About the Author: Akshay Kumar Singh, a student of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, talks about his internship and the work culture at Google.
Graduating from a rather nondescript college in MP, I had finally made it to a respectable business school in Mumbai after working as a business analyst for two years. Summer internships are a vital part of B-school curriculum since one gets to work practically on the learned concepts and experiences corporate life. With belief in my abilities and a drive to elevate my career, I appeared for an internship at Google Inc. arranged for by our college placement schools. The company provided the list of shortlists the night before the day of reckoning. There was a lot to do in a brief span of time, so I created a to-do-list. I googled Google and memorised the important details and products associated with the organisation. There was a lot of research involved, and I was surprised to know that search, Gmail, and YouTube are just a tiny part of Google’s portfolio of products. The company had provided a summary of the vertical I’d been shortlisted for which helped me understand my job profile. I read up about the key issues being tackled at Google – spam, fraud, and the need for optimum user experience.
In the technical interview, they asked me about my past work and my interpretation of the role I was applying for. I was judged on my understanding of spam and fraud, how I would identify them, and how they were a threat to Google. My preliminary preparation helped me a lot in explaining their impact on the huge user base of Google products. I was asked to explain my past work experience to assess its mapping with the prospective role. Then I was quizzed on some basic features of YouTube. Being an avid user, I listed some of its interesting features. I was also asked to plan a product launch for Google I/O. I talked about the teams, viz. technical, legal, and function, and the steps such as planning an event schedule, inviting the media and prominent app developers, etc. that could be useful in launching a new Pixel phone.
The next round was a behavioral interview in which I was asked to respond to certain scenarios as a part of my culture fitment for the company. I was asked to prioritize a series of tasks. I kept a critical task which was to fix latency in YouTube and failure in Gmail on top instead of the one asked for by the vice president of the company. There were situation based questions such as how would I manage it if two of my team members didn’t get along well. Lastly, I was asked to explain how I would handle a multi-stakeholder event like Google I/O. I utilized my previous experience of coordinating among various teams to explain how time and expectation sensitivity was paramount in such situations. Both the telephonic interviews lasted around 40 minutes each with a gap of two hours in the interim.
It was an unforgettable moment when the HR congratulated me on my selection to intern at the best place to work, the heart of technology. I could finally watch the movie ‘The Internship’ to understand how things worked at Google rather than for Owen Wilson’s tomfoolery! I could not squander this opportunity so, I began preparing for the internship. I took on some relevant courses to learn the intricacies of the challenges in data security in a digitized world. I even read ‘Faces of Fraud’ by Martin Biegelman to understand how fraudsters thought and operated.
Although Google, Hyderabad, was nowhere as awesome as Google, California, it was the best I had ever seen. There was a slide in the main lobby, an expensive gym, a library, two game rooms with PlayStation and Xbox along with table tennis, foosball, and billiards, a spa, two huge cafeterias, and a lounge that served beverages (20+ types of coffee, shakes, and drinks) and snacks. Each floor of the building was built on a theme like Indian cinema, coastal, traditional, and music. There were micro-kitchens on every floor along with well-stocked fridges and snack stands. Legend has it that every new joinee gains weight there. I certainly did! I was slated to work in trust and safety, a team that oversaw vendor productivity and quality across Google products and services. I was teamed up with a ‘buddy’ who introduced me to the team and the work.
My primary project involved creating a one-stop global dashboard to track operational metrics for a specific Google product. I faced some challenges such as data inconsistency, access issues, ambiguous schemas, and pipelining of tasks along the way. I assisted various product owners in the team and worked on multiple projects ranging from data security audit and cost-benefit analysis to compiling a key central repository. The final dashboard was created in record time and went live for use by teams in Dublin, Tokyo, USA, Hyderabad, and Malaysia. My team recognized my efforts and awarded me a peer bonus and a certificate of excellence, typically unheard of for interns.
Throughout the eight weeks that I worked at Google, I received constant support from the HR team as well as the internal development team. The place truly justified why it is sought out for employment by people all over the world. Looking back, the colorful and irreverent bays, the weekly global town halls, the excellent (and free) food, the high of working with the best minds in the country, and the chance to make a difference in the lives of billions of people using Google products will always be some of the most prized memories of my life. Google doesn’t relent or rest on laurels; it keeps striving to make its products better. This made me realize the need to grow and surpass myself each day to achieve greater heights. To keep a track of each day, I maintained a journal for the duration of my internship listing the tasks I did each day. Learning the immense effort and thought that go into each Google product was an awe-inspiring and humbling experience.
Inspired by Akshay’s journey? Apply to these cool MBA internships and take the next step towards your destination.