Welcome to the 44th 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 Beyza Bozbey. Read on!
Editor’s note: Beyza speaks about her experience participating in Google’s longest running coding competition, Code Jam. The 2020 online qualification round is happening this Friday, April 3. If you would like to register, you can do so at g.co/codejam.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. In high school, I participated in a special program that prepared a small number of students for the Informatics Olympiad computer science competition. I was the only woman in the program from my high school. When I learned programming and algorithms, I discovered my passion for Computer Science. After I finished two years of college in Istanbul, I transferred to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where I studied Computer Science. During college, I participated in robotics and fashion clubs and did an internship at a fashion tech startup company which was a great experience for me to combine my programming skills with my interest in fashion.
Outside of work, I love traveling, following fashion trends, and watching movies and TV shows — especially supernatural ones. I'm a huge Marvel fan and I once camped out to get into a panel at San Diego Comic-Con.
What’s your role at Google?
I'm a Software Engineer on the YouTube Comments team. I've been working on the backend side of a new project about the comments section. What I love the most about it is that everyday is a challenge and it never gets boring. When I create a new feature or fix a bug, it is truly amazing to see that the impact reaches thousands of users around the globe. This is absolutely what makes me get out of bed every morning. Also, Google has an incredible amount of resources, therefore learning at Google is a never ending journey.
You’ve participated in a few Google coding competitions, can you tell us more about that?
I’ve participated in both Google Code Jam (Google’s longest running coding competitions for individuals) and Hash Code (Google’s team coding competition). I didn’t realize it at the time, but the types of questions I really enjoyed during the Informatics Olympiad competition were very similar to Google coding competition questions. My first Google competition was Hash Code — when I heard about it, I was so excited. I found two friends from college and convinced them to join. While the problems were a little advanced for our level, it was fun to work together and brainstorm in order to solve the questions.
Code Jam registration is open now — any advice to those thinking about getting involved?
Definitely sign up! You don’t have to know everything about coding competitions already. The UI is simple and it’s also really fun to see other people solving a question. When I see that others have solved a question, I think, “if they solved it, I can solve it too!” It’s encouraging.
Has participating in Google's Coding Competitions affected your path to becoming an engineer at Google?
Yes! I started to realize that I was developing a lot of great skills while doing the coding competitions. Code Jam was a similar practice and environment to a coding interview, making it fun and useful at the same time!
Can you tell us about your decision to enter the Google application process?
After I learned programming in high school, I wanted to learn more about how Google Search works. As a high school student in Turkey, working at Google was like an impossible dream for me. Then I heard that someone who graduated from my high school started working at Google and that inspired me. I realized that it was an attainable goal, so I decided to apply. However, my application wasn't accepted and I couldn't get an interview. One year after my internship application got rejected, a recruiter contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in interviewing for another internship. I was super excited and nervous, but during that time, I was trying to adapt to moving to a new country (the USA) and transferring to a new school (USC), and unfortunately, I couldn't pass the interviews. Fast forward two years and two more attempts at interviewing and I got a full-time offer. Do not give up if you don't get it your first (or second or third) try!
What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
I wish I had known Google's interview process better before my first interview. I remember that I was so nervous that I couldn't even understand the question. I should have asked some clarifying questions and talked about my thought process.
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
LeetCode was super helpful, but sometimes it makes you lazy to check edge cases. You can submit your solution with just one click and if it fails, it's so easy to find out which edge case caused the failure since the website shows you the input already. However, in a real interview, you walk through your solution by hand. You have to find the edge cases on your own and which input might break your solution. Therefore, I highly suggest aspiring Googlers code on a piece of paper and practice walking through your solution by hand. You can also pair with a friend and practice interviewing ... and sign up for Google's coding competitions!