Prior to the first day of my Princeternship, my host, Suzanne Spence (Sociology ’04) put several events on my Google calendar so I would have a sense of what to expect during my two days at Google. On Wednesday morning, I arrived at the Google office in New York City after a commute of an hour and a half from Princeton Junction. After meeting Suzanne, I was introduced to Meggie, who was scheduled to give me a tour of the Google office. Meggie is an Account Executive from the Advertising Department.
Google’s New York City office actually encompasses two buildings. One building was purchased (entirely) by the company a few years ago and is now undergoing a transition period. Companies that previously bought space in the building are gradually moving out as their leases expire and Google is converting more and more of the building to space for its employees. The other building sits across the street, right above Chelsea Market, and houses most of the Advertising division. I spent roughly the same amount of time in each building.
During the tour of Google, a couple things stood out for me. Employees’ workspaces were colorful and decorated. There were stuffed animals on people’s desks, decorations hanging from the ceiling, life-size models of TV characters, and other personal touches. On one table, there was a Lego model of a QR code that at one point actually worked. Many hallways were lined with a row of scooters and exercise balls.
It was also clear that Google cares about the wellbeing of its employees. I learned about the informal “150 feet rule:” Google believes that at no point should an employee be more than 150 feet away from food. Between the two buildings, there are a couple of cafeterias where employees take their meals. On each floor, there are a few micro-kitchens were employees can go anytime for coffee, drinks, and an assortment of healthy snacks (nuts, trail mix, fruit).
Towards the end of my tour, Meggie told me more about her role at Google. She is an Account Executive who works with Google’s clients to identify which Google products would work best for them. She works in Entertainment (Account Executives also work in Education, Travel, and a variety of other industries), so her clients were TV stations and production companies.
Afterwards, I had lunch with a few other employees and sat in on two meetings. At both meetings, employees converged in a room that was reserved beforehand and was equipped with a large monitor. The meetings were then conducted via video, with the same technology found in Google Hangout. These sessions provided Googlers from different offices a way to collaborate conveniently.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
On the second day of my Princeternship, I met with five different Googlers and attended a speaker event.
I first met with Ari, who works in the Creative department at Google, which is nicknamed The Zoo. A lot of her work encompasses YouTube advertising campaigns. She showed me a couple examples of recent projects, including a YouTube channel that is sponsored by Dodge Durango that featured Super Bowl ads on the day of the game. Ari said that within The Zoo, there are a variety of positions – some do the more technical and artistic work while others are consultants or work directly with customers.
Next, I met with Lauren, who works in Advertising. She was also a Princeton alumna and we spent a good deal of time talking about how Princeton and Google are alike in many ways – both provide lots of resources for their students/ employees and encourage people to do things other than work. Outside of her work at Google, Lauren also manages a professional orchestra, and felt it very important that her job also let her pursue her passions.
Before going to lunch with Suzanne, I had a chat with Pit, who does Analytics for the Education department. Most of his customers are various colleges and schools. We talked a lot about the advantages and disadvantages of working at a big company like Google. While it’s easy to see why working at Google would have many plusses, being at a small company or startup gives people the opportunity to do a greater range of things and master more skills quickly.
After lunch, I met with Jon, who works on Invite Media. His work involved Google technologies that allow businesses to buy ad space on websites efficiently. He talked about how Google has tools that allow businesses to target specific groups of consumers in their ads. For instance, after visiting a certain website, viewers might see ads around the Internet that feature that website or related sites.
After meeting with Jon, Suzanne and I attended an event that was part of Techtalk, a series of lectures where Google invites outside speakers. This time, the guests were James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, and their presentation was on their Delancey Underground project. In an effort to bring more green space into New York City, they hoped to convert the abandoned underground trolley terminal beneath Delancey Street into an indoor park. One of the most interesting technological aspects of their project was their plan to filter natural sunlight into the underground park using fiber optics.
My last meeting of the day was with Beth, who works in Marketing. Having done a marketing internship last summer, I shared many of her interests. We talked a lot about career paths for people who like advertising and marketing. Beth, like Pit, also pointed out the advantages of working at a smaller company or advertising firm, where each individual employee worked on “smaller” projects (than the campaigns Google does) but took more ownership and had more control in the projects.
Overall, my Princeternship experience was very rewarding and taught me a lot not just about the company, but also possible career paths for someone interested in advertising and marketing.