Author Archives: Social Life

My Path to Google: Frances Johnson, Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)

Welcome to the 26th 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 Frances Johnson. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, and studied at the University of Adelaide. Originally I enrolled in a bachelor of mechatronic engineering program, but after doing an introductory programming course, I added computer science to make it a double degree.

A year before I graduated I did an internship at Google, and it was amazing. I managed to get a full-time offer, so I moved permanently to Sydney after finishing my degrees.

I like playing Pokémon, Tetris, and board games, as well as watching and reading sci-fi, fantasy, and crime dramas. I also enjoy making things, including chainmail (the metal kind, not the email kind). About a year and a half ago, I took up rock climbing to fill my exercise needs.

What’s your role at Google?
I'm a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE). For the last three years I was on the Geo SRE team, which includes a lot of different services (customer-facing like Maps, Earth, and Streetview, and backends which do things such as calculate directions and maintain all the data we have about the world). Specifically I focused on the servers behind desktop and mobile Maps, and the third-party Maps APIs.

One of my coolest projects I worked on was helping to launch the Lite mode of Maps. I've also gotten to work closely with the SRE team for Google Search and make sure our products and features work well together.

Recently I've joined the Spanner SRE team and am really excited to learn about how global-scale storage systems work.

What inspires you to come in every day?
My coworkers. I'm excited to work with so many amazingly smart, dedicated, interesting, and caring people. It's great to see what we can all solve and create together.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
I never really thought I'd be able to get a job at Google—I didn't even think I'd get an internship. Some uni friends of mine interned the previous summer and convinced me to apply. My internship happened to be with an SRE team, and it was such a great experience that I asked if I could apply for SRE full-time.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
I applied online for my internship. There was a slight delay in getting my interviews scheduled, but from there, it was mostly smooth. I remember anxiously waiting to hear about my application, but my recruiter had just gotten back from visiting family overseas. She called me right before going home for the weekend, so I wouldn't be left in suspense.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
How you approach problems you don't immediately know how to solve is really important, much more so than remembering details you can just look up later, like syntax. At Google, problems that nobody has seen before happen every day. Oh, and I wish the SRE book existed back then!

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
Cracking the Coding Interview was a really useful book that I went through. I also did a lot of algorithm study (Algorithms Unplugged, Introduction to Algorithms, and Algorithms and Data Structures: The Basic Toolbox). But probably the most helpful thing was convincing my friends to mock interview me a lot.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Impostor syndrome is extremely real, especially at Google. It's easy to think you'll never make it through the interviews, but don't let it stop you from being confident and doing your best.

*Interested in a Site Reliability Engineer role? Apply now, and learn more at Google's SRE site.

My Path to Google: Alex Grant, Partner Operations Manager for Google my Business

Welcome to the 25th 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 Alex Grant. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was in the first Information Engineering cohort at West Point and focused on using cognitive psychology and human-computer interaction to create solutions with technology. After five years in the Army I knew I wanted to work in tech. I started at Google in 2015, and now live in Washington and work in the Kirkland office.

What’s your role at Google?
I’m a Partner Operations Manager for Google My Business, which means I supervise the support we offer to agency customers and contribute ideas for improving the product. The leadership skills I developed in the military are vital in my day-to-day work coordinating teams across two cities.

You recently returned to Savannah to help out at a Grow with Google event. What was that experience like?
Yes, I was stationed in Savannah as a transportation officer for five years during my military service.

Helping the Savannah community through the Grow With Google program was so inspiring and gratifying. It’s a dream opportunity and what I care about most. I was so happy to see the growing community of small business owners that will help introduce Savannah to the rest of the world. Working with veterans was particularly satisfying; I devote some of my personal time to aiding transitioning vets, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to support them with Grow with Google.

It’s often assumed that people looking for jobs have the skills needed to navigate the process. Grow with Google invites people to learn the most important skills, gets them started with resources, and gets them used to engaging with people in tech communities. Every time we have an event, someone who thought that tech wasn’t for them might change their perception of what they can do.

What inspires you to come in every day?
When veterans leave the military, one of the big losses they face is the sense of camaraderie that comes with that community. When I started at Google, I got some of that back. I feel like I’m part of something positive and my coworkers make every day count. They are really the difference between Google and everywhere else. There’s a huge amount of pride that comes from people of this caliber relying on you to lead.

How did you decide to apply?
The truth is that there wasn’t a clear pathway to Google when I left the military. I had offers from conventional companies but didn’t want to work in the energy or defense industries. Military recruitment firms typically try to hire officers into supervisor and manufacturing jobs, so at the time I really had to invent a new path.

At first I worked in fulfillment at Amazon and tried to make my way to headquarters. There wasn’t an opportunity to grow so I transferred to a startup and gave myself a deadline — I would either get a job at Google or move back home and supervise a warehouse. I got in touch with recruiters at Google and was connected to Courtney, who was actively reaching out to veterans. She helped me find the right role to apply to and introduced me to Monica, the recruiter who ultimately offered me my job. It was a long journey for me and now I’m passionate about helping others in my position find their way here.

How did you prepare for your interviews?
I was extremely prepared when I finally went in for interviews. A few steps I took to get ready:

  1. I referenced a lot of job descriptions and did informational interviews to learn what my resume should look like and how my military experience could translate in the civilian world.
  2. I prepped for and attended career conferences to practice interviewing, build confidence, and compare offers. During these conferences, I practiced telling my most powerful stories from my Army service.
  3. I read about Google’s culture and hiring practices in Eric Schmidt’s book, “How Google Works” and another called “I’m Feeling Lucky.” Reading about Google helped me create context with my interviewers and show that I was very familiar with Google’s culture. Today, there is a newer book called “Work Rules” that has great content about hiring.

What’s your advice to others applying to Google?
My greatest dream is that someone who is in the same position I was five years ago will read this and use these resources to find a job. When I was getting ready I looked around for anecdotes but they were hard to find. Here are my tips:

  • After you figure out what job you want, take time to learn about similar and related jobs, including lower-level positions that may feed into that specific role.
  • Promote yourself. In the military we are used to giving credit and celebrating success as a team, but it is critically important for you to share your specific impact on the team’s success.
  • Be data-driven. Show results on your resume or cover letter by using real data to show impact, whenever possible.
  • Network! Use all of the help that you can find in your local or alumni network, both for informational interviews, and referrals where appropriate.

Grow with Google offers free tools, trainings and events to help people grow their skills, careers, and businesses.

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 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 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.

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!

Black History Month Pay It Forward Challenge: Recognizing students making a difference

In honor of Black History Month, Google hosts its annual Pay It Forward Challenge as a way to recognize individuals who are making a positive impact in their communities. The variety of submissions we received this year serves as a reminder that there are so many ways in which students can “pay it forward!” We’re excited to share the work of the students below, and hope that you feel inspired by the different ways in which students across the U.S. are expanding access and opportunities for their local communities!

Digital Initiatives
Individuals are increasingly moving to digital initiatives in order to make a positive impact and reach a large audience. Check out how these students are navigating the digital space in order to ignite change in their communities.

Tim Salau

Tim Salau is a current Master’s student in his final year at the University of Texas at Austin studying Information Studies. He is a former Google design intern and creator of the Mentors & Mentees community, an international community centered on career mentorship and personal development. They’ve held webinar and workshops around topics like leadership, how to effectively use LinkedIn, and networking!

Jehron Petty

Jehron Petty, a sophomore at Cornell University, is the co-creator of Minority Wealth Management, a YouTube series which seeks to raise awareness of wealth creation and preservation in the minority community through educational videos and social commentary.

Defining Your Community
There is no one correct definition of “community.” From Ghana to Mississippi, these students scaled their initiatives in order to impact the communities that they felt closest to.

Cynoc Bediako

Cynoc is sophomore at Cornell University studying Computer Science. He was born and raised in Ghana, and he has a passion to make Africa a better place through computer science and technology. As such, earlier this year he organized a hackathon in Kumasi Ghana called “Ghana Hacks.” The program sought to give science students a window into the world of computer science and its vast potential for development in this era of technology.

Aisha Saffold

Aisha Saffold is a native of Lexington, Mississippi, attending Jackson State University. She founded P.E.A.R.L.S. in order to empower young women in Holmes, Rankin, Hinds, Leflore, and the Grenada Counties in Mississippi (close to home). The P.E.A.R.L.S. Leadership Academy, Poise and Etiquette Training, and Get Fit with P.E.A.R.L.S. programs are all examples of ways in which Aisha seeks to mold young girls into role models and powerful women who achieve their own hopes and dreams.

University Initiatives
Busy college students can find ways to impact their local communities by engaging in initiatives with their universities.

Pearis Bellamy

Pearis Bellamy is a senior Psychology major and Leadership Studies minor at Hampton University. She founded the Black College Business Woman Connection as an effort to promote entrepreneurship and community among women. Participants leave the events not only informed and empowered, but with a tribe of women ready to support them!

Taylor Montgomery

Taylor Montgomery is a junior Physics major at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and only the second African-American young woman to be the Team Lead for the Fisk University Rocket Team. With the Rocket Team, Taylor volunteers to educate underrepresented minority students in the Nashville Metro Public Schools by engaging them in rocketry, robotics, and STEM activities.

Google Initiatives
There are several ways in which you can leverage Google’s programs and resources in order to positively impact your communities!

Koko Lawson

Koko Lawson is pursuing a MBA at Emporia State University. She is a Community Impact Lead for Google Fiber in Kansas City, Missouri, where she works to close the digital divide in the area by providing community organizations with tools and resources to improve the digital literacy of Kansas City.

Thanks to all of the amazing students who submitted entries to this year’s Pay it Forward Challenge! For even more inspiration of ways you can pay it forward, check out this year’s features below:
Taylor Mathis
Jordan Williams
Breonna July
Victor Hunt
Chanice Lee
Olamide Olowe and Rechelle Dennis
Diana Wilson
Kristopher Alford
Kirstyn McLeod and Lyndsay Hamilton
Noah Mcqueen
Amanda Lawson

Keep up with us on social (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, G+) to hear more about our initiatives!

My Path to Google: Anjali Khetan, Software Engineer (Google Maps)

Welcome to the 21st 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 Anjali Khetan. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Stamford, CT, before attending college at the University of Pennsylvania. I spent the first two years studying Chemical Engineering, but after Intro to Computer Science (CS), my heart was forever changed, and I transferred to Computer Science!

What’s your role at Google?
I am a Software Engineer (SWE) on Google Maps. My team works on getting live events on the map all over the world! I love our team, because we strive to organize event data and understand how it relates to maps, places, people, and navigation. This means our work fits in with Google’s overall mission, but it also brings delight to users through fun features like drawing rainbow routes for Pride and other events, and showing them cool things to do in their area.

What inspires you to come in every day?
The people! I love our product and the projects we work on, but my colleagues are far and away the best part—I have never worked with or met such an inspiring and fun group of people.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
This was my third time applying. It's always worth the energy and effort to chase your dreams, but definitely not a smooth road :D. I joined Google right after college.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
I was contacted after being rejected for an internship. Although I had applied for the SWE New Graduate role, the recruiter felt that I would be a great match for the Engineering Residency program, so we went forward with that.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
That showing an interviewer *how* you solve a problem is just as valuable as what your solution is.

Can you tell us more about the resources you used to prep?

I used “Cracking the Coding Interview,” HackerRank, and mock interviews with friends.

To finish, do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
When you love something, the work is easy!

Want to learn more about the Engineering Residency? Watch our video, or head over to Ready to apply to the residency? We're currently accepting applications at

My Path to Google: William Edward Bailey, III, Software Engineer (and CSSI alum)

Welcome to the 20th 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 William Edward Bailey, III. He participated in the CSSI class of 2012 and now works at Google. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! I am William Edward Bailey, III, or WEB3 for short (yes, I chose the right career for my name). I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in a small town outside the city called Douglasville. In 2012, I traveled up the East Coast to study in New Haven, Connecticut, at Yale University. I graduated class of 2016, with a combined Bachelor and Master of Computer Science. I now work as a Software Engineer (SWE) at Google under the Search Infrastructure division.

As for hobbies, I enjoy playing video games (Legend of Zelda and Smash Bros), hiking, and talking with friends. I like superhero movies (Marvel) and cheering my favorite sports team (Go Falcons!). Recently, I've become a fan of travelling and taking pictures of my various journeys across the country.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 12. Christianity has been a large part of my life since.

What’s your role at Google?
I have worked on a few projects here at Google. In 2013, I interned with the Engineering Practicum (EP) program and worked under AdSpam Engineering Productivity. My manager was developing a release script to automate the process of pushing our binary to production. I wrote some unit tests to ensure the correctness of the tool and then developed a fault injection tool that could simulate several errors and prove an additional level of correctness.

In 2014, I interned as a general SWE intern under the Access and Energy division. I worked on a team that was developing cloud-managed wifi routers. My task was to integrate this service with another product at Google. I worked as a full stack engineer developing the code to request data from the backend, pipe the data through our server, and display the data in our frontend.

I currently work as a Software Engineer on the Search UI Infrastructure team in Mountain View, CA. Our team is responsible for maintaining the Google Web Server (GWS for short). GWS is responsible for processing search requests that come into Google. When we get a request, GWS contacts our backends to retrieve relevant search results, renders the results into an html page, and returns the response to our users. My team focuses on the infrastructure of the server ensuring that latency is low and it is easier for developers to build upon the platform.

One thing that I like most about Google is the breadth of projects. There's something here for almost everyone. If you like Operating Systems, you can work on the Android OS. If you like frontend work, you can develop UIs for our desktop and mobile applications. You can work on web browsers (Chrome), iOS apps, or Android apps. You can work on large, established code bases like Search or newer teams like Assistant. In many ways, it can feel like working at a different company all within Google.

What inspires you to come in every day?
Projects and people are the two words that would describe why I like working at Google.

Within Search, I work on a code base that is massive in scale (~19 years in the making) and continually evolving. The improvements made can affect the lives of billions of our users. Google gives software engineers autonomy of execution and the opportunity to work on meaningful projects. Engineers are empowered to develop ownership over portions of code, spec out design docs, and plan how they execute to accomplish their goals. For example, my team has been working on improving a part of the html rendering system, so that we can decrease CPU cost for rendering and reduce latency for our end users.

Teams here at Google are collaborative and organized around solving problems. My manager and several other members of the team have been extremely supportive, particularly as I was starting out. Whether it was debugging issues together, volunteering to help out with portions of a project I was leading, or explaining the history behind our code base, I have been helped greatly by my peers. My team members are friendly, knowledgeable of the system, and have a passion for coding. All of which makes the team a great environment to work in.

Lastly, I enjoy performing various outreach programs in my 20% time. I have been working with a university specialist to perform Google recruiting back at my Alma Mater. I've been able to go back three times thus far! I enjoy getting a chance to meet students and share my experiences (I'd be happy to chat if you are a student reading this post :). As an alumni of CSSI, I have enjoyed TA-ing the program and meeting the next generation of CSSI-ers (you may see me if you attend the Mountain View session). As a former intern, I have volunteered with the intern program by mentoring a few interns last summer. I enjoy forming personal connections and am glad that Google has provided a space for me to pursue these opportunities.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
For most of my life, computer science wasn't on my radar. My dad worked in a security and information management role, so I was well-versed in computers from an early age. However, I enjoyed writing, debating, and public speaking. All throughout high school, my plan was to major in business in college and then go on to law school. During my senior year, I needed a fine arts requirement. I could not take music theory at the time since I didn't know how to read music. However, the Christian private school I was attending counted Computer Science as a fine arts. I took the course and fell in love with the subject. After I got accepted to Yale, I decided to switch my major to Computer Science.

During the summer before college started, I participated in CSSI in Mountain View. It was my first time visiting California and my first exposure to life at Google. Throughout the three-week program, I learned about python and web development. For the last week, I worked on a team to build a calendar web app and presented it to a group of Google engineers.

The program was extremely influential in my career path in three ways. First, it gave me a better sense of how vast Computer Science is. It can be applied to numerous disciplines, from economics to political science to traditional consumer apps. Seeing what Computer Science could be like helped keep me motivated through classes I didn't like as much. Second, it sparked in me a desire to work at Google. Seeing all the free food and engineers made me want to come back next summer for an internship. Third, it gave me greater confidence that I wanted to pursue Computer Science as a major. Because of this, I decided to take several CS courses my freshman year. CSSI gave me greater confidence that I could handle these courses well.

I hope these stories encourage those reading this post who are new to Computer Science, nervous about entering college, or possibly intimidated by peers who have more experience. In my case, the vast majority of my CS experience came in college. Now is the perfect time for you to begin! Focus on doing your best and working hard to develop the foundation and core skills. Opportunities will come in time.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
Through CSSI, I was encouraged to apply for the Engineering Practicum program for my freshman summer. I got into the program and worked under Engineering Productivity for AdSpam. I received a return offer for sophomore summer to work as a general SWE intern in the Access and Energy Division. For my junior summer, I interned at a different company. I re-joined Google full time after my senior year.

In my case, much of the recruiting process for my full-time position occurred during the internships. Since I worked at Google for two summers, I was able to show my ability to work as a Google engineer. CSSI was extremely helpful in building connections at Google and gaining an idea of what skills I should cultivate in school.

I will share this fun story about how I joined my current team. During the internship of my freshman summer, I attended a Bible study at Google (Google has many different extracurricular activities similar to college). Two of the Googlers who attended were going to be working in a new division at Google. One of the guys told me that he would be interested in having me as an intern if I ever came back. When I returned sophomore summer for my second internship, I joined their team and worked under Access and Energy. After I left, my intern host left the team and came to work under Search Infrastructure. When I applied for a full time position, I initially elected to return to my former team under Access and Energy. My former intern host reached out to me and asked whether I wanted to join him in Search. I agreed and have been working under Search since I came on full time. Although I didn't realize it at the time, my path to Google Search began during my freshman summer!

I like this story because it highlights a lot of what I love about the people here at Google. They look out for each other and are eager to provide opportunities for growth, especially to those who are young and starting out their careers.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
Through CSSI and internships, I was fortunate to have been coached through the process early on. Hence, I didn't have too many major bumps in the recruiting process. However, I can talk about lessons I learned more broadly about interviewing/recruiting.

A friend of mine said it best: Prepare for the interviews as if you were preparing for the SAT. Study. Practice. Study. Then, practice again. Keep working through problems until you are familiar with the general questions that may be asked and have an idea of good strategies for tackling problems. When solving the problems, practice writing solutions on a whiteboard (chalkboards were my favorite alternative). Make sure you plan out your solution before coding. Spend some time explaining your solution, thinking of edge cases, and then write the code. Make sure to test the solution afterwards. Most of all, don't forget to talk to the interviewer! Speak out loud so the interviewer knows what you are thinking and how you are approaching the problem.

Getting people to refer you can help tremendously. Google gets a lot of applicants, so getting a referral helps set your application apart (but you don’t need a referral). If you know someone who can speak to your skills, have them refer you. Also, don't be shy about contacting recruiters to ask about the status of your application.

Side projects are helpful, particularly if you can publish your code on GitHub. It helps to have working examples to show how well you can code. However, don't be too concerned if you don't have time for side projects or hackathons. As I loved to say in school, classes were my hackathons; I spent most of my programming efforts on courses. If you can choose challenging courses that have extensive projects and can get internship experience over the summer, that can help you develop the skills you need.

Lastly, apply early. The recruiting season starts in August/September (depending on region).

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
Cracking the Coding Interview and the Programming Interview Exposed are two good books for interviewing. In applying to various places, I've seen some of the questions in those books asked.

I also want to stress the importance of classes. They are extremely valuable in teaching you how to code and in learning the fundamentals of Computer Science. Don't skimp on those. I will use an analogy. When you first start off your college career, you are attempting to build a house. Your introductory and intermediate courses are the foundation of that house. You want to make sure that you master the fundamentals and have a strong foundation. If not, your house will be shaky when you build upon it later. Make sure you have the time not just to complete your assignments, but to do well in them. Make sure you understand the concepts in class. Most of all, read your books. Yes, read the textbooks. Don't listen to anyone who would tell you otherwise. Doing the readings was extremely helpful for me in mastering the material that was taught. This is particularly true for history courses, but that would be for another blog post... :)

After you have mastered the fundamentals, consider taking harder courses like Operating Systems, Computer Networks, Compilers, or Databases. Even if you don't plan on working in these areas long-term, it is good to have a breadth of knowledge and to understand systems that you use. If you can handle the math, theoretical courses are a good way to further expand your knowledge.

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

  • Apply to CSSI. It is an amazing program!
  • Master the fundamentals. Ensure you have enough time to excel in your CS courses.
  • Seek support and guidance. Talk with your advisers. Forge relationships with professors.
  • Apply early and get referrals if you can.
I'll end with two pieces of encouragement:

First, there may be many of you about to head off to college far away from home. For myself, I traveled from Georgia to Connecticut and then to California. I was very homesick in the midst of adjusting to new environments, regions, and cultures. As time went on, I became more settled, knew what I was doing and where all the buildings were, and began to build deeper friendships with people. After four years of college, I was sad to say goodbye and leave a place I had come to call home. Know that it will take time for you to get adjusted to college. Be encouraged even during times when things may be difficult.

Lastly, take time to enjoy the journey. Don't be in such a rush to land a job that you miss the incredible opportunity you have in front of you. College is an excellent time to learn new things and meet new people. Yes, work hard. But, also have time to enjoy the resources available at your college and get to know your fellow classmates. Don't worry: Those four years will pass by quickly and you'll be an alumni like me wondering where the time went. While you are there, make the most of it.

Best of luck and enjoy the journey! Perhaps, we'll get a chance to meet one day at Google.

Interested in CSSI? Head to the CSSI site to learn more and apply today!