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 (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.