In 2014 I was fortunate enough to get an internship offer from Google. It all started with a Google search in an afternoon at the end of the 2014 fall semester. I was looking for opportunities for summer internships, and I saw a very interesting one called the Google Engineering Practicum Internship Program.
What really intrigued me was that this program focused mainly on high school graduates, rising sophomore and rising juniors, those groups of students that were traditionally underrepresented in most of the Software Engineering Internship Programs, as the latter tend to attract more upperclassmen, graduate students and doctoral candidates.
I applied to this program shortly after I saw this opportunity, as I did for many others, but I did not really expect to receive a response. However, I did! I passed a technical interview at the end of last winter break, and after going through more of the hiring process in the spring and getting paired up with my hosts, I flew to the Bay Area in May and began my internship at Google’s Headquarters in Mountain View.
At Google, I worked in a small team under a larger team called “Authentication and Identity.” I was teamed up with another intern of the same program to work on an iOS prototype for Google Smart Lock, a cross-platform service that was announced at this year’s Google I/O Conference and is already integrated into Android.
My partner and I participated in many design sessions with other coworkers of the team, and worked closely to finish all parts of the prototype. We both got chances to experience different aspects of developing a product. I was grateful that I had not only a wonderful partner who always challenged and inspired me, but also many brilliant software engineers who were strict on everything: trailing spaces at the end of a code line, unit tests with code coverage as high as possible, code comments that were clear and comprehensible.
Once a coworker ,who worked closely with us, spent almost two days walking us through the fundamentals of iOS to guide us through the debugging process to find a solution to a non-deterministic error within our code. And I still cannot forget how impressed I was to realize how much effort software engineers of the company put in behind the scenes, and how much I learned from working as a developer in a team.
This internship has become one of the most important periods of my life, not just because I got to learn more about the company that I have admired the most since childhood.
More importantly, as a first-time intern, I was exposed to the best of the Bay Area, including a designer social event hosted by Quora, a trip to Github’s headquarters in San Francisco, and an opening ceremony and design innovation exhibition at Berkeley.
My internship partner was also from a small Midwestern liberal arts college, and we both agreed that this mixture of liberal arts education and software developer culture offered us an alternative perspective, prepared us with skills to integrate different ideas, and encouraged us to jump out of the traditional lens of a software engineer.
All of these experiences not only provided me opportunities to see beyond this little liberal arts college and explore innovative ideas of a larger world, but they also motivated me, as a student, to always stay eager to find out more about this unknown world.