Raise your hand if you’ve wondered what it’s like to work at Google. Here, we’ve tapped three impressive Googlers to learn their tips for getting some of that secret sauce à la Mountain View.
Nathan Allen, 39, started in Google’s New York City office in October 2015 and is now the head of design for stores, sustainability and special projects. To get where he is, he urges college grads to consider meaningful internships, be flexible and say yes to challenges.
“There are plenty of paid internships available, too, so don’t think that only the wealthy can be interns. (It may just take longer to find the right one that is paid.)” said Allen. “My first real job after college was an internship at National Audubon Society. My experience there opened so many doors and created so many connections and opportunities.”
Allen, who lives in Williamsburg, first came to Google to work in creative production. “Six years later, I now lead a range of special projects, which has included designing the physical Google Store in Chelsea, a range of sustainability initiatives and experiential installations like Tokyo Design Week,” he said.
To work at Google, you may need to be patient and find out where you can best contribute to the company, Allen said. “For most who make it to Google, it takes a lot of effort and a lot of time. I began working here at 34, and for myself, it took that amount of time to be ready and to have the knowledge and confidence to take on the projects I do today.”
Allen recommends finding people in your field that work there and reaching out. “I have people message me for advice on LinkedIn all the time, and even if it takes a few weeks to respond, I always try to provide input and meet live with folks that need help,” he said.
Meanwhile, work hard, work smart and be kind. “Working hard is being committed to doing what it takes each day to reach project goals. Working smart is taking care of yourself, being efficient with your efforts but being creative and using your imagination to solve problems. Often, the status quo should be questioned to succeed,” he said. “Kindness is more important than all. The simplest of gestures can have the most amazing impact.”
As the head of strategy, accessibility and disability inclusion, Laura Allen, 33, who lives in Larchmont, NY, tells people who want to enter her field to “be a constant champion of accessibility and inclusion, and let your passion shine.”
For Allen, it was a history of facing barriers and inequities due to a visual impairment. “That made me want to leverage Google’s mission and scale to not only level, but up-level the playing field for people with disabilities,” she said.
Since joining Google in 2010, she’s picked up more than a few savvy tips for joining her ranks.
“The tech industry needs more people who can advocate and push for equity, who can respectfully represent the needs of people with disabilities, and genuinely uphold the disability inclusion principle of ‘nothing about us, without us,’ ” said Allen, adding that aspiring future staffers should try to build connections across this community and find ways to get involved. “You never know who you’ll meet, or what that connection may lead to in the future!”
While interviewing, Allen says to focus on your relevant experience, but also try to express why you want to work there. “It can really differentiate you as a candidate and make deeper connections with possible future teams,” she said.
For candidates with disabilities, she also recommends checking out Google’s Careers site geared toward that sector.
“We have an amazing employee resource group which brings together people with disabilities, family members or friends of people with disabilities and allies to support one another,” she said.
Allen says zooming in on what fulfills you is important. “You may not be able to spend 100 percent of your time doing the work that excites you most, but if you intentionally factor it into your schedule, it will bring you more energy, joy and longevity along your path.”
Lauren Whitt, Ph.D.
As the head of global resilience, Lauren Whitt, 41, splits her time evenly between Google Atlanta and Boulder, Colo. She certainly has a unique career path.
“Resilience was the focus of my doctoral dissertation research, but at the time, companies didn’t have full-time corporate roles focused on cultivating and developing resilience skills in the workplace,” said Whitt, who’s been with the company for eight years. “As a global well-being manager at Google, I learned there was an opportunity to bring mental peak performance and resilience skills to our employees — enhancing the way we work and fueling well-being. Google changed my perspective from climbing a preset ladder to success to teaching me that our dream jobs surface when we diligently strive to solve unique challenges and improve our surrounding communities.”
Whitt recommends establishing a proven record of designing, delivering and evaluating data-driven, outcomes-focused programs.
“Get involved in the conversation and be an avid learner, challenging yourself to thrive in ambiguity,” she said. “Invest in listening to mental performance coaches on podcasts, and read books or articles on cutting-edge science and approaches to cultivating resilience and mental skills in high performers.”
And collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.
“Over my eight years at Google, I’ve learned the power and strength of collaboration,” said Whitt.
In addition, look to get as much feedback and input as possible from your colleagues, peers and bosses. “[This] has made me a better leader, program architect and teammate,” she said.
Where to search
Your best bet is Careers.Google.com. As of press time, there were 765 open jobs available based in New York City. You can search by brand (Google proper, Fitbit, YouTube, etc.), job types, skills and qualifications. Openings run the gamut from engineering, tech and sales to “people” (HR) and business management. You can also search for remote-eligible jobs.
Grow With Google is another great option. With the free training courses and career resources offered here, you can learn skills from buffing up your YouTube presence to interview best practices and also learn more about their certificate programs in IT support, data analytics, project management, UX design and more. This can fast-track your path to your dream job (not necessarily at Google) with more than 8 out of 10 certificate holders reporting a positive career impact within six months. You can expect $63,600 as the average starting salary for entry-level roles across the company’s certificate fields.