My Path to Google: Alessandra Rao, Associate Product Marketing Manager

Welcome to the 18th 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 Alessandra Rao. Read on!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in New York City where I lived for most of my life. I went to a specialized high school, Fiorello H. LaGuardia School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where I majored in visual arts.

I always knew I wanted a career in marketing because it combined my passions: art, business, and occasional traveling. High school gave me a solid art foundation, so I chose to go to CUNY Baruch College to pursue a BBA in Marketing Management. During college, my love for traveling grew even more. I had the fortune of studying abroad in Barcelona and Paris thanks to a scholarship from Macaulay Honors College.

In my last two years of college, I co-founded a creative agency called White Cube Media that produces product videos for corporations. I loved using my creativity and business skills to help other companies succeed.

What’s your role at Google?

I’m an Associate Product Marketing Manager (APMM) on the App Developer Acquisitions team. I launch scaled campaigns to help app developers promote their app using Universal App Campaigns (UAC), a Google advertising product that uses machine learning. My team and I have built new emails, landing pages, and banner ads in 27 countries so far. We call our team ‘the little startup’ within Google because our scaled program is brand new. The marketing guidelines aren’t always black and white, but that’s where the fun lies!

What inspires you to come in every day?

What inspires me to come in every day is knowing that my work affects Google's advertising growth. I'm inspired by the feeling of running a startup within a huge international company. We have the typical challenges that startups face: We need to be smart about resources, build our online presence, and work with the product team to improve the user experience. It’s fun to tell a story with the data and use that knowledge to influence the creative and product teams.

I’m part of the APMM program, a tight-knit community of Associate Product Marketing Managers from different teams within Google The program offers so many unique opportunities. For example, I had the chance to take a marketing class where we learned from Google directors. In December, I went on a trip to Houston with four other APMMs to learn about the role of technology during Hurricane Harvey. In April, I'll be on my way to the annual APMM trip in Asia-Pacific (APAC) to learn about the local markets.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?

One day, I decided to go to a public YouTube event in NYC. I chatted with the woman behind me, and after swapping contact info, we began exchanging emails. She was so kind and inspiring.

It turns out, she works at Google and was one of the event organizers! We kept in touch for years, and she gave me great career advice. Eventually, I asked for her advice on my resume and expressed my interest in Google. "I think you should apply for the APMM program," she told me. I applied online and was contacted by a recruiter one week later. At that point, I had just graduated college.

How did the recruitment process go for you?

The recruitment process was smooth, but long. It started out with some screening questions and phone interviews. I was invited to a Google Hangout interview while I was on vacation in Miami. I set up my computer on the balcony of my hotel room. The background was the calm blue Miami ocean!

I was thrilled to get the email invite to the on-site interviews. Google flew me out to Mountain View. The night before my interview, I went to the APMM networking party and I was so nervous that I couldn't eat or drink! I remember meeting a fellow candidate who was just as nervous as I was. He was trying to figure out how to get back to the hotel, and I offered him a ride. We’ve been friends ever since!

A few weeks after the interviews, my life changed forever. It was 5pm on a cool October day when I received the much-anticipated phone call: "Alessandra, we'd like to offer you a position as an APMM at Google." I had a huge smile on my face for a long, long time.

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

I wish I'd known that waiting one month for interview results doesn't mean a bad thing! To the recruiters and hiring team, a week goes by in a flash. For someone like me who was awaiting life-changing results, each week felt like a year. Luckily, my recruiter kept me in the loop for each step in the process.

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

I read a lot of ad tech news from big online publishers. I also read Growth Hacker Marketing and How Google Works. I practiced making compelling arguments backed by numbers. When solving a problem, I’d write out each step and all assumptions to help me think out loud.

The best hands-on resource that I had to prepare for my role was starting my own business. I learned how to be resourceful and quickly adapt to customer needs. I wore many hats: account manager, designer, budget master, and more. Dealing with ambiguity was probably the greatest skill I acquired while running my business: There was rarely ever a 'right' way to do something, so I had to write the playbook on my own. A happy client was my greatest reward.

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

Create your own opportunities when things don't go as planned. You will be rejected in life many, many times, but it's only a failure if you don't learn from it. My advice is to use your talents to help others. For example, help a local business get online with Google My Business. Help a local school or nonprofit get set up with G Suite for Education. Start a socially responsible blog and track the metrics with Google Analytics. Start a YouTube Channel that teaches people how to build an app. Helping others not only creates a sense of purpose, but it is a great addition to your resume with metrics to back it up.

We have something here called Googleyness. It's not always clearly defined, but for me, it centers around making social impact, being well-rounded, and seeking personal growth opportunities. Googleyness is what makes Google's culture so special.