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Black History Month Pay It Forward Challenge Winners

This spring we announced Google’s annual Black History Month “Pay It Forward” Challenge as a way to recognize individuals who are making a positive impact in the Black community, while also remembering those who have paved the way in the past. We received many inspiring applications filled with personal stories and determination — a reminder that there’s always time to make a difference (even as a busy college student!). We’re excited to share the work of our three winners, and hope that you feel inspired too. On to the winners!



Meet Calvary Rogers
Calvary Rogers

Calvary believes that “we let injustice win the day when we conclude that there is nothing we can do about it.” When confronted with an incident of on-campus threats targeting Black freshmen students, he knew that his only choice was to take action. As Co-Chair of UMOJA, an umbrella group that serves to unite all students that identify with the African Diaspora at the University of Pennsylvania, Calvary planned a university-wide town hall where Black students voiced their concerns with administration, each other, and the nation as a whole. While documenting the administrative actions students wanted to see (and starting the conversation about what change would look like), Calvary and his peers realized that what they needed most was to learn from the past.

Through UMOJA and the Africana Department, Calvary is developing a database that will function to individually archive student activism initiatives and institutional/administrative feedback across universities in America in order to maximize social progress and institutional breakthroughs. By archiving Black history at universities and their surrounding communities across America, he believes that we can better learn how to ameliorate both the experiences of Black students and citizens across the world (and how they respond to them).

“When we step aside and hear the voices and stories of underrepresented groups to understand their circumstances on a human level, we dramatically shift the dynamics of our community… in doing so, we unify, gain courage, and learn new ways to advance our fundamental humanity in ways that work for everyone.”


Meet Kielah Harbert and Wilglory Tanjong
L-R: Wilglory Tanjong; Kielah Harbert

Co-winners Kielah and Wilglory are also familiar with the importance of sharing and disseminating information as a way to empower marginalized students. After submitting their college applications, they realized that without the help of the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA), they may not have been able to successfully apply to universities around the country. This led them to wonder: do students who do not have the help of LEDA (but were just as qualified and worthy) have the resources that they needed to prepare and apply to college?  

#Admitted, Kielah and Wilglory’s new book, provides those resources. It offers information that is largely unavailable to socio-economically disadvantaged Black youth by serving as a guide that empowers, gives positive representation, and inspires readers to reach higher by providing them with the guidance they need to succeed. Additionally, the guide teaches students how to self-advocate, think critically, and navigate the many obstacles they will face as low-income students who care about education.

“In a world where Black youth are depicted as gangsters and thugs in mass media, and forgotten communities have little or no positive role models in positions of influence, #Admitted shifts the narrative. We show them, through positive representation, that they can be successful through education — we tell them, they can.” -- Kielah Harbert

How can you help?
Calvary encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your stories and experiences with activism and how they have tapped into untouched areas of social justice by utilizing people and/or organizations who have walked their paths before them. If you’d like more information on helping UMOJA, head to the request form.  Wilglory and Kielah urge you to buy copies of #Admitted for youth in your community, spread the word to others, have the duo speak to students, and lastly, support their summer "I Can Too" project.


Together with Calvary, Kielah and Wilglory, we can give voices and resources to all students both now and in the future.

My Path to Google: Adriana Jara, Software Engineer


Welcome to the second installment of our blog series “My Path to Google”. These are real stories from Googlers highlighting how they got to Google, what their roles are like, and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Adriana Jara. Read on!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in a small rural town in Costa Rica called Candelaria de Naranjo. I grew up surrounded by coffee plantations and nature. I used to help my family during the harvests and always joke that in spite of knowing the coffee making process from bean to cup, I must be one of the very few software engineers who doesn’t drink coffee! After high school, I moved out of my small town to go to the Universidad de Costa Rica for college, where I graduated with a Bachelor in Computer Science.

Besides being a software engineer at Google, I'm a dancer. I've been doing contemporary dance for 12 years, and I also practice salsa and West African dance. Dance has helped me see the world from a different perspective. It helps me clear my head and make better decisions as an engineer.



What’s your role at Google?
I'm a software engineer. I recently transferred to the Shopping Syndication team, where I hope to make shopping ads outside of google.com more useful and less annoying!

What inspires you to come in every day?
The people I work with. I also thoroughly enjoy solving problems, especially problems that have impact on our users. It’s rewarding to work with so many inspiring people to help make our users’ lives easier. I'm excited about connecting people with opportunities, and sharing the advantages that our products bring to more users.

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
It started with Gmail when I was in college. I very clearly remember opening my Gmail account and being so inspired by the people that changed how we do email (something that I thought was fine as it was). They made it so much more intuitive and effective that I remember thinking to myself “I want to work with people like that, people who don't take the status quo for granted, people who wonder how can we do better."

About 8 years later, I got the first email from an @google address (my recruiter’s) and got so excited about the chance to work with the people I had always admired. I never thought I could make it from my small town to the Googleplex. I never thought I would end up working in a place where you can impact millions of users around the world.


How did the recruitment process go for you?
I was super excited to even be in a Google office for the interviews, but at the same time, I was scared to death of the possibility of having to move by myself to a whole new country and start a different life. I remember my first phone interview didn’t go so well. At that point, I was losing hope, but got a surge of strength thinking “I’m a good engineer and I want to work at Google, but I’ll be fine even if it doesn’t work out.” The burst of confidence seems to have helped — I did well on my second interview, came onsite for interviews, and now I work here!


What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
I had the perception that Google was only looking for geniuses who knew everything and could come up with the best solutions in minutes. I wish I could go back in time to tell myself how wrong that perception is—it would’ve definitely removed at least a bit of the pressure of the interviews.

Now as an interviewer myself, I’ve realized that Google engineering interviews are basically just conversations about solving problems. Essentially, they go like this: If we were to work on [x] problem together and given [y] set of tools, how would you approach it? Had I known that this is the actual approach, I think I would've been more relaxed going into the process.


Can you tell us more about the resources you used to prepare?
Various coding exercises, an algorithm class (there are a lot of those on Coursera and other education sites), and a whole lot of practice. I knew several people who were also interviewing and we shared resources we found, did 'code reviews' on challenges, and did mock interviews together.

I also absolutely loved the ’How To’ videos from the Life at Google channel on Youtube.


To finish, do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Don't be afraid to try! There is nothing to lose by trying. If you want to work at Google, go ahead and apply. Prepare yourself for the interviews by sharpening your knowledge of data structures, algorithms, and coding. If you try and fail, don’t give up! There are many factors that might lead to a failed round of interviews—everyone has bad days—so prepare yourself and try again.

Visit google.com/students to learn more about life at Google and our opportunities for students. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and G+!

My Path to Google: Bjion Henry, Associate Account Strategist

Welcome to our blog series “My Path to Google”! We’ll be posting real stories from Googlers highlighting how they got to Google, what their roles are like, and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.


Today’s post is all about Bjion Henry. Read on!




Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m from Luton, just north of London in the UK. I studied Industrial Economics in the University of Nottingham, which was essentially a mixture between business and economics. I was active with Google while in college and also interned at Google.


What’s your role at Google?
I’m in a full-time Google Marketing Solutions role (I’m an Associate Account Strategist). Day-to-day, I work with digital marketing agencies advising them on how to grow their clients' businesses through online marketing and how to grow as agencies. It also involves a lot of data crunching and transforming insights into strategies that you then pitch to your clients.


What inspires you to come in every day?
In my role the clients have to trust you enough to actually go ahead with your ideas! Sometimes I even travel to London to meet clients face to face.


The best thing about the role is that you’re able to impact a lot of businesses and people, which is quite unusual for an entry-level role at a big company. That impact is special, and motivating. For example, although I probably didn’t acknowledge the gravitas of the situation at the time, as an intern I got to represent Google for a Q&A panel, and also for their AdCamp program. It was a bit intimidating at the start but it went really well (I think!).


Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
While studying for my undergrad in 2015, I was accepted onto Google’s Top Black Talent program and as part of that, I also took part in the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC).


We were paired with a local business and I volunteered to be the team leader of my group. Over the course of about 2-3 months, we met-up numerous times at the Google London office — I guess that was my first time really experiencing Google.


After that, I applied for an internship with Google.


How did the recruitment process go for you?
During my Google internship, I had conversations with my manager and recruiters regarding a full-time role and the recruitment process started then. I returned to university for my final year, and around January I had my first phone interview.


Once I had passed that, I then moved to face-to-face interviews where Google flew me to Dublin. I remember being stressed because it was at the same time as my exams, and it was difficult balancing the preparation for both. I also remember my first interview going pretty well — most of the questions just felt like small talk with the occasional business-related question. However, my second interview felt extremely hard. I left Dublin feeling as if I had lost the opportunity, but two weeks later I got a phone call confirming a full-time role.


What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
That I could work on a lot of projects. I interned with the Global Customer Experience team here at Google, where part of my time was spent working with advertisers to overcome any issues or challenges they were facing whilst advertising with Google. We would troubleshoot, give them advice, and generally be the face of Google to those customers.


I had a great manager and was encouraged to work on other projects within Google that interested me. I decided to work on Google Adopt, a startup program mentoring startups from around Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) on their digital marketing. First I rebranded the program, and then I redesigned and coded the external website for the upcoming cycle.


I was also interested in working in sales, so when it came time to apply for a full-time role I decided to go for the Google Marketing Solutions job and was successful.


Can you tell us more about the resources you used to prep?
I started with learning as much as I could about AdWords and Google through articles and YouTube videos. Next, I picked out keywords and concepts from the job and interview brief and prepared questions for them. For example, if it said ‘In your role you’ll speak to marketing professionals managing relationships,’ I’d prepare an answer to the question ‘tell me a time when you managed relationships with marketing professionals.’ When preparing the answers, I’d write them out in the STAR format, and that helped a lot in the interview.


To finish, do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Learn everything you can about Google — the products, the ethos, everything! Unsurprisingly, the best way to do that is to get involved in as many Google-related things as you can find. That could be a Google networking event, university programs, online events, or internships. You can also sign up for programs like GOMC and get Adwords certified. Once you’re through the door, you can network and you start to learn how the Google culture works.


My last take away would be to apply no matter what! Some people think you have to be an academic, or a tech-head, or a successful entrepreneur. I wasn’t really any of these and so when I applied it felt like I was playing the lottery. I honestly never thought I’d make it onto the Top Black Talent program let alone secure a Business Internship and then make it as a full-timer, so anything can happen!


Want to follow in Bjion’s footsteps?


Visit google.com/students to learn more about life at Google and our opportunities for students. Be sure to check out BOLD Immersion, our program for students from Europe, Middle East and Africa. Deadline: April 23rd, 2017 (23:59 GMT)


You can also see Bjion in a YouTube Live broadcast (and while you’re there, check out our other YouTube live events!): https://youtu.be/cy5Tbg3xOlQ

BreakInequality Hackathon: SMS technology and API integration bringing health information to developing nations

Today we're catching up with NatalNet — a team of University of Waterloo students who won Google's Grand Prize at the Devs without Borders-led BreakInequality Hackathon, which encouraged women through technology to build scaling solutions for Plan International Canada's maternal health programming in Bangladesh. (Spoiler alert: they built an app that bridges the communication gap between expectant mothers and community healthcare workers in rural areas of Bangladesh). We invited the NatalNet crew to Google Waterloo to share their hackathon story and fill us in on how the future of their app is shaping up in partnership with Plan International Canada.

University of Waterloo students pictured from left to right, Victoria (a third year student in Systems Design Engineering), Namrata (a second year Biomedical Engineering student), Ashley (a third year Financial Analysis and Risk Management student minoring in Computer Science), Isabelle (a second year Software Engineering student), Mack (a second year Biomedical Engineering student).



Why did you apply to the BreakInequality Hackathon?
Our experience with hackathons is incredibly varied; a few members of our team had never been to a hackathon before, while others had competed in several. Despite our range of experience, we were all motivated to attend BreakInequality for the opportunity to make social impact. The chance to create a solution that could impact the lives of women on a global scale was an opportunity that we simply could not pass up.

How did you decide to build the NatalNet app?
We loved the idea of being able to connect women in rural areas of developing countries to health information and care through SMS technology. We narrowed our scope to pregnancy and newborn care information after learning that Bangladesh has a 50% mobile phone proliferation rate and that 98% of these cell phones are 2G devices - meaning that many soon-to-be mothers have access to a  SMS-enabled cell phone. We built NatalNet as an SMS and web-based application to provide pregnant women with access to information and trained community health care workers. It’s incredibly important to us to support a solution that empowers expectant and new mothers to take charge of their own personal healthcare.

What challenges did you run into with your build?
We were working with a lot of technologies that many of us didn’t have experience with. Integrating SMS into a solution was something we hadn't tackled before. After digging through documentation on Firebase and different APIs that helped us sort out the syntax that would bring our functions to life, we ended up with a solution that was “fully functional” (meaning it did exactly what we envisioned it to do!). Overcoming the different API integration challenges that arose during the project was a huge source of learning and pride for us.

What's the most important lesson you learned during the experience?
We all gained an immense appreciation for sleep after marathoning through 24+ hours of hacking! We also learned that having a shared passion for a specific goal, and working hard towards that goal as a team, leads to amazing innovations. It’s easy to see how this lesson can be applied to the work world. Most positions, especially in the tech industry, require you to work as a member of a focused team. The teamwork skills we developed during BreakInequality are skills we will take with us into our professional careers.

What's next for NatalNet and your partnership Plan International Canada?
We've been working very closely with both the Plan International Canada and the Devs without Borders teams to research, budget and ensure logistics are in place to allow NatalNet to be realistically implemented in Bangladesh. From there, our database is built to scale. We plan to use Google Analytics and Cloud Natural Language API to send personalized, automated responses written by community health care workers to women in need of information, making access for them more efficient and accurate.

What advice do you have for other women pursuing careers in STEM who are drawn to solving complex real-world problems?
Always make time for things you find important. This experience proved to us how important it is to go out and get as much experience as you can. Don’t know how to code? Get out there and learn! Want to solve a complex problem? Get out there and start solving complex problems! It may seem as if you’re going at it alone, but you’ll find so many other brilliant female minds surrounding you — we did! By making a space for yourself in the industry, you're using your superwoman powers to open the door wider for future generations to enter STEM roles, so don't be afraid to get out there and start learning!





With Google's Grand Prize support behind them, these UWaterloo students are working closely with Plan International Canada and Devs Without Borders to bring tangible social impact to women in Bangladesh through their app. Go team NatalNet!

2017 Google Online Marketing Challenge Registrations Closing Soon

Don't miss out on your chance to bring marketing theory to life through a practical hands-on learning experience. Register for the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC) today! Professor registration closes on March 22, 2017. Student registration closes on April 5 — but all students must register under a verified professor. Read on to learn more about GOMC.

2016 GOMC Collage 4.png
2016 GOMC Winners Visiting Google


If this is your first time hearing about the Google Online Marketing Challenge? Or you would like to participate and just don’t know where to start? Check out the below questions and answers:


What is the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC)?
GOMC is an annual global online marketing competition for students from higher education institutions around the world. Google provides student teams with a $250 Google AdWords budget to develop and run an online advertising campaign for a real business or nonprofit organization of their choice. An independent Academic Panel, along with AdWords experts at Google, review the campaigns and select winning teams based on the success of their campaigns and the quality of their competition reports.


For more information about GOMC and what is new to the competition this year, check out our 2017 GOMC Launch Announcement.


What is required from a professor to participate in the GOMC?
A professor, faculty member, lecturer or instructor currently employed at a higher education institute can register for the GOMC. In order for students to participate in the GOMC, they must register under a verified professor, but from there, the professor’s level of involvement is up to them. Some professors teach a marketing course focused on GOMC or incorporate it into a subsection of a more all encompassing business/marketing/communications course, while others sponsor students in the GOMC outside of the classroom as an extracurricular activity.


Check out the program Terms and Conditions and answers to frequently asked questions, as well as this Guide to the Google Online Marketing Challenge for a breakdown and timeline of each stage of the competition and tips for getting started!


What do students get out of participating in the GOMC?
The Google Online marketing Challenge provides students with the opportunity to:
  • Gain relevant and valuable skills through a practical hands-on learning experience.
  • Build a true relationship with a client and make a real-life impact in their community.
  • Gain exposure to the digital marketing landscape using real money on a live advertising platform.
  • Become AdWords Certified and put their skills to the test, showcasing their AdWords knowledge and experience to potential employers.
  • Win awesome prizes like a trip to the Google!


Hear from two GOMC alumni about their experiences and how they used their skill set developed throughout the program to land jobs at Google.


For more information on the competition, please visit google.com/onlinechallenge and add our Google+ Page to your circles (google.com/+googleonlinemarketingchallenge) to receive regular competition updates and reminders.

Take learning to the next level with the Google Online Marketing Challenge and register today!

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‘Paying It Forward’ in honor of Black History Month

Challenge Spotlight: ‘Paying It Forward’ in honor of Black History Month

BGN_Friday Group 01.jpg


Are you a social change agent in your community or know someone who is? If so, we invite you to join Google’s fourth annual “Pay It Forward” Challenge. The deadline to submit an application is March 10, 2017, at 11:59 pm PST.

At Google, we value diversity and inclusion, and we support individuals who do the same. In honor of Black History Month, undergraduate and graduate students are invited to showcase how they have positively impacted and influenced their local communities within the US. In particular, we’re seeking leaders whose work has demonstrated a commitment to expanding access and opportunities for the Black community.  

Last year, we showcased the work of two groups paving the way for leadership in their communities; the Spelman College section of the National Council of Negro Women and the Detroit Revitalization and Business Initiative (Detroit R&B) at the Ross School of Business.

To apply:

Criteria to apply:
  • Individuals who:
    • Currently attend an undergraduate or graduate school at an accredited college or university in the United States
  • Demonstrate a commitment to expanding access and opportunity for their local community

Submissions will be judged by a team of Googlers who will be assessing the innovation, scale and the short- and long-term effects of your impact. The organizations that are chosen will be featured here on the Google Students Blog to amplify their voice, and will have the opportunity to receive mentorship from a Googler to take their impact to the next level!

To both enter the challenge and get more info, visit our 2017 Black History Month website.

If you have questions about the challenge, please email payitforward@google.com.

We look forward to seeing your submission!

The Google Programs team

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From the beginning to now, computers have always been a part of our life. People use them for different purposes in their day to day life. In today's busy life, it is almost impossible for us to pass a day without a computer as they are involved with a...

A Day in the Life: Computer Science Summer Institute/Generation Google Scholarship — Applications open


There’s less than a month left to apply for Generation Google Scholarships and CSSI,
so submit your applications now!

In today’s blog post, we’re giving you a look at a day in the life of Riya, one of our Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) students from this past summer. We’ll walk you through her schedule, giving any Generation Google and CSSI applicant a better idea of what the experience is like.

8:45am: I use my badge to get in and head into the classroom with my fellow CSSIers before class starts, where sitting on the tables I see boxes of donuts waiting for us!

9am: Class starts. This morning, we’re learning about object oriented programming in Python.

10:30am: Break for a snack (of more donuts and fruit snacks) and an icebreaker to wake us up.

10:45am: Head back into the classroom and go through a few Python Labs with my partner.

12pm: Lunch time. I head to the cafeteria with the rest of the CSSIers where they’re serving wings. I wait in line and of course have to head over to the panini station to make my own custom sandwich. We then head upstairs to the roof to enjoy lunch in the sun before playing a competitive game of baggo (beanbag tossing!). Afterwards, we go back down to grab a quick yogurt bowl and take it back to the classroom.

1pm: We trickle back into the classroom for the afternoon workshop. Each day, a new person comes to talk to us about different development topics. Today, we’re talking about Impostor Syndrome and how to address this issue.

2pm: Back to OOP in Python. We are working on coding a Ninja game!

3:30pm: We stop for a break where we play Google trivia. The winning students get Google swag — pillows, socks and android toys!

3:45pm: We finish coding the Ninja game and then are tasked with breaking up into groups and implementing a harder version of the Ninja game.

4:30pm: We break into smaller groups to work on the project, and a TA assists when we need help.

5:30pm: Exit survey and daily meme time! At the end of each day a meme is posted by Jessie, the lead for our Chicago site, and we fill out snippets to let the instructors and CSSI program managers know what topics we’re finding challenging, what we thought of the development workshop and overall how we’re doing.

6pm: Over and out. Heading home to get some rest and relaxation!

A big thanks to Riya for sharing her day!

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