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Women in STEM: What It’s Like to Work for Google

Women in STEM: What It’s Like to Work for Google main image

Whether it’s helping you find your way around a new city or research information for an upcoming study assignment, Google is often the fastest and easiest way to get what you’re looking for. The internet behemoth is so unavoidable now, it’s actually kind of scary.

But what’s it actually like to work at Google? We’ve all heard the stories of Google offices fitted with ball pits and slides, but is working for this tech giant as exciting as it sounds? To find out, we spoke to Raushaniya Maksudova, a site reliability engineer with Google’s team.

Raushaniya joined Google, having studied in the at MIPT in Russia. While there, she obtained a French language scholarship and traveled to Brittany to study general and academic French with six other Russian students. From there, she was offered an internship at Google Switzerland and then passed an interview for a full-time role.

What attracted you to the Google Switzerland Internship?

In terms of career opportunities, it was a chance to get a taste of what it is like to work at Google. Needless to say, Google is famous for its challenging and impactful projects, and I wanted to be a part of it. Besides, working in an English-speaking environment and living in a country I’d never been to sounded very appealing.

What did the application process for the internship consist of?

I was contacted by a Google recruiter who took notice of my resume, suggesting I apply for the summer internship. How did they find my CV? Well, a year earlier I applied for a , and they’d kept my resume in the database.

I talked a couple of times over Hangouts with the recruiter. She explained the stages of the application process and gave me some tips on preparing for an interview. Then there were the technical interviews over Hangouts, with coding in Google Docs.

The final stage of the process consisted of a host matching interview. Host matching basically means finding a project you’ll be working on during the internship. Projects are proposed by different teams that are looking for interns and, to understand whether it’s a good fit for both the team and yourself, they schedule a 30-minute phone interview with the host — your potential mentor who submitted the project.

What advice would you offer students interested in applying for an internship at Google?

You can find some really useful bits of information on the page. Remember Google receives thousands of CVs, so even if yours is really good, it may take time before it’s noticed and the recruiters get back to you.

To increase the chances of hearing from them as soon as possible, you can ask someone you know at Google for a referral — say, if you both studied at the same university. I also advise working on projects and developing your experience, reading the book Cracking the Coding Interview, and making sure you have a well-structured and easy-to-read resume.

Latin words for as many internships as possible before you graduate as they’ll help to expand your knowledge and give you valuable hands-on experience and a network of connections. Don’t have any work experience yet? While it’s good to have some, it’s not imperative. We all started from somewhere, so many companies even accept freshman students.

My final piece of advice: Don’t worry if you don’t feel ready for the technical interviews. You should still apply as, regardless of the outcome, you’ll benefit. For a start, the experience boosts your problem-solving skills, helps you identify areas for improvement, lets you get a taste of technical interviews and find out what to expect. You’ll have learned how to get ready for an important conversation, take your nerves under control and talk your way through a difficult problem, explaining your thoughts under psychological pressure in a non-native language.

If you do fail the first time you apply, this won’t affect your future applications, so you can safely reapply in a year. I know people who were contacted by Google a year after they applied, offering them the chance to try again, and their second or third attempt was successful.

What work were you doing during your internship?

I worked with the YouTube SRE team on Doorman, a global distributed client-side rate limiting solution. There’s a from SREcon 2016 about this project available online, in case you’re interested. It was after I completed the internship.

When did you know you wanted to work full-time at Google?

During the internship I was having a great time and enjoyed everything about it. At first, I wasn’t sure whether taking a full-time job straight after school was exactly what I wanted, as I had just earned my bachelor’s and entered a master’s degree program at MIPT.

Then, mid-internship, I had a couple of long conversations about this with my team — the YouTube site reliability engineers — asking for their opinions, discussing all the pros and cons. They were very supportive and genuinely interested in helping me out with the decision, which I’m very grateful for. As a result, I came to the simple conclusion that I had nothing to lose and it was worth a try.

What aspects of working for Google might people be surprised to learn about?

A bunch of stuff is developed for internal use only: There are lots and lots of services, applications, and tools that are very handy, useful, and helpful in many ways. They make life and work — that is, the development and support process — so much better and easier.

Everything is designed and run in such a way that you can focus on your projects and responsibilities, without wasting your energy on anything else that might have diverted you from doing the job. A simple example is having a dedicated webpage for checking the menu and how many people there are in line at the cafes. This means that, before going for lunch, you can see where you would spend the least time waiting.

It also surprised me how open people are about their insecurities. There are an overwhelming number of talented and skilled people working here with expertise in a variety of fields. It’s definitely inspiring, but it can lead to feeling like you don’t deserve to be here with them. People are very open about this ‘imposter syndrome’ and aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and share their real feelings, which makes you realize how supportive and encouraging the Google community is.

What’s it like working as a woman in tech? How aware are you of the general lack of diversity in the industry? What is Google doing to address this?

It’s cool! The places where I got a chance to work always felt comfortable and decent. Thankfully, I’ve not had any negative experiences working in a male-dominated environment. On the contrary, I’ve had really good relationships with my colleagues and teammates and we’re good friends.

However, there is currently an obvious lack of diversity in IT, though this is slowly but surely changing. As far as I can tell, companies, especially the big ones such as Google, go to great lengths to . You can see the industry changing by just looking at the number of Grace Hopper participants, which is growing every year.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career to date?

It has to be the lack of confidence in my own capabilities. This is the biggest internal obstacle that I have been facing so far.

What impact do you think being a woman has had on your career and how people treat you?

People outside Google still get quite surprised when I say I’m a software engineer. They become curious about what I’m working on, how difficult it is, and why I chose this career.

What advice would you offer young women interested in pursuing a tech career?

Believe in yourself! I truly think there’s nothing you can’t learn and master if you put enough effort into it. It’s easy to talk yourself down sometimes, thinking a particular field or project or company are too good for you, but this thinking is holding you back. Just go for it!

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Written by Craig OCallaghan
As editor of TopUniversities.com, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.

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Great!!!