and joined Google right out of grad school, so Google is the first company I’ve worked at. I was an intern my first year at Google, and during that time my team supported me to overcome anxiety and build confidence as a Googler with a hearing disability. 


I started as a Google Ads Account Manager, but I found face-to-face conversations with many clients everyday difficult and I preferred working more with the product and with my teammates. After three months, I moved to my current team. My job title is now Search Optimization Specialist and my responsibility is to support Japanese companies in the entertainment industry as they run and optimize their Google Search Ads. It is very rewarding to see the companies I support grow and I am really thankful for the previous and current team who accommodated flexibly for me.

Ten people gathered around a table inside of a restaurant.

Ikumi and teammates out at dinner in 2019.

What does your typical day look like right now? 

After our Google Tokyo office completely shut down in March 2020, I have been working remotely in my apartment in Tokyo. I really miss meeting my teammates and friends in the office, but I keep myself energized by proactively setting up meetings as much as possible. Conversations with Googlers always help me to maximize my productivity. Outside of work, I'm a fashion enthusiast and go to a fashion design school three times a week after work. I love to watch fashion shows on YouTube during my free time.


What inspires you to come in (or log on) every day?

I am passionate about advocating for diversity, inclusion and accessibility so I joined the Disability Alliance — an employee resource group for Googlers. Right now, I am the only Japanese hard-of-hearing Googler on the Google Ads team and we can do more to diversify the Asia-Pacific Google community. I strive to do my best to make our community even more accessible for Googlers with disabilities.

Ikumi speaking into a microphone in front of a large group. A slide is projected behind her introducing herself.

What's one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself before applying? 

I would love to tell my past self (and anyone else with a disability who is considering applying to Google) that Google will not let you down because of your disability. I was once a very unconfident person because I was always left behind during conversations and felt helpless. Google’s mission statement is to make the world's information universally accessible and useful, and that applies to the workplace as well. 


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

Before applying to Google as a grad student, I had little work experience so I spent lots of time revisiting my past challenges and thinking through how I tried to overcome them. Leadership doesn't only mean leading a group. If you have an experience challenging yourself to achieve a goal, that is also a leadership skill. My advice is to go to the interview fully prepared to share your strengths.


Do you have any other tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

Be confident and embrace your uniqueness. Also, don't be afraid to share any accommodation needs during the application process. Bring all of yourself to the interview and tell us how amazing you are! 

Ikumi Kobayashi on taking inclusion seriously

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about 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 Ikumi Kobayashi, a Search Optimization Specialist based out of Tokyo whose search for an inclusive and accessible workplace ultimately led her to her role at Google and a newfound confidence.


Can you tell us about your decision to apply to Google? 

I have profound hearing loss in both ears and use hearing aids. I rely on lip-reading during conversations. As a person with a disability (PwD), I struggled during my job hunt in Japan because most of the companies I applied to had limited job postings for PwD, and the benefits for PwD were often unequal compared to people without a disability. 


I decided to apply to Google because I wanted to work in a company that takes diversity and inclusion seriously. I was nervous before applying to Google because teamwork can be difficult for a hard-of-hearing person like me, but I decided to give it a try because I had nothing to lose.


How would you describe your path to your current role at Google? 

I studied communications in undergrad and joined Google right out of grad school, so Google is the first company I’ve worked at. I was an intern my first year at Google, and during that time my team supported me to overcome anxiety and build confidence as a Googler with a hearing disability. 


I started as a Google Ads Account Manager, but I found face-to-face conversations with many clients everyday difficult and I preferred working more with the product and with my teammates. After three months, I moved to my current team. My job title is now Search Optimization Specialist and my responsibility is to support Japanese companies in the entertainment industry as they run and optimize their Google Search Ads. It is very rewarding to see the companies I support grow and I am really thankful for the previous and current team who accommodated flexibly for me.

Ten people gathered around a table inside of a restaurant.

Ikumi and teammates out at dinner in 2019.

What does your typical day look like right now? 

After our Google Tokyo office completely shut down in March 2020, I have been working remotely in my apartment in Tokyo. I really miss meeting my teammates and friends in the office, but I keep myself energized by proactively setting up meetings as much as possible. Conversations with Googlers always help me to maximize my productivity. Outside of work, I'm a fashion enthusiast and go to a fashion design school three times a week after work. I love to watch fashion shows on YouTube during my free time.


What inspires you to come in (or log on) every day?

I am passionate about advocating for diversity, inclusion and accessibility so I joined the Disability Alliance — an employee resource group for Googlers. Right now, I am the only Japanese hard-of-hearing Googler on the Google Ads team and we can do more to diversify the Asia-Pacific Google community. I strive to do my best to make our community even more accessible for Googlers with disabilities.

Ikumi speaking into a microphone in front of a large group. A slide is projected behind her introducing herself.

What's one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself before applying? 

I would love to tell my past self (and anyone else with a disability who is considering applying to Google) that Google will not let you down because of your disability. I was once a very unconfident person because I was always left behind during conversations and felt helpless. Google’s mission statement is to make the world's information universally accessible and useful, and that applies to the workplace as well. 


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

Before applying to Google as a grad student, I had little work experience so I spent lots of time revisiting my past challenges and thinking through how I tried to overcome them. Leadership doesn't only mean leading a group. If you have an experience challenging yourself to achieve a goal, that is also a leadership skill. My advice is to go to the interview fully prepared to share your strengths.


Do you have any other tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

Be confident and embrace your uniqueness. Also, don't be afraid to share any accommodation needs during the application process. Bring all of yourself to the interview and tell us how amazing you are!