As I sit back against the pillow in my drawing room, sipping some freshly prepared coffee and typing furiously on my laptop, it is inevitable to look back at the past eleven weeks with awe and wonder how quickly life has transitioned in the last few days. I was at the Google Hyderabad office as a Software Engineering intern from 8th May to 21st July 2017, and this post seeks to recount my experience in fresh ink and cement the relevant neural connections in my head for a long time.
Read on if you are on the brink of an internship season yourself, or are considering Google India as a potential employer, or are just curious about the adventures of a 21 year old at a tech giant. Or if you just seem to think that my writing might interest you.
Now that we have your motivations and my aims for this post sorted, let’s jump into the details. First of all, how did I get there?
Part I : Opening Credits (Selection)
Google India appeared as an internship recruiter in the second half of August 2016. I hadn’t applied to any other company for an internship, but I decided to give Google a shot.
After all, it’s Google, is what I thought.
The first phase was resume selection, which I cleared along with another batchmate of mine (there were others who cleared it as well, but had committed to other companies by then). After a silence spanning a couple of weeks, we got a call for scheduling our technical interviews, which we did. There were two interviews, taken by different engineers (for me, one was from Bangalore and the other from Hyderabad), each running up to three quarters of an hour. That was the good part.
They were scheduled one after the other. That was the scary part.
My first interview was just okay, the second was good, and the verdict was positive (why else would I be writing this). I received a mail regarding my team and location in March, and I was all set for departure in early May.
Now that we have the prologue out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the story.
Part II : The Helicopter (First Days)
Google’s travel and accommodation arrangements for the interns were near perfect. I had no hassles anywhere from boarding my flight to finding my cab in Hyderabad, and our residence was top notch as well — Ibis Hotel. We had a complimentary dinner at the hotel everyday, and all meals complimentary on weekends. Our commute to and from office was also taken care of by Google.
If I had any concerns about Hyderabad, they were eliminated in the first few weekends — the city offers a plethora of options to have a good time at and relax, ranging from the magnificent Golconda Fort and the serene lakes (Hussain Sagar) to the numerous pubs and restaurants with live shows and delicious food flowing through.
With all that settled, I set out for office on the first day for the orientation. We had an office tour and a gentle introduction to Google Hyderabad, and by the end of the day, I knew many of my fellow interns and had a colorful cap crowning my head with the wings of a helicopter adorning the top of it. Yeah, that was the Noogler cap.
“Woohoo”, the Internship had begun.
Part III : The Army (Project, Team and Office)
I had joined the Google Apps team, and to be more specific, the Mobile Device Management (MDM) team. The first few days were spent getting familiar with Google’s internal tools, letting out sighs of “woah!” every now and then at the utter simplicity of using them. I was introduced to my life’s purpose at the office on the fourth day, when I got to know what my project would entail. Most of the projects involve building software solutions to customer or enterprise problems that Google deals with, and are significantly different from the ones that a person would expect in a research internship.
And then I got working. I was fortunate to be interning at a team that was at once big and yet treated the interns as family. My team members were cooperative and helpful, smart yet humble, sincere yet playful. My host and cohost formed a formidable pair, one comfortable with the overall picture of my project and pulling the strings from above, and the other more involved with the fine grained details of the implementation. Pretty soon, I felt comfortable at the office, and found myself engrossed in my work.
The work culture at Google slowly unraveled itself, and I liked it the more I saw it. People believe in getting the job done, having a lot of fun and making friends along the way. Innovation is rewarded, and mutual respect is the norm. I enjoyed playing cricket with my team lead in an internal cricket league, relished the opportunity to be taught table tennis by someone I barely knew in office, and enjoyed having lunch with a total stranger and talking through a myriad of topics. The office timings are not constrained by factors other than the availability of one’s collaborators, and the dress code is whatever suits you (and is followed religiously). It is perfectly normal to use the bunker beds in case one doesn’t feel up to the mark, and get up rejuvenated for work.
Google lets nothing come in the way of work. Feeling out of shape? Join the gym. Want some pressure up your body? Go for the massage. Don’t feel well? There’s a medical room to take care of that. Want some energy quickly? Take a sip from the delicious coffee being made at the first floor. Feeling hungry but dinner is an hour away? Cook some maggi or make a sandwich at one of the many microkitchens. Every need (almost) has its fulfillment to be found at the office, one just needs to be inquisitive enough.
Part IV : The Navy (Co interns and social events)
Relationships forged while on an internship are unique. The friends you make at such a place are as close in desires and skills to yourself as one might get at this stage of life, and yet the differences are what makes you feel unique and gel in well with everyone else. Our group of about twenty interns gradually became a closely knit community, and our escapades both inside and outside office helped us know each other better and form relationships that might live on for a long time.
The Google intern team also did its job to get us to meet eminent people at our office (like the site lead at Hyderabad) as well as help us discover opportunities to develop our skills (workshops on various technical and non technical areas of development). We had an intern offsite as well (a trip to Wonderla :-)).
One of the most interesting parts of our internship was a Hyderabad tech intern meetup organised by Google, wherein many tech interns in the city were invited to the Google office for exploration and networking. A significant portion of the planning and execution of the event was done with help from the interns themselves, which gave us the liberty to shape the networking and the fun sessions the way we wanted.
We were also fortunate to be interning at a time when Google’s volunteering initiatives were at full force. I went to one of the gServe sessions, and taught primary school kids about the solar system though a virtual reality experience.
Part V : Aggressive Expansion (Growth and learning opportunities)
The coolest thing about Google is not the office. Not the food. Probably not even the work. To me, it is the people and the opportunities for growth. One might be working in any team or product area, but he would always have full access to the learning opportunities at Google.
During my internship, I participated in a hackathon, completed a code retreat, did a crash course, watched numerous research talks and seminars, peered at codebases written by employees sitting thousands of miles away, and played around with upcoming products at ease. All this was possible because of Google’s focus on personal growth and transparency. I could contact anyone, anywhere else at Google regarding their work and could expect a reply. I made friends in the Bangalore and the Mountain View office (Google Brain), because of my interest in their work and Google’s open culture.
My learning was restricted not only to work, as I practised coming out of my personal shell repeatedly to schedule meetings with people I found interesting and to talk about areas I felt could shape the future. And as is expected, almost everyone is comfortable talking about their work and sharing their philosophy, which works out beautifully for a curious soul. As a sidenote, I improved my game of table tennis over the duration of my internship as well!
Part VI : Closing Credits
So, verdict? I would suggest anyone who is looking for a software engineering internship to consider Google as a potential option. The experience will have a lasting impact on your perspectives of life and career choices. And if your work stimulates you, that is an added bonus!