First Day at Google

Here’s a summary of how I landed an internship with Google. I feel compelled to write this out for the first time because the vibe I got at Google is that people are really friendly, really honest, and one heck of a lot smarter than me. So the least I could do is be honest.

I didn’t actually get one of these Noogler hats, but they do consider us Nooglers around here. I saw a few of the hats around, although they weren’t generally being worn by anybody. It sounds like if they had TGIF this Friday and I went, I would get one. But unfortunately this Friday’s TGIF is cancelled due to Monday’s holiday. Maybe I’ll ask someone if I can still get the hat; they’re so cool. Although we did get a Google visor already, this Noogler hat has a propeller on top (which you can’t see in the photo), so it stands out.

Image by “Moblog” (source)

As I’m writing this down, I’m quickly finding that the connections are quite a bit more twisted than I thought! It’s really interesting to look for my old emails and reconstruct in my memory just what happened. I believe it started with submitting my resume on Google’s website for a summer internship. At the time, I was a freshman at USC. I received a reply from Heelie, who told me that no, the internship program requires at least two years of college. That’s fine, so I inquired about the Google Pizza Program which I discovered online somehow and read about on Google’s website.

She replied, saying that she’d forwarded my email along to John. That year, I organized quite a few excellent and very successful Google Pizza Parties. At the end of that year, I lost contact with John as he no longer replied to my emails. This was last year, and for that summer I applied to do a project for OSAF as part of the Google Summer of Code.

I was accepted, which is totally awesome. But shortly after accepting, I was offered an internship with JPL. Now, I love JPL. I’ve been going to their annual Open House events for longer than I can remember. So it was a tough choice, and ultimately I could not see myself turning down the offer from JPL. Initially, I tried to do both projects. JPL during the day, and SoC at night. But that didn’t work. The fact that I had very little open source coding experience compounded with my limited time, and finally resulted in my inability to do anything substantial. So I dropped SoC and worked for JPL.

Since John didn’t seem to be around, I emailed my contact for Summer of Code, LH. She forwarded my email to Hanah, who is now my contact for the Google Ambassador Program. Great!

Since I was now in my second year at USC, I emailed Hanah to ask about applying for an internship. She gladly took my resume and submitted it. A short while later, I got a call from Google. Two phone interviews and several weeks of waiting later, I had an offer for a summer internship.

It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted. I won’t go into specifics, but suffice to say that it’s all I thought it would be. It’s a cliche, but: day one was a great experience and I’m seriously looking forward to what I’ll get to be doing with Google for this week, as well as the whole summer.

What surprised me a bit was the low-pressure environment. I thought people might be a little like me: nervous, excited, and so forth. But people are really easygoing. I was afraid I’d have to work really insanely hard in my three months. But we were told that there’s a six month learning curve at Google, for most people to just work on their first project. And these are incredibly smart people, too. So that gives me peace-of-mind that I’m probably okay even if I don’t live up to my own absurdly high standards.

I talked with Mike at the end of the day about a lot of things, including Googlers blogging. He mentioned the famous case of Mark Jen, who was fired for blogging. Mark crossed some definite boundaries, though. Generally, the idea I got from Mike is that Google is pretty cool and that I’ll be fine if I blog reasonably and sensibly. Lots of things, of course, are confidential outside the company, so I’ll just keep super-quiet about those.

P.S. If you’re from Google and you see any potential problems with this post, please let me know right away. I’ll be happy to do what’s best for both Google and myself. Thanks.

6 Responses to “First Day at Google”

  1. Michael says:

    I know you feel fortunate to find a great company in Google. I think Google is fortunate to attract great talent like you.

  2. […] Google Gear « First Day at Google […]

  3. Scott Merritt says:

    Sounds extremely interesting, and I recall the tough decisions you were having trouble making last summer…glad things worked out!

  4. Larissa says:

    Do you get those shirts free, and if so, do you have extras to pass along to friends??? I know I’m being tacky, but I LOVE google :)

  5. Kenny says:

    Sounds like Google is a great place to intern at —

    I’m going into my 2nd year of college and thinking about internships for next summer (early? nah..) .. and I was wondering if you had any tips on applying and the kind of skillset(s) they’re looking for. Also, hopefully one needn’t be a genius/have an IQ of 150 or attend an “elite” school to work there :-}

  6. Quora says:

    How do you compare working at an established company like Facebook/Google and a promising startup like Dropbox/Quora, especially for a fresh graduate?…

    I’d recommend that as a fresh grad, you optimize for learning — whether it be learning technical skills, how to build a product, how to lead a team, or something else — and pick the work environment where’d you learn the most. You’ll likely be wor…

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