Tag Archives: My Path to Google

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.

Finding the intersection of social justice and tech

Welcome to the latest installment of our 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 Xiomara Contreras (pictured above with her mother), a product marketing manager in our San Francisco office. Xiomara’s passion for social impact is deeply rooted in her work, both in her core role of supporting small businesses and in building community for underrepresented groups both in and out of Google.


How would you describe your role at Google?


I’m a product marketing manager working on Google My Business. Specifically, my team is dedicated to supporting small-business owners. Google My Business is a free tool that allows users to promote their Business Profile on Google Search and Maps, allowing them to respond to reviews, post photos of products or special offers and add or edit their business details so they can connect with customers.


My role focuses on core product marketing, meaning I work with product managers and engineers to determine who our users are, what they need and how to align our product with those needs. As a product marketing manager, I show the value of our product to small business owners. Additionally, I recently contributed to the creation and launch of the Black-owned business attribute to support Black-owned businesses.


What made you decide to apply to Google?


When I initially started thinking about a career, I thought I would be in the nonprofit sector because most of my previous experience was in that space. Also, I studied Communication Studies and Latina/o Studies at Northwestern and I wasn’t aware of the breadth of opportunities available to “non-technical” students in tech. 


Then I learned about Google'sBOLD Internship Program through Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), an organization that prepares and connects university students from underrepresented backgrounds to internships and full-time careers. Through the support and encouragement of the organization, I applied to the internship. Once I was an intern at Google I was able to see how my passion for social justice issues, education and youth mentorship intersect with tech, and I knew I wanted to work at Google full time.

Three people sitting around a large “G” sculpture.

Xiomara and fellow Googlers/MLT alums, Janice and Olivia, representing Google at the Management Leadership for Tomorrow 15th Anniversary Celebration in 2019.

Can you expand more on that intersection?


Google has exposed me to different mentorship programs both inside and outside of the company. I volunteered for TutorMate and Spark, and I currently volunteer for iMentor, a three-year commitment to empower first-generation students from low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college and achieve their ambitions. I only learned about these opportunities through other Googlers. 


I’m also involved in increasing racial equity at Google through our Black and Latinx Marketers (BALM) employee resource group. This group is designed to help make Google a place where people like me can see themselves, be successful and feel fulfilled. Last year I was the Global Community Lead, organizing events like a dialogue series with external speakers to discuss issues impacting our community and fun activities like learning how to make café de olla in a workshop led by a small business owner.

What inspires you to log in every day?


First, just knowing that my core work is very impactful for small-business owners. My grandma is a small-business owner, and I use Google My Business for her business. I see how the product helps her stand out online and connect with new customers. So believing in the mission of Google and the mission of my own team keeps me invested in the company. 


Second, personally, being the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and the first person in my family to go to college motivates me every day to continue to grow here because my family sacrificed a lot for me to get where I am. This way, I am able to support them too.

Three people wearing Google shirts at an indoor event.

Xiomara (middle) with Googlers, Lucy and Huyen, at an event in the Google NYC office in 2019.

What resources did you use to prepare for your interviews?


Keeping up with Think with Google and The Keyword was extremely helpful as it gave me a deeper perspective on Google’s top priorities and new products. In particular, I read the small business section in The Keyword because I was passionate about Google’s initiatives for underrepresented business owners. It also helped to browse through other companies’ blogs and social channels to learn about their programs for small business owners. 


Because I wasn’t a marketing student, I also brushed up on my Google Ads skills as well as marketing 101 basics. 


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


Your resume is your first impression. To make sure it’s at its best I encourage you to show it to a lot of people, even those outside of the company or marketing (or whatever area you’re interested in) to provide feedback. 


Also, don’t erase the other parts of you. When reviewing current students’ resumes, they often only show the things related to marketing and remove everything else. But things like student organizations, campus jobs, volunteer work and life experience all highlight how you are different and often demonstrate leadership and problem solving experiences well beyond, for example, a marketing internship.

Finding the intersection of social justice and tech

Welcome to the latest installment of our 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 Xiomara Contreras (pictured above with her mother), a product marketing manager in our San Francisco office. Xiomara’s passion for social impact is deeply rooted in her work, both in her core role of supporting small businesses and in building community for underrepresented groups both in and out of Google.


How would you describe your role at Google?


I’m a product marketing manager working on Google My Business. Specifically, my team is dedicated to supporting small-business owners. Google My Business is a free tool that allows users to promote their Business Profile on Google Search and Maps, allowing them to respond to reviews, post photos of products or special offers and add or edit their business details so they can connect with customers.


My role focuses on core product marketing, meaning I work with product managers and engineers to determine who our users are, what they need and how to align our product with those needs. As a product marketing manager, I show the value of our product to small business owners. Additionally, I recently contributed to the creation and launch of the Black-owned business attribute to support Black-owned businesses.


What made you decide to apply to Google?


When I initially started thinking about a career, I thought I would be in the nonprofit sector because most of my previous experience was in that space. Also, I studied Communication Studies and Latina/o Studies at Northwestern and I wasn’t aware of the breadth of opportunities available to “non-technical” students in tech. 


Then I learned about Google'sBOLD Internship Program through Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), an organization that prepares and connects university students from underrepresented backgrounds to internships and full-time careers. Through the support and encouragement of the organization, I applied to the internship. Once I was an intern at Google I was able to see how my passion for social justice issues, education and youth mentorship intersect with tech, and I knew I wanted to work at Google full time.

Three people sitting around a large “G” sculpture.

Xiomara and fellow Googlers/MLT alums, Janice and Olivia, representing Google at the Management Leadership for Tomorrow 15th Anniversary Celebration in 2019.

Can you expand more on that intersection?


Google has exposed me to different mentorship programs both inside and outside of the company. I volunteered for TutorMate and Spark, and I currently volunteer for iMentor, a three-year commitment to empower first-generation students from low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college and achieve their ambitions. I only learned about these opportunities through other Googlers. 


I’m also involved in increasing racial equity at Google through our Black and Latinx Marketers (BALM) employee resource group. This group is designed to help make Google a place where people like me can see themselves, be successful and feel fulfilled. Last year I was the Global Community Lead, organizing events like a dialogue series with external speakers to discuss issues impacting our community and fun activities like learning how to make café de olla in a workshop led by a small business owner.

What inspires you to log in every day?


First, just knowing that my core work is very impactful for small-business owners. My grandma is a small-business owner, and I use Google My Business for her business. I see how the product helps her stand out online and connect with new customers. So believing in the mission of Google and the mission of my own team keeps me invested in the company. 


Second, personally, being the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and the first person in my family to go to college motivates me every day to continue to grow here because my family sacrificed a lot for me to get where I am. This way, I am able to support them too.

Three people wearing Google shirts at an indoor event.

Xiomara (middle) with Googlers, Lucy and Huyen, at an event in the Google NYC office in 2019.

What resources did you use to prepare for your interviews?


Keeping up with Think with Google and The Keyword was extremely helpful as it gave me a deeper perspective on Google’s top priorities and new products. In particular, I read the small business section in The Keyword because I was passionate about Google’s initiatives for underrepresented business owners. It also helped to browse through other companies’ blogs and social channels to learn about their programs for small business owners. 


Because I wasn’t a marketing student, I also brushed up on my Google Ads skills as well as marketing 101 basics. 


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


Your resume is your first impression. To make sure it’s at its best I encourage you to show it to a lot of people, even those outside of the company or marketing (or whatever area you’re interested in) to provide feedback. 


Also, don’t erase the other parts of you. When reviewing current students’ resumes, they often only show the things related to marketing and remove everything else. But things like student organizations, campus jobs, volunteer work and life experience all highlight how you are different and often demonstrate leadership and problem solving experiences well beyond, for example, a marketing internship.

Onboarding at Google while working remotely

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 Asaf Paz, an Agency Lead on the Google Customer Solutions team, who shares what it was like to join Google while working remotely from a different country than the office he would relocate to.

What’s your role at Google?

I manage a team of very talented agency development managers. They help some of the biggest and most advanced agencies in the UK grow the businesses that they’re working with through Google Ads. 

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

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses needed to completely change their strategy to survive. Knowing that my team and I are helping thousands of businesses make this digital transformation successfully makes me feel very proud.

In addition to that, I always have a sense of anticipation for all the new things I’ll learn today — whether it's from my employees, my colleagues, managers — or the endless data and training that Google offers.  

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

I established a digital marketing agency in 2005, ran it for 11 years and sold it to establish a software-as-a-service-based startup. After four years, although my startup was profitable and growing, I didn’t see it turning into the billion-dollar company I aspired to create — so I  decided to sell it. 

Around the same time, I finished my Executive MBA and started thinking about my next step. I knew I wanted to work with talented people and on projects that would have a large-scale impact.

I called many friends and colleagues to get their thoughts. A former employee of mine who now works at Google told me about a role that matched what I was looking for. The more I learned about the role and the team, the more I fell in love with it and decided to apply.


Asaf wearing a Noogler hat while sitting in front of a computer. Around him are books, sticky notes on a wall, a mug, a plant and a painting.

Asaf at his home workspace.

How did the recruitment process go for you? 

I began the process in January 2020, just before the pandemic affected Europe, and I had the opportunity to fly to the Dublin office in February for an interview. But then I went back to a lockdown when I came back to Tel-Aviv, and continued the rest of the process remotely.

The process was very transparent and structured. But what amazed me most about it is how human it was. Andy, my recruiter, was there with me from the first call until way after the contract was signed. In fact Andy is still in contact with me, sending me personal emails and organizing a monthly call.

How have you forged new contacts and relationships while working remotely?

I was surprised by the depth of the connections I’ve established with my team and other Googlers so far. Maybe it’s the fact that we see each other's houses and families on the first call that makes us open up and talk about personal things pretty quickly. 

Google has brilliant people that are humble and fun to work with. They go above and beyond to help another Googler. What I like most about the people here is that they measure everything, learn quickly and perform better the next time.

Asaf wears a santa hat and holds up a drink to toast with teammates virtually on a computer

Since joining Google, his team has had a pizza workshop with a Michelin-starred chef, a bartender training, a gingerbread house competition and a virtual science camp for kids.

What advice would you give to someone considering the move to Google at the current time?

There are advantages to starting work remotely. I’m an office person, and I’m really looking forward to starting working with my team in the office. That said, since this new job involves relocation, it’s been easier to focus on onboarding without also needing to also figure out things like moving the family to a new country, plus adjusting to a new school and language for the kids.

Additionally, all meetings being virtual helps me learn faster by attending more meetings as a guest and seeing everything in action. 

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

The first one is to apply, I talked to so many people that told me that their dream is to join a company like Google — but when I asked them what roles they applied for, they said they actually didn’t. So it might seem obvious but my first tip is to apply.

Then, my next tip would be to treat the process with respect, prepare for the different stages, and be curious by asking as many questions as you can.


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! 

Teaching and coding led one Googler to tech writing

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 Garrett Holthaus, a tech writer who taps into his background in both computer science and teaching.

What are you working on right now at Google?

Currently, I am working on two projects in the Google Cloud Programs organization. One is writing a user guide for a new internal software tool that will help streamline cross-team planning and interaction. The other is creating an internal training curriculum for program managers. It’s been amazing to work on these two different types of educational content, written documentation and instructor-led classes, at Google’s scale.

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

The technical writing community at Google is amazingly supportive. There are ongoing discussions about everything from style to formatting to engaging with subject matter experts. If you have a question, you can be assured of a helpful answer. (Sometimes two or three answers!) Within a month of joining, I had found a mentor and was getting advice on how to navigate my role.

How did you first get interested in technology?

From an early age, I have been interested in science and technology. My parents set me on a path to computer science when they bought an early home computer — I typed in game programs from magazines and was amazed at the possibilities for different applications. My dad had a basement workshop where I helped out with different projects and took on some of my own in electronics, woodworking and mechanical restoration.

My passion for electronics and hardware led me to major in electrical engineering, where I became fascinated with computer architecture. I started out in microprocessor validation, writing assembly code and tools to exercise various parts of a CPU. As a validator, I learned to put on my “evil” hat and try to break the hardware in ways the designer hadn’t anticipated. 

And how did you then get interested in teaching?

I volunteered as a tutor in college and participated in various educational outreach opportunities during my career. One program that made a big impression was Science is Elementary, in which I visited a local elementary school with a small group of my coworkers once a month to teach a science lesson. This and other experiences led me to teaching high school physics, before later rejoining the tech industry.

Garrett standing in front of a modified Boeing 747SP airplane  with the words “Sofia Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy” along with an American and German flag.

Garrett during a summer internship as a teacher working for NASA. He’s standing in front of a Boeing 747SP airplane that was modified with a large sliding door on the rear of the fuselage that can open in flight to reveal an infrared telescope.

What made you decide to apply to Google?

I got an opportunity to write a technical article about something old and familiar — hardware! I enjoyed the experience and almost couldn’t believe I got paid for the work, which was a good sign that I was on to something. I spoke to a friend at Google who was in a technical writing role and realized that as a teacher, writing had been a central part of my job — both doing my own writing and evaluating my students’ writing. Because technical writers create content that is designed to help users, the role was a way to combine my two passions of technology and education.

How did the application and interview process go for you?

I had done many interviews before and had some idea of what to expect, but I was impressed that Google provided interview preparation resources geared towards candidates who might have little or no interview experience. Throughout the entire process, the recruiters and interviewers who worked with me were friendly, encouraging and accommodating.

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

One of the most powerful interview techniques I learned was the concept of a PSR: Problem, Solution, Result. This involves thinking of problems you have encountered in your previous jobs, your education or your life. How did you solve the problem? Having my PSRs ready helped my confidence during the interview, and I was surprised at how often the opportunity arose to bring one out.

Garrett wearing a Noogler hat. In the background are other people sitting in chairs and a person standing on a stage holding the microphone.

Garrett at Noogler (new Googler) orientation.

Why Monica Gómez left her role as a CEO to work at 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 Monica Gómez, who left a very comfortable job as CEO of one of the world’s leading media agencies to take a risk and pursue a dream of working at Google in a role that directly impacts the development of Colombia and the Central America Region.

How would you describe your role at Google? 

As a Head of Agencies, I work with outside partners and ad agencies in the region to develop business models based on the newest data and technology. I am also an activist in the search for female inclusion and empowerment in the digital industry.


Can you tell us a bit about your early studies and career? 

I grew up in a small city in Colombia, in a huge family. (I have 20 uncles!) In our country, education is a privilege, it is not a right, and that made my parents work hard to give me the opportunity to go to a university. I actually started my studies in optometry, but in the second semester I got pregnant and had to leave the university to take charge of a new life with my daughter. This both rescued me and gave me a new purpose.


I worked during the day, and at night I began my studies in marketing and advertising. My professional career started at the bottom, making phone calls, filling in database fields and doing basically what no one else wanted to do. My passion and determination were the keys to quickly scale up and become CEO of one of the world's leading media agencies.


In parallel, my daughter and I decided to start a new family — so today, my husband, my two daughters and I are indestructible.


What made you decide to apply to Google?

I attended a wedding and there, after dancing all night, a good friend who worked at Google told me about an opportunity that would open up soon at the company that she thought would be perfect for me.


My first reaction was an immediate, "No thanks. This position is not for me, it is for someone younger." It's amazing how your biases from the past come to your mind and sabotage you to the point of taking away great opportunities. At the time, in my 40s and in a comfortable place as an agency CEO, I was scared. I was happy at my job and competing with new talent in the industry to show that I was the best candidate terrified me. 


After three weeks of introspection I realized I wanted to participate in the process, and that I was ready to face my insecurities and go full energy for my dream: work at Google.


Monica smiling in front of a large Android statue.

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

My experience in the advertising ecosystem in Colombia was vital for my participation in the selection process. Knowing the advertising ecosystem and having worked in different roles in agencies and as a client made the difference.


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

I never thought that I would experience a disruption as big as COVID-19. Overnight the consumption habits of people around the world changed, and the reacting capacities of all of us in the industry were put to the test. The pandemic dramatically challenged our agility, commitment, consistency and leadership to make decisions in a context where there are no instruction manuals.


For that reason, it motivates me to encourage my partners to build strategies that accelerate the business of the brands they represent and contribute to the development of our country.


I also find happiness in helping my team achieve personal fulfillment. I’m a facilitator for I am Remarkable, where I help other women recognize and celebrate their accomplishments. It is a way to return what I have received from Google


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

You don't have to worry about explaining the reasons why you want to change jobs, or justifying your work decisions in the past.


“No salgas antes de entrar,” Do not leave before entering — great words from Adri Noreña. 

This research intern worked with teams in two countries

Research happens at Google everyday, on many different teams throughout the company. Elena Kirilenko conducted a research internship with both the Chrome team in Paris and the Compression Research team in Zurich. She shares what it was like to intern virtually with teams across multiple countries, and how her internship led to publication of her research and open-sourced code focused on making the internet a faster place.

How did you first get interested in technology?

I’m from Moscow, where I graduated from high school, got a bachelor’s degree and am now doing a master's program in applied mathematics and Informatics. Computer science was my number-one passion starting in ninth grade. Since then I’ve explored different areas of computer science including backend, data science, natural language processing and frontend. My main interests are now machine learning and software engineering, although I’m always open to learning new technologies and picking up new skills.

What was it like to intern virtually?

It was quite hard and unusual in the beginning, as you can’t walk through the office, engage in personal conversations or go to the canteen with your coworkers. At first it was harder to communicate because messaging or video conferences could not replace a real conversation. 

However, when I got to know Google's culture and became more confident with my project, this problem totally disappeared because it became clear that each person in Google is really responsive and there is no need to be afraid to ask questions. 

Moreover, there were a lot of exciting activities you could participate in online, like sports  and dance classes, virtual lunches, games and speaker series.

What project was your internship focused on? 

Efficiently delivering Web applications is a hard problem to solve. Compression technologies play a crucial part in solving that problem, by reducing the size of the resources that need to be downloaded over a network. Web Bundles enable servers to avoid sending to the browser resources it previously downloaded, by only sending to parts of the bundle the browser doesn't have.

This is where my research fit in. I was working on achieving fast and efficient compression for WebBundle subsets with Google’s Brotli, a general-purpose compression algorithm. High-quality Brotli compression creates small files, but takes a lot of time and processing power. As a result, it’s only feasible to apply to content ahead of time, as opposed to compressing resources as they’re being sent to the browser. . 

Brotli compresses content by calculating artifacts about it (an artifact is a piece of information, like how the content should be divided for optimal encoding), and storing them in the compressed file. High-quality compression invests time and resources in calculating the ideal artifacts for the content, resulting in smaller files and faster compression rates. My project reused the ideal artifacts for an overarching piece of content when compressing just a subset of the same content, achieving both time and processing benefits compared to regular dynamic Brotli compression.

What was the outcome of your internship? 

My code has been fully integrated into a branch of Brotli and is now ready to be deployed by users at Google, or anywhere else! We also published a comprehensive design doc describing the work done and result we achieved. If you want to learn more, there is ablog post explaining it at a higher level.

What key skills have you gained from your time at Google?

During my internship I’ve learned a lot of new things about compression algorithms and Web Bundles, which I knew almost nothing about before. I also got a big experience in writing in C and found out many interesting tricks and things you can do there that I didn’t know about. Besides that, I learned how to present the work you’ve done, structure the documentation and how to write blog posts which people may find interesting and useful.

Another thing I picked up is to take initiative. Once I became confident with my project I developed the intuition on what will work and what probably won't. I wasn’t afraid to share my ideas with my host and co-host or even tried to experiment with them on my own.

Any advice for potential intern candidates?

Don’t hesitate to ask. It’s totally OK if you can’t understand the technology you don’t know. People at Google are really open to help you and it’s really important to ask them for help, otherwise you may spend hours or even days trying to figure out something instead of doing some great work. I think communication is one of the most important aspects that drives Google.

Lessons from an MBA intern turned full-time Googler

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 Nikhil Nerkar, who started at Google as an MBA intern and eventually found a home and passion on the YouTube Creator and Artist Development team in Mumbai.

What’s your role at Google?

YouTube has millions of creators, and it’s a number that will keep on increasing in the coming years. As a strategic partner manager, I work directly with emerging creators to ensure that they achieve success on the platform and have a great experience. We help the creators build their channels, grow their audiences and turbocharge their reach through the platform.

Nikhil wearing a Noogler hat sitting in front of a wall made of legos.

Noogler onboarding in Singapore, April 2019.

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

I get to interact with creators from different walks of life. I connect with people ranging from regional creators to celebrities, making my day creatively fulfilling. I serve as a trusted advisor for the creators, providing them with lessons learned from their data,  ensuring they are positioned for success. 

Also, I can bring my whole self to work because Google encourages an extremely collaborative, humble and positive culture. Google creates opportunities for everyone to grow professionally as well as personally. It is empowering to work for Google because the company puts its people first. 

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

I was drawn to the focus Google puts on creating a positive and trustworthy user experience. On top of that, there was a lot of buzz on my campus about the roles offered for MBA interns, and that was all the push I needed to enter the process.

Nikhil with a group of interns outdoors.

A Team-building activity for all India interns from four locations was conducted in Hyderabad in May 2018.

How did the recruitment process go for you?

Well, there are three parts to this story.  

I had initially applied to Google as an MBA intern. The interview questions were open-ended, and I remember being on my toes throughout the entirety of the interview. 

I joined as an MBA intern in the Trust and Safety Cloud Ops team at the Hyderabad office. At the end of my internship, I had an opportunity to present my findings to the director of Trust and Safety, and executives from the Cloud operations team. I expressed interest to return as a full-time employee, and my recruiter was able to tell me I had an offer in-person on my university campus. It was a great surprise! 

I was a part of the Trust and Safety team for 18 months, and then there was an opening for a Strategic Partner Manager at YouTube. Google has always encouraged internal mobility and after multiple career development conversations with my manager, I decided to apply for this role. After multiple rounds of interviews, I was offered this position. It has been a fulfilling experience for the past four months. 

Nikhil standing indoors in front of a Google sign.

Visiting fellow interns at Mumbai office in May 2018.

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

I wish I would have known how friendly and approachable the Google recruiters and the interviewer team would be throughout the process. They don’t expect you to solve everything in your first attempt, as most of the questions are open-ended. 

It's helpful to know that engaging with the interviewer, asking follow up questions, taking some time to gather your thoughts and communicating with a structured problem-solving process will help you reach a better solution. 

What resources did you use to prepare for the interview?

For preparation, I referred to Google's certification courses like Skillshop and Digital Garage. The roles, responsibilities and expectations related to the position are clearly highlighted in the job description. Another good point of reference would be the YouTube playlist called Preparing to Apply or Interview at Google. This playlist gives an overview of the hiring process and offers tips from recruiters.

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

Embrace your strengths, and don’t be intimidated to apply.