On Saturday, March 9, I had the opportunity to attend the Passport to Google event at Google Headquarters in Chicago. Along with a number of other students from Illinois Tech and other Chicago-area colleges, I learned about Google culture, networked with Googlers (employees who work at Google) and recruiters, gained knowledge on how to prepare a resume, and enhanced interview skills.
When I first arrived at the Google building, I was taken up to the sixth floor and given a quick tour of the facilities. My group’s tour guide explained to us that although Google provides a traditional office workspace for its employees, workers are encouraged to work wherever they want within the facilities. Additionally, employees set their own work hours, as long as they are able to keep up progress and get work done. We walked through their desk spaces to an area resembling a large kitchenette, complete with provided drinks and snacks for employees. Our tour guide mentioned that Google’s founders mandated that food be within a certain vicinity of Google workers at all times. After all, Google was founded in a garage, just steps away from a kitchen. Google’s headquarters in Chicago also feature a full cafeteria, gaming room complete with both arcade systems and consoles, an atrium, and rooftop space.
After this mini tour, the participants were engaged in ice-breaker activities and introduced to a number of members who work at Google. Most of them were software engineers, who described their various paths to working at Google. They explained that these paths are very diverse – everyone takes a different journey on their way. There is no one correct path. They also opened up the floor for the visiting students to ask questions.
Following these introductions, one Google employee gave tips about how to structure a resume. To highlight a few of these tips, he said to always make sure to include education, experience, skills, and achievements. It’s also important to include programming languages you know, and to structure things in a way so that they feature action words, numbers and data (such as how much you improved an algorithm’s time), and what you gained from any experience.
Then, we were presented with an example technical interview, in which a current software engineer provided and went over her code for an example programming question. This was invaluable, because as a first-year, I’ve never attended a technical interview and really appreciated the opportunity to understand how to perform in one.
Finally, the day ended with a design innovation challenge, in which the participants were presented with the challenge to solve a problem that college students face. My group came up with an app called CareerConnect, which we were then tasked with presenting to the rest of the participants. After all 24 groups presented, the three groups that a team of judges deemed the most innovative were given prizes, including a Google home mini.
I learned a lot from attending Passport to Google – especially about the environment that Google provides its employees with. All of the employees seemed so excited to be working there. The energy and creativity that they give off was even described as “googliness” by one worker. I hope to attend similar Google events in the future.