David Zhao ’15, Spry, Inc.

My fellow Princeterns and I arrived at Spry Incorporated not quite sure what to expect from our three day stay. We had read the materials the company had sent us and we had combed through its website, but what Spry actually did was still not quite clear. However, once we met Spry CEO Brooke Stevenson ‘01, the Princeton alum who brought us out to Maryland, she showed us around the office and fully elucidated the company’s field of work. Spry endeavors to allow client companies and corporations to easily search their data by connecting their individual databases that are often disjointed and inflexible. As she duly noted, scattered data precludes any attempts at a thorough analysis, preventing a company from making important and pivotal decisions in this fast-paced world that waits for no one. At the heart of their approach is the use of ontologies to organize the data. This kind of semantic architecture emphasizes the relationships between information, making it easier to query for the desired answers. An equally important aspect of Spry is their agile approach to development. Instead of the traditional waterfall approach where a company releases a single end-product after completing development, Spry espouses an agile scheme that allows them to not only quickly turn over a working intermediate product, but also show clients realized value. The incremental releases allow Spry to easily meet the ever-changing needs of its clients.

We quickly realized that this Princeternship was not going to be the typical shadowing opportunity. Instead, it was going to be much better. Usually, it seems that those who shadow are given tasks that are either menial or boring, but Spry was going to give us a crash course on semantic and query languages so that we could develop a solution to an existing problem. This was both exciting and refreshing; we were tackling an issue that no one else had ever solved. After learning Turtle (Terse RDF Triple Language) to write ontologies and SPARQL (SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language) to write queries, we wrote a user-customizable query creator in MDQO (Model Drive Query Ontology) that Spry will continue to improve.

Spry Incorporated has a casual dress code that many tech startups often have, but it also has a lively and enjoyable atmosphere that may not necessarily reside in companies of any size. The employees feel comfortable bouncing ideas around daily progress off their coworkers, regardless of their seniority at the company. Spry thrives on this mutual assistance attitude that naturally manifests itself.

Spry Staff, David, and fellow Princeterns

This Princeternship let me explore the new and constantly-changing field of analytics. Perhaps the most profound discovery was that this sort of job exists. It is filling a much-needed role in the relentlessly-expanding global data paradigm. The most valuable knowledge I gained is that, according to many of the employees with whom we spoke, learning how to learn in college is the most important thing to take away from those four years. Although the actual material of academic courses is definitely important, the ability to problem-solve proved to be the most helpful skill from college in their daily projects.

I would like to thank Brooke, Meg, Christina, and the rest of the Spry team for their immense help and support during the Princeternship. They really made the three days stimulating and pleasant. I would definitely recommend this Princeternship to other students, because I gained valuable insight into my future plans. This experience has encouraged me to consider analytics as a possible career path. For that, I am also grateful to Career Services for offering this program.

Alex (Li) Zhao ’15, Juniper Networks

It was an unusually cold and dark morning; although that was probably because I hadn’t woken up that early in a while. I took the train to downtown Manhattan and walked to the Starbucks at 35th and 8th, where I found a man in an orange shirt with a beaming smile. My host was Hal Stern ‘84, Chief Architect for the Developer Business Unit of Juniper Networks. After brief introductions, we started immediately; Mr. Stern gave me an overview of his company as well as a crash course in computer networks. It was a field that I was rather unversed in, but as I soon found out, had everything to do with my interest in computer science and technology.

We first visited Christian Martin, a network modeling and simulation expert. In addition to enlightening me on computer networks, he also gave me a great amount of advice about college. The point that struck me the most, however, was his emphasis on the importance of “learning how to learn.” My host himself was a testament to that statement as he had only dived into networking rather recently. But with a strong background in Computer Science and the skills acquired at Princeton, that transition was made much more manageable.

I had spoken to Mr. Stern about my interest in startups, so he introduced me to two companies he was currently involved with. We had lunch with Campbell McKellar, the founder of Loosecubes. Her site was designed to “connect people who have great workspace with people who need it.” Listening to her speak really brought to life the numerous, frustrating challenges every startup faces as well as the even greater pride in overcoming those challenges. After having explored her site and listening to her talk, I became very interested in the concept of “co-working” and offered to intern at her office for a week, a proposition she happily agreed to.

For our last stop, we visited Hotlist, a social network/event coordinating site, located in what may very well be the coolest studio-turned-office space in SoHo. We spoke with Gianni Martire, the co-founder of Hotlist, who gave me invaluable advice on entrepreneurship and the tech-world in general. His excitement and passion for his work rubbed off on me, as I left fully convinced that I want to work at a startup after graduating.

Throughout the day, Mr. Stern and I talked about everything we found interesting; some was informative, others less relevant, but nonetheless extremely interesting. Although it was but just a day in New York, it was quite the day. Having the opportunity to meet such interesting and knowledgeable individuals was an invaluable experience and introduced me to a much larger world outside the Orange Bubble.

Trap Yates ’14, Google

Clutching my piping hot coffee, I peered out of the Starbucks, straining to see the far end of the building that dominated the entirety of the block across the street. From my perspective it was impossible to do so, creating the illusion that the structure went on forever. This perception was obviously misleading. The edifice that houses Google’s New York office, the company’s second largest, is not infinite, merely massive. After spending a day with Googlers in the office, however, I’m not so sure the same clarification can be made regarding the ambitions, and the potential, of the company they comprise.

In the years since its foundation, Google has turned a kooky numerical value into a household word. As such, I was clearly aware of the company’s importance as I undertook the day’s adventures, but the point was merely hammered home as Seyi, the other Princetern, and I stepped off the elevator to find ourselves caught up in packs of tourists applying their visitor pass stickers. Combined with the sight of employees zooming by on scooters, being with my fellow visitors ratcheted up my excitement several notches. I felt I’d stepped into one of the coolest places to work in the world. I don’t think I was wrong.

Raj Hathiramani ’07 was our host for the day, which began with a brief look around a few floors of the office. The Google workspace is in of itself a work of art. Open and free flowing, it makes the most out of the unique architecture of its space, which used to be home to the Port Authority. As Raj pointed out, very few of Google’s employees have closed offices, and truly opaque doors are almost nonexistent. It is truly a communal workspace, conducive to interaction, cooperation, and lots of hard work. This atmosphere is intensified by the regular presence of incredibly well stocked snack bars and lounge areas, complete with professional grade espresso machines, for which there is an introductory operating class. The first of these areas that we walked through has more Legos than I have ever seen in my life, and colorful toys and games are a ubiquitous presence around the office. Even though I didn’t actually see any Googlers playing with them, by their very presence they lightened the mood of the space, suffusing it with a liveliness that seemed to make its way into all of the bustling employees.

After our brief look around, we sat in one of these community spaces to chat a bit more about Raj’s position within Google’s Sales Analytics department. Particularly fascinating was his explanation of AdWords, a product I knew very little about. Seeing the inside workings of AdWords gave me a new appreciation for the technology I take for granted, and the ways in which my jumps around the internet are quantified, noted, and then used to optimize my advertising experience, both while searching Google and while perusing more generally. The general Internet advertising market is poised for explosive growth, much of which is being spurred by the work taking place at Google. Raj discussed these developments, as well as his role in a small global team that conducts revenue analysis and optimization for the display business, formulating recommendations for sales and product teams based on their findings.

This team-focus was also a theme of the day, as we met with several of Raj’s co-workers to discuss their roles in Google. The first such meeting of the day was with Lauren Carpenter ’06, a Senior Account Manager who works with display ads, which include the fun banners that you may have seen above YouTube videos. Lauren spoke to us a bit about how she pitches display ads, strategies she uses to build client relationships, how her Princeton experience has informed and contributed to her work at Google, and why the orchestra she runs and plays in outside of work is named after King Herod’s daughter. It was the first of what would prove to be several engaging, informative encounters with Googlers.

The second was with Jesse, an Account Director at invitemedia, an organization Google recently acquired.  He was able to talk to us about some of the challenges of creating and running a start-up, a process he has been intimately involved with several times, and some of the details of display-ad trading. The easiest translation he made for my layman’s ear was that display ads can be traded much like stocks, and that his particular work has been in inventing and polishing systems whereby this trading takes place. It was very cutting-edge stuff, and was another terrific opportunity to glance behind the curtain of Oz.

After these meetings and a bit of general question time with Raj, we headed to Google’s cafeteria for lunch. I was in no way prepared for the bountiful cornucopia of delectable edibles that awaited me, and I think an employee or two actually confused my eyes for the cafeteria’s plates as I ogled at the plentiful options. To avoid too extensive a reverie, it will suffice to say lunch was delicious. We were also able to chat with Raj a bit more about his Princeton experience, including his time as an RCA and with Naacho, his international job experience, and his Ironman training. I found out later that he was literally a legendary RCA, and the description for his old room in Walker mentions him specifically as one of the room’s greatest residents: quite an inspirational figure for a bushy-tailed Princeton sophomore.

From lunch we surveyed a bit more of the office while continuing our discussion, including a jaunt to a digital library that may have been the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. The entire wall is a screen depicting a circular bookcase, which one rotates with a simple wave of your hand along the screen’s surface. Select a book, and settle in. There were also nap-pods behind the shelves, although evidently for lighting, noise, and heat reasons they are inferior to the napping stations that are installed a bit higher in the building. This kind of delicate, detail-oriented care for employee wellness amazed me throughout the day, and I wouldn’t hate to see some of these elements adopted in areas around campus, for instance, in my common room.

We had a chance to look at the engineering side of things when we met with Michael Schidlowsky ‘01 who works on Google Docs. Although some of the technical things he went into were somewhat over my head, he presented us with a fresh perspective on Google, and the ways in which a Princeton education can impact work experience. He also proved to be a font of general advice, some of which I have already taken, and more of which I intend to pursue in the futureTo wrap up the day, we met with Arnaud, who works with Google.org, the nonprofit arm of Google that manages a fairly huge amount of non-profit work. I had no idea what Google.org was until doing a bit of research on Google for this Princeternship, and I was fascinated to hear more about the kind of support Google has for nonprofits, as well as its own programs. It is definitely a resource that I will be keeping in mind as I consider work in a nonprofit sector.

And with that our day at Google wound to a close. It was a fairly revelatory experience, and one I am incredibly thankful to have had. It was further confirmation that the sort of skills we learn here at Princeton, and particularly those acquired outside of class, can be put to use in a business setting. Google is exactly the kind of casual but hard-working environment I find myself drawn to and inspired by, and being surrounded by thousands of motivated, dedicated people going about their work was an invigorating experience, providing just that extra bit of motivation to get through the finals grind.

Catherine Wu ’15, AngelBeat

I arrived in the quaint town of Roslyn, New York on Tuesday afternoon. Angelbeat is a small company based out of CEO Ron Gerber ‘82’s house. He told me the story of Jetblue, the airline company known for its generous leg room, and how it has no central headquarters. While Jetblue is based in New York, it hires people (mainly housewives) from all over the US for customer service. There is no need to invest in a centralized building; instead, they invest in technology that efficiently directs calls to the general customer service line to these employees all over the country. Not only is it cheaper in the long run, but it’s also more convenient for the employees because they can work at home, and Jetblue can hire a larger range of people without being constricted to the local vicinity.

Angelbeat is run in a similar way with Ron and 5 other employees from all over the US. As he put it, Ron is a “high-tech party planner.” In fact, if you’re interested, here’s a link to the itinerary of an upcoming event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.http://www.angelbeat.com/events/418/

So what does a day in the life of CEO Ron Gerber ’82 look like?
As the main employee of an entire company, he spends a lot of his time dealing with the nitty gritty details to make sure his events go smoothly. A lot of his day is dedicated to personally calling people from the enormous database he has compiled of relevant professionals from all over the country. Communication is essential in this job; being able to sell his events to these people and convince them to come is the premise of his job. Because his job relies so much on these phone calls, my days mainly consisted of listening in on Ron’s phone calls and seeing how he dealt with customers on a daily basis, picking up interesting tips and tidbits.

Ron Gerber and Catherine

That is what Ron does on a daily basis. As for me, the intern, I actually got to help Ron start planning his cyberbullying workshop. With the recent tragedies regarding cyber bullying primarily over social networks like Facebook, parents are without a doubt worried about their child’s safety. Thus, he plans to hold these events and bring representatives from Facebook and the local Attorney General to come talk about what they are doing to address this danger. He plans to hold one in NYC and if all goes well, another one in the San Francisco Bay Area near Facebook’s headquarters (also known as my hometown)

The first step is to reach the right people. One of Ron’s strategies is to contact schools in the area and have them advertise the workshop. Not only would parents be more receptive to a workshop recommended by the school rather than a random startup, but the school would know the best way to pass along the information to parents. Thus, my task was to start compiling a database of contact information for school authorities, the “cyberbullying workshop equivalent” of his regular database for IT events. I would visit school websites and sleuth around, looking for the contact information for the PTA (ideally), the principal, the Director of Technology, the Director of Communications, the local school board, or anyone who seemed pertinent. The more contacts, the more likely you’ll find the right person to talk to about this event. By the end of my time at Angelbeat, I became quite adept at finding relevant contact information; in fact, I finished entering all the private schools in NYC and most of the schools in the Bay Area!

Overall, I learned a lot and had a fun time. Ron was really nice and helpful, making sure all my (many) questions were answered and giving me good future career advice. I listened in on all his conversations as I compiled the database of school contacts, and he made sure to explain what he was doing and why he was doing it. I witnessed firsthand what Ron does every day and how small startups like Angelbeat worked. It was really interesting and I loved the experiencing the real work world!

On a side note, after each work day was over, I got to play with Ron’s children and watch their kiddie shows (Pokemon is my guilty pleasure).

Brendan Wright ’15, RedVision

My Princeternship was hosted by Joe Ross ‘97, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of RedVision.  RedVision provides “Real Property Research solutions”, including title searches.  This information is needed whenever properties are sold.  Banks need to know the details of any mortgage on the property, as well as other financial documents (home equity loans, car loans gone awry, etc.) that are tied to the property.  These documents are stored in filing cabinets scattered in municipalities across the country, making the search process tedious and time-consuming.  That’s where RedVision comes in.  They have been working for years to make these documents available online in a searchable format.

I spent most of my day with Antony Karounis (Technical Director, Plant Data Technologies).  He introduced me to everyone in the software engineering department before explaining the problem in the title search market that RedVision aims to solve.  He also explained agile software development.  On a basic level, agile consists of 2-4 week “sprints” where developers try to accomplish assigned tasks.  These tasks are chosen in a pre-sprint meeting from a backlog of all tasks that the group plans to address eventually.  The group reconvenes post-sprint to decide if the sprint was a success or a failure, and to identify areas for improvement.

Before lunch, I had the chance to observe one of the pre-sprint meetings.  Much of it was over my head, as I had only a basic understanding of the company–not an in-depth understanding of their products, the bugs therein, and the acronyms they used on a daily basis.  That being said, it was certainly worthwhile to see the approach Mr. Karounis used to coordinate the group.  I’ve only worked on small projects with at most a couple of friends, so I’d never really thought about the procedures required to coordinate a larger group on a project that has been ongoing for years.

Brendan and Joe Ross

Mr. Karounis treated me to lunch at an Indian buffet with about 8 other employees (including most of the developers).  I exchanged stories about Princeton with two of the employees who had graduated just last year.  Our conversation continued upon returning to the office, where they told me about their roles in the company, why they’d chosen to work there, and how they had been very surprised to see each other when they both started work at RedVision on the same day.  They also gave me some school-based advice, such as how they’d chosen their majors (both computer science) and which courses they recommended.

Next, I met with two employees who had been at RedVision for a few years.  We talked mostly about what they liked and disliked about the programming industry in general.  The group that had met in the morning then reassembled to reflect on the sprint that had just ended.  This was similar to the morning session for me: it was very technical, but provided insight into the agile development process.

Finally, I met with Mr. Ross to discuss RedVision’s history and his career path.  We also chatted about Princeton, and how much it had changed since his graduation.  After snapping a few photos for the blog, Mr. Karounis gave me a ride to the bus stop, where I began the lengthy commute from Parsippany to Princeton, arriving just in time to catch dinner with two minutes to spare.

Judy (Zhuyi) Sun ’14, Google

For my Princeternship at Google in NYC, I was hosted by Raj Hathiramani ’07, and visited with another Princtern, Brandon Rhodes ‘14.  During our Princeternship we were given the opportunity to meet employees in various departments and hear their perspectives and roles at Google. I had the chance to meet employees in industries ranging from advertising to engineering to financial analysis to community service.

First, I met Andrew, who was in sales as a display real-time bidding sales account executive. He had a very unconventional path to Google, where he was actually hired for an advertising startup that was bought by Google. Before getting into the nitty-gritty of what he actually does, he gave me a brief overview of the industry. Originally, advertising happened between companies, but there were only so many lunches and calls one can schedule in a day – there was a limit on time. So came the middle man. The middle man, the advertising companies, started to gain ground by being the sole contact to the publishing companies, which solves the issue with time, but the companies would never knew how much profit the middle man was making. Now Andrew’s team eliminates the middle man to cut costs for the companies. He works with the real-time bidding sales, essentially the stock market of advertising, really interesting stuff!  After this conversation our alum Raj talked to us more about advertising – the schematics of it really: cost per click, per impression, per action – and how he works in revenue analysis for many different projects at Google.

I also briefly met Arnaud, the project manager for google.org, the sector of Google that works with nonprofits and community service. He describes his job in three metaphors. Being a project manager is like being a shrink, having to be the bridge between different people and differing opinions. It’s also like being a head coach, gaining respect from the players and puppeteering the situation from behind the scenes. It’s also like being a movie director, taking resources and creating a product from those resources, as well as knowing when creativity is effective and when it is detrimental. 

Lastly, I met Manja, a software engineer of Google – one of the better known positions. He works in the more geo/local aspects (ie. Google Maps). Manja talked more about his past and current projects. For example, he worked on the new release on Google Maps Restaurants. When you look on your Android phone for restaurants, you can now see a string of words directly under the basic information (ie. long lines (dot) food network (dot) ravioli (dot) butternut squash soup). This tells you the key words and phrases that show up in reviews, which saves a lot of Yelp scrolling and reading time, so thank Manja!

Judy at Google!

The culture and environment at Google was amazing; I really do see why people say it is the “Best Place to Work.” There was a game room with video games, ping pong, gym equipment, foosball, and a pool table; snack stations every few feet; three (free and ridiculously good) cafeterias; lots of lounging room for relaxing or even meetings with coworkers. The people are very happy so therefore work efficiently; Google got it down! I learned so much on this trip. For those ORFE majors not interested in Wall St, it was exciting to see other paths! It’s now that I realize exactly how applicable ORFE is to any industry, and I need not box myself in and just look at opportunities in finance. It was definitely an eye-opening experience; I had no idea that Google NYC was so big and had so many non-technical positions. I definitely recommend Princeternship for anyone who’s curious about an industry, especially as a viable future career path.

Erica Portnoy ’15, Juniper Networks

It’s nine o’clock on a Friday, Guillaume and I shuffled in…
…to the Starbucks in New York City where we met with Hal Stern, our Princeternship host. (My apologies to Billy Joel.) There, we spent some time introducing ourselves and discussing the technical challenges involved in network operations.

We then walked over to the Juniper Networks offices in NYC to meet with one of Mr. Stern’s coworkers. Our discussion at Juniper was less technical, ranging from stock dilution to evaluating the benefits of working for a company that allows you to travel before you are tied down by family obligations. I gained valuable insight into the world of tech startups, and how regularly the process of mergers and acquisitions occurs.

Hal Stern, Erica, and fellow Princetern Guillaume

 

Down in SoHo, we met with another acquaintance of Mr. Stern’s, the founder of the “figure out what to do” website, hotlist. He explained, based on his experience, what it takes to found and maintain a successful startup, including how to choose a business partner, the merits of failing, and how to respond to user interests. Overall, I gained valuable insight into the world of technology businesses that I might never have had the chance to encounter otherwise before being plunged directly in during a full-blown internship or full-time position. This gave me the chance to experience it for myself, in order to help me evaluate better where I would like to eventually fit in. My Princeternship was a wonderful experience, and I strongly recommend the experience.

Wendy Pan ’14, Google

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

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

Suzanne Spence and Wendy

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.

Seyi Lawal ’15, Google

My day as a Princetern started off with a train ride to New York City and a short walk over to Google’s New York headquarters. There, I met my alumni host, Raj Hathiramani, a 2007 Princeton graduate.I was immediately taken with the environment at Google. Despite all of the work that I knew to be going on there, Google was relaxed and welcoming. A few hours into my day, it stopped being odd seeing employees whizzing down the hallways on Google scooters, or people getting from one floor to another by climbing a ladder or sliding down a fire pole. Dress was quite casual, which further contributed to the relaxed atmosphere.

My alumni host took me on a tour of the building, showing me where employees in different divisions of Google worked, and other cool areas of his work place, including the game room, nap locations, a virtual library, and massage rooms. I also noticed that the very open environment at Google was reflected in the design of the work place. There were very few closed doors, actually very few doors in general, in the workspace. Employees worked in groups, where every group member was in the same location, and worked in adjoining spaces, in order to foster a collaborative environment. It also seemed like Google really valued its employees and took great care to ensure that all of their needs were taken care of, so that all they had to do was be creative, innovative, and get work done. From my discussions with my alumni host, and other Googlers, I learned how true this was.

Raj and I then had a conversation about what exactly he does at Google. Raj works as an analyst in display advertising. Basically, he helps enable optimal selling of display ads that you see on Google search engines and Google owned pages. He explained a system called Google AdWords, which offers ad spaces to businesses and corporations. As an analyst, Raj also works to model revenue from new products and allocate resources based on profitability metrics to prioritize strategic investments. He works closely with the product and engineering teams as well on efficient data infrastructure in order to maximize gains for both Google and its customers. Besides telling me about his main work and answering any and all questions I had, Raj also told me about Google’s “20-percent-time.” Google allows, no encourages, its engineers to spend 20% of their time at work on any project or idea they are passionate about, that is in any way related to Google. As a Princeton Alum, Raj had considered the idea of bringing language tables to Google, since there were many Googlers who wanted to learn new languages, and plenty of languages are represented in this workplace. Raj also spoke to me about his time at Princeton, and compared the environment at Google to that of Princeton, saying that everything that you need to thrive at both locations is given to you. Surprisingly I learned that not only did Raj and I live in the same residential college, I also am currently living in the same room he lived in when he was an RCA!

After describing more about his job, Raj took me to meet four other Googlers who worked on display entertainment sales,invite media sales, as a Google Docs engineer, and on google.org (the branch of Google that is for nonprofits and works with crisis response and disaster aid). Through my discussions with each one of them, I noticed common themes of creativity, team based work, and a satisfaction with the work they were doing. They all had lives outside of Google, and noted that work at Google fits with their lives, and doesn’t take it over. Mike, the Google Docs engineer, told me that many employees set their own work times, sometimes choosing to work from home on some days. One thing Mike said that really stood out to me was that, even though Google is this huge business, to him, it still felt like a small company.

Seyi and fellow Princetern Trap

As a freshman, I came into this Princeternship hoping to just gain some insight into a career field I could possibly see myself pursuing. I was so grateful that Raj, my host, took me to meet with Googlers in other fields so I could get a sense of some of the other capacities in which one can work at Google. My experience at Google, and what I learned from speaking with some of the employees there, is actually causing me to consider a major change, as I saw a field I can truly see myself working in. Google is an awesome place, and I strongly encourage other students to consider going on this Princeternship. It was an eye-opening experience for me and can give you knowledge about a variety of different career paths. I am truly thankful to Raj for taking the time out of his busy work schedule to give me this wonderful opportunity, and to all of the amazing people I met and spoke with during my Princeternship.

 

Guillaume Delepine ’14, Juniper Networks

I originally signed up for the Princeternship program because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had done a lot of biology/medical things in high school, but then got to Princeton and realized there were so many more options here. The Princeternship gave me a preview of where the engineering track would take me after graduation. I was not even necessarily interested in a particular career at this point, I just wanted a sense of the industry.

I got really lucky to have Hal as my Alumnus. Erica (another first year) and I, found that Hal went out of his way to make our experience a good one. We met him in a New York coffee shop, where he explained what he does and where he thinks Juniper and the high-tech industry are headed. We got a rudimentary introduction to networking and a fundamental education on the company we were going to be shadowing and meeting people from all day.

Hal Stern, fellow Princetern Erica, and Guillaume

We next went to the New York office of Juniper Networks (Hal normally works at the one in Bridgewater). After looking around the office for a while and chatting with some of his co-workers, we went to another meeting Hal had arranged – with Gianni Martire, co-founder of Hotlist.com. We talked over lunch, which we were treated to! Everyone who spoke with us was really outgoing and helpful. At the end of our experience, we connected with wonderful alumni who will likely serve as mentors in the future!