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Winners of the Google Hispanic Heritage Month, Pay it Forward contest

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month*, Google hosted the ‘Pay it Forward’ contest.* In this blog post we’ll have a Q&A with our winners, Oscar Cazalez and Luis Narvaez, showcasing their amazing work that impacts educational access and opportunity for the Hispanic community.
*Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Student Winner: Oscar Cazalez
Based in Chicago, Ill., Oscar is a senior at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he is simultaneously studying toward a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Finance. This year, Oscar worked with 4 peers to form a scholarship fund for undocumented students who don’t qualify for federal aid or student loans. So far, the fund has raised over $11,000 and multiple grants have already been awarded.

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Professional Winner: Luis Narvaez
Also based in Chicago, Luis is the Director of Strategic Projects at Chicago Public Schools. Luis came to the US from Mexico when he was 15 and had to learn English as a second language. In his current role, Luis works to develop initiatives like Bilingual Student Access to College and Career Attainment (BACCA), which brings together elementary, middle and high school counselors, college admissions and financial aid representatives, and members of community based organizations focused on college access for underrepresented populations. Luis is currently working toward his Masters in Educational Leadership.


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What would people would be surprised to learn about you?
Oscar: When I tell people my story of how I got to the United States, they are usually surprised. But they are truly surprised when I tell them that I am a first generation college student, play Division III Men’s Soccer for my university, and I am finishing my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration while taking classes for my Master in Science of Finance. I am just one of millions of undocumented students who are doing great work in their respective fields.

Luis: I became a US citizen as soon as I was eligible and have had the chance to travel throughout Latin America, Puerto Rico, and parts of Europe. Traveling is one of my biggest passions and I will continue to travel for as long as I can. My wife and I also have raised a beautiful 4 year old since birth as our foster child and will be adopting him very soon.

It sounds like your work requires a lot of time, dedication, and energy. How do you keep it up?
Oscar: My days are always long and I am stressed almost all the time. But I know the importance of taking care of my mental and physical health. When I am not in soccer season, I go to the gym to relieve my stress; I usually do power lifting. I’m lucky that I live in Chicago because I go biking by the Lake during the summer.

I know many undocumented students are not open about the immigration status but I am not afraid because I know for a fact that if you’re undocumented and attending college, you have worked and sacrificed so much. At the end of the day, my vision and purpose motivate me to keep going.

Luis: The 3 Fs in my life are my backbone. One F is for family - I am blessed to have a very loving and caring wife, who supports my journey and helps me raise our two boys (3 and 4 years of age), and a mother and father who've been by my side every step of the way. I am also a man of faith, so that's the second F; I believe that we are all connected to spiritual powers beyond our understanding and control, and I like to stay in connection with those forces. The third F is for friends who I have always leaned on for support and advice and who cheer me on every step of the way.

What motivates you to do this work? Why do you think it’s important to pay it forward?
Oscar: My younger undocumented peers motivate me because I was once a student who feared going to college due to my immigration status. I was always told if I worked hard, I could go places but I found out that there are more barriers when you’re undocumented. Growing up, others lent me a helping hand, so I am just doing the same thing for others.

Luis: I think we always need to take a look at our accomplishments and achievements, be thankful for our current position, and pay it forward by helping others get to a similar point. Being selfish is the worst path we can take when we reach success. I come from a community where we care for one another, help each other when there's obstacles in the way, and celebrate others achievements and successes as if they were our own.

Who or what inspires you?
Oscar: My parents are my greatest motivation because they risked everything to give their children a better life and a shot at the American Dream. One day, I want to pay it forward to my parents by buying them a house and helping them financially. It has been a tough journey but I have always let my work ethic speak for itself.

Luis: As a former ESL student who arrived from Mexico at the age of 15 without US citizenship, I give credit for where I am today to all of the educators in high school, undergraduate, and graduate level who believed in me and pushed me to challenge myself.

What’s next for you?
Oscar: My short term goal is to get an internship this upcoming summer and to graduate with a Master of Science in Finance, while continuing to fundraise for the scholarship. Long-term, I plan to work either in banking or the tech sector for about five years before starting my own company. I also want to continue my activist work by creating more resources for students who are in financial need but don’t qualify for aid or loans; motivating students to pursue STEM degrees; and by being a constant advocate for immigrant rights.

Luis: I would like to pursue a PhD. I am very well aware of the lack of educated Latino males in this country and I would like to become a role model for them. I am very interested in pursuing a program in Educational Policy Studies and so I can have positive impact in shaping the future of education in America.

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Spotlight on Women Techmakers Scholars: Amy & Alma (Spoiler alert: application advice!)

Through the Women Techmakers Scholars Program - formerly the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship - Google is furthering Dr. Anita Borg’s vision of creating gender equality in the field of computer science by encouraging women to excel in computing and technology and become active leaders and role models in the field.

We have awarded the scholarship to women from all over the world since 2004 who continue to inspire us with their leadership and achievements. We recently caught up with Alma Castillo (2015 scholar from EMEA) and Amy Baldwin (2014 scholar from the US) to share their experiences as scholars and advice for potential applicants:
Amy Baldwin
Alma Castillo
 

Tell us a little about yourself:
Alma Castillo: I studied Computer Science and Mathematics as an undergrad at the Autonomous University of Madrid and at the time I received the scholarship, I was studying a MSc. in HCI at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. I always knew I wanted to make software people could interact with to make their lives easier and better.

Amy Baldwin: I grew up in Prescott, Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University in 2015 with a BS in Computer Science. While I was a student I did two internships at Google — as an Engineering Practicum intern in 2013 and a Software Engineering intern in 2014. I came back to Google as a full-time Software Engineer in August 2015 and currently work on home automation for the Google Assistant. In my free time, I love to knit, do yoga, and hike.

What do you think of the application process?
Alma: The application process is a great way to reflect on yourself and the hard work you have done until now. Take your time and make sure you show who you are in your essay.

Amy: Essay questions are always nerve-racking and, of course, the part of the application process that scares us all the most. I believe the key is to just be yourself and speak honestly in your own voice. Make sure the readers know who you are and what you're passionate about. Once you dive in with this mindset, it's not too bad!

Besides the financial benefit, what else did you gain from the scholarship?
Alma: When I think about the scholarship, the most important thing I see is the amazing people I have met through it. At the scholar's' retreat I met other women studying Computer Science in different countries that have now become great friends I turn to for collaboration and advice. The scholars network expands through the years and the different regions providing an incredible family of computer scientists full of women ready to help each other.

What impact has the Scholarship had on you and your academic career?
Amy: Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to leave my off-campus job to only work on campus, and better focus on school. I actually had enough time to finish my undergraduate honors thesis, which I'm thankful I did! I [also] was invited to attend the annual award night held by my school, which is typically exclusive to graduating students, to be recognized for the award. It was really cool to be recognized in front of my professors and staff for my accomplishments, and I ended up attending the following spring as the Outstanding Undergraduate in Computer Science.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the scholarship next Year?
Alma: Apply! Even if you think it will be difficult. The application process is a great way to reflect on yourself and discover the great things you have done. Don't be afraid. Just show who you are and what you are passionate about.

Amy: As I mentioned before, just be honest and speak in your own voice. The scholarship committee wants to know who you are, which includes all of the awesome things you've accomplished but also the road you've taken to get where you are and your potential to do the many incredible things you'll do in the future. Also, don't hesitate to apply! I was so close to never submitting my application because I truly believed there was no way I was possibly good enough. I had the same fear when applying for my first internship. You just need to remember that you are awesome, and if you don't apply, you'll never know you had it in you!

What are the next steps for you?
Alma: I recently graduated from my MSc. and I now work as a Software Engineer at Google Play. I hope to continue passing it on through the scholars community.

Amy: I certainly can't see myself leaving Google anytime soon. I love my job and my team - it's exciting being at the center of a product that is so important to the company and our users!

Read more about the program and apply here! We are currently accepting applications for the US, Canada and EMEA. Applications for Asia Pacific will open in early 2017.

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Bring developers at your university together for Hash Code 2017!






Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an engineer at Google?

Now’s your chance to satisfy your curiosity by volunteering to host a Hash Code hub at your university. Hash Code, a team-based programming competition, tasks university students and professionals across Europe, the Middle East and Africa with solving a real Google engineering problem. And we’re looking for developers to help bring the excitement to their own communities in February 2017. Are you up for the challenge?

Students compete in the Online Qualification Round in February 2016 from a hub at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain

Last year, 17,000 students and professionals from more than 90 countries teamed up to optimize drone delivery schedules for Hash Code’s Online Qualification Round. While teams can compete from wherever they’d like to, many opted to join in from one of the 300+ hubs organized by fellow developers (where, it’s safe to say, they had a lot of fun).

Laco Pápay organized the hub at his university in Bratislava last year (and is now a Googler based in Zurich). “Before the competition started, we had a lot of fun with set-up: decorating the room, taking pictures for the hub photo contest,” he said. “When the problem was announced and people sat down to work, the fun continued. Competing against teams on a scoreboard is great, but it’s even more exciting if the teams you’re up against are sitting just one desk over.

Teams work together to schedule satellite operations during the 2016 Final Round at Google Paris.

The Online Qualification Round for 2017 will take place on February 23, 2017. From there, the top 50 teams will be invited to Google Paris for the Final Round on April 1.

If you think you might want to host a hub, find out more and sign up on our site. If you’re not able to host but would like to compete, you can be among the first to know when registration opens in December.


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Google UK launches applications for Higher Level Apprenticeships in Digital Innovation

** UPDATE — deadline extended to Jan 15, 2017 **
We are delighted to open applications for the Higher Level Apprenticeship in Digital Innovation Program with Google UK! As the entry point for students’ career in technology, the Higher Level Apprenticeship in Digital Innovation Program provides the skills students need to pursue a career in tech. This apprenticeship targets students who want to experience working in a tech company, while at the same time studying towards a foundation degree in Computer Science.


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Students selected as apprentices will be assigned to a Google host for the duration of their two-year apprenticeship and will get the opportunity to work alongside a team of engineers to solve real-life problems. The program will start with a two-month initial training with our partner Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, in May 2017.



If this sounds interesting and you meet the minimum qualifications listed below, we encourage you to apply at goo.gl/tTkW52 before 31st December, 2016.


Minimum qualifications:
  • Have authorisation to work in the United Kingdom
  • A Levels (or equivalent) at grade B or above (or equivalent) in Math or Science related subjects
  • Ability to speak and write in English fluently and idiomatically
  • Prior coding experience in any programming language
For any questions, please email us at apprenticeship.lon@google.com.

Posted by the Tech Student Development team