Applying to Google: #WomeninTech, Creating an Inclusive Environment in Technology

Applying to Google: #WomeninTech, Creating an Inclusive Environment in Technology


AMY LIONEL: Welcome, everyone,
to the YouTube live series called “Women in Tech, Creating
an Inclusive Environment.” My name’s Amy Lynam, and I’m
a Tech University Program Specialist based in
Chicago, focusing on growing tech talent here at Google. Today I’m welcomed by two
Google software engineers who are going to speak about
their roles, how they got started in tech, combating
imposter syndrome, and what diversity and
inclusiveness at Google means to them. Our chat moderators
will be answering your questions via
the chat window throughout the presentation. And then we’ll
finish off with Q&A and answer some questions from
our live audience listening in. So to start, let’s have our
panelists introduce themselves. HEATHER CIECHOWSKI:
Hi, my name’s Heather. I’m a SWE here– I’m sorry,
Software Engineer here in Mountain View. I’ve been at Google a
little over two years now. Unfortunately, I
can’t disclose much about the project I’m
currently working on. But I can say it’s in the smart
building technology space. I previously worked on
Data Center Software which is a team that maintains
and deploys different software components of our data centers. SARAH JUNDT: Hi, everyone. My name is Sarah. And I’m a Software Engineer
on YouTube Kids, which is an app that helps kids
safely and creatively engage with YouTube content. And I work in San Bruno. And I’ve been here at
Google for about a year. AMY LYNAM: So to kick
off, could both of you speak a little bit to what is
your typical work day like? HEATHER CIECHOWSKI: OK. No day’s typical around here. I’m a morning person, so
I like avoiding traffic. So I usually come
in around 6:00 AM, and then I’ll leave
around 2:30 or 3:00. I usually have breakfast
and lunch with my teammates. Or sometimes I’ll
meet up with a friend and go got and grab
lunch at a different cafe to mix things up. Pretty much every
couple hours at Google is punctuated by food. So I like to spend
the part of my day before lunch just really
heads-down, focused on writing code, or researching
design implementation or something I’m working on. After lunch, I might be
doing any number of things, depending on the day. I could collaborate with
other engineers in a meeting. Or most of the time, we just
spitball ideas at our desk. I might do some code reviews
or attend a TechTalk. Or Google has a zillion
different classes going on, so I might go to one of those. Or if I had a really
productive morning, sometimes I’ll just call
it a day and leave early. AMY LYNAM: Awesome. SARAH JUNDT: And my day
isn’t too different. I live in San Francisco and
have about a 45-minute commute. And so I’ll come in. I’ll get on the bus. Google has free buses
from San Francisco. And so I’ll get on the
bus and work on the bus, arrive around 9:00,
have some breakfast, and then head over to
my desk with my team, and hang out with them,
code a little bit. Sometimes I’ll have a meeting. We’ll have a stand-up
or a design review where we’ll get
together and we’ll collaborate on the designs
that we have for products we have moving forward. I’ll get together with
teammates for lunch. And then usually I’m
coding most of the day. AMY LYNAM: Awesome. Now that we’ve learned a little
bit more about our panelists, let’s discuss the
importance of women in tech. So my daughter was
10 years old when she told me she hated computers. Our current CEO of
YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, stated that for someone who
has spent their life working to build one of the biggest
tech companies in the world, she was shocked to
hear the statement from her own daughter. Sad truth is that gender
stereotypes develop early, and research has shown that both
boys and girls more associate boys to being better
at subjects like math. Unfortunately, these attitudes
are reconfirmed and expand into other fields within
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
through toys, marking, parental attitudes, and media. Now when we look at
the story in numbers, girls start out with a love
of science and technology. But by high school,
less than 1% of girls study computer science. Unless we invest in
education and exposure to technology early,
we really risk widening the socioeconomic
gap and losing valuable contributions
from women in every field. So why is gender diversity
in the workplace important? Because women are awesome. But if you need more
evidence than that, there are a couple of
things I want to point out. According to research
conducted at McKinsey, companies with a
higher proportion of women in their top
management have a better financial performance. Diversity also leads to better,
more sustained innovation. And it leads to more relevant
and representative products. Google has a
important role to play in equipping the next
generation of women with the skills required
to be creators and not just consumers of technology. And at Google, we have a
saying. “Focus on the user, and all else will follow. Products will never
be as great as they can be if they
are only developed from one perspective.” So what can we do? First, we need to focus
on expanding access to CS education for women and
minorities underrepresented in the field. We have several
ongoing programs here, including CS First, which
provides teachers, schools, and volunteers with
fun, engaging materials to lead a CS First program
for fourth through eights grade students. Our Made with Code
program is an initiative inspiring teen girls to learn
to code through coding projects, community resources, and more. And our Engineering Practicum
is a 12 week summer software engineering internship that
brings first and second year university students
from diverse backgrounds to Google for real life
experience at a technology company. Lastly, our Computer Science
Summer Institute, CSSI, aims to increase involvement
and retention of CS students through a collaborative
CS curriculum and provides students who
just finished high school a unique experience to build
and network with other program participants. All of these programs can
be found on Google.com/edu and on our career site,
Google.com/career/students. Going back to our panelists,
one of the questions that I wanted to
ask you is, what got you interested
in technology? HEATHER CIECHOWSKI: I
guess, for me, it really happened my sophomore year. I just had to take a CS class
as a pre-req for another class. And I loved it so much, I
added it as a second major. AMY LYNAM: Awesome. SARAH JUNDT: My story
is very similar. I had never done
any computer science before my sophomore
year of college. And I took my first class,
fell completely in love. It felt like I was doing magic. I could control a computer
for the first time. I felt like I could make
it do literally anything. AMY LYNAM: Amazing. So second, we are working to
create an inclusive culture. Inclusion is when everyone’s
unique identity, background, and experiences are
respected, valued, and fully integrated
into how we operate. These differences improve
our workplace culture, collaboration, and
innovation, as well as our products and services. That means that all of us need
to be aware of our own biases so that we can understand and
welcome these differences. This awareness of
our own biases is what we call unconscious bias. As human beings, we
tend to like people who are like us, who
watch the same shows, who like the same food, who
have the same backgrounds. And you may also believe that
women and men should be equally associated with science, but
your automatic associations could show that you associate
men with science more than you associate women with science. And in a study done at Harvard
University looking at 900,000 test takers, 70% of respondents
had implicit stereotypes associating science
and tech with males more than with females. And as an employer,
we want to help people come to grips
with unconscious biases that they have. So we’ve been working on
bringing unconscious bias trainings to our employees
to raise awareness. We started an internal
conversation in 2013 about unconscious bias. And we continue to invest
in unbiasing trainings. Over half of our Googlers
have participated in these workshops. And all new Googlers and
managers are trained in it. Additionally, we’ve shared
our unbiasing materials and research on our
platform, WeWork with Google. Now anyone from any industry
can create unbiasing trainings for their team. The other thing that
we want to talk about is Imposter Syndrome. If you’re not familiar
with Imposter Syndrome it’s a well-known
psychological phenomenon where as an individual
becomes convinced that, for example,
they’re somehow incapable of doing
their job, do not deserve to have the
job that they have, and they will inevitably
be found out and fired. Even when an individual
with Imposter Syndrome is successful,
success is interpreted as just a lucky break or
something that’s not all that much of an achievement. In tech, the work that we do
is exceptionally communal. At Google, there’s
not one piece of code that is pushed to production
without being reviewed by another software engineer. Coding involves regular failure. If victories diminish in
importance and failure looms large, it
can be debilitating as a software engineer. The bottom line is, when
individuals are held back, the community is held back. Addressing and talking
about Imposter Syndrome is something that is
important to our company to ensure that for
anyone that is inhibited with their Imposter
Syndrome, they can feel supported by
not only their peers, but their managers as well. So going back to our
panelists, have you ever felt Imposter Syndrome
either in school or when you started
working at Google? How did you address it? HEATHER CIECHOWSKI: I
guess that I faced it the most when– let me go back. When I first got the offer
to move out to California and work for Google,
I was so excited. It felt like a dream come true. It’s all I wanted. And then I told my
friends and my coworkers, thinking they’d be
excited for me, too. But instead– some of them were. But some of them
said things like, oh, you only got the job
because you’re a girl and companies are all trying to
raise their diversity numbers. And that really sucked to hear,
because I’d worked so hard. And to hear them say
that was like telling me that I didn’t deserve
this awesome thing that just happened for me. And for some crazy, dumb reason,
I actually believed them. So when I got to
California– because I said, whatever, it’s Google. It’s California. I’m still going. So I got here, and
I almost felt like I needed to apologize
to my teammates for being the subpar
engineer that they get stuck with because of
these diversity incentives. And it was a pretty
crappy feeling. So luckily, though,
Google’s culture– we’re super open here. There’s a big emphasis on
rewarding for good performance. So soon enough, I’d gone
through interview training. And I got educated on
the hiring process. And I once I got
that education, I learned that Google
would never do something like make a hire decision
based on the diversity status of the candidate. So after that, and a few peer
bonuses and great performance reviews, it just
one day clicked. I was like, oh, I think
I’m a good engineer. I think that’s why I’m here. It’s not ’cause I’m a female. AMY LYNAM: That’s awesome. SARAH JUNDT: Yeah, absolutely. I actually started
feeling Imposter Syndrome when I was still at school. And I think part of it was
that I had started late. So I didn’t start really
getting into my CS classes until my junior year. And so that was later
than a lot of my peers. And I remember one
specific day where I was sitting in a room full
of engineers and CS students. And we were having
a presentation. And the presenter said, how many
of you are the go-to IT tech person– you’re the support
person for your family and friends. And I felt like everyone
around me raised their hands. And I was sitting there,
and I did not raise my hand. And I was like, this is not me. I am not the IT go-to person. I don’t really know what
to do when things go wrong with my computer. And here at Google, there are
people who deal with that. And no one expects me to
be able to deal with that. That’s not my job. My job is to code. But when I had
Imposter Syndrome, it was this horrible feeling
that I didn’t belong, and I would be found
out for not fitting in with this idea that I
had about what software engineers had to be like. AMY LYNAM: So tackling
Imposter Syndrome and unconscious bias
are just two ways we aim to create a fair
and inclusive Google. We want all Googlers
to feel comfortable bringing their whole
selves to work. By bringing their
whole selves, it creates an environment where
Googlers can push innovation, be creative, and feel inspired. And our communities
for women help make Google a
workplace for everyone. Our Women at Google
group is committed to empowering women
and supporting them achieve a successful
and fulfilling career. And our Google Women
and Engineering group provides networking development
and community building activities for our engineers. Like I was mentioning
earlier, we as a community need more women and young
girls to pursue an education in science, technology,
engineering, or math. And to do this, Google’s
committed to not only providing programs and scholarships
that women and young girls can get involved in,
but we’re committed to changing perceptions
about computer science so that everyone can
reach their goals and help change the world. To start, we offer scholarships
such as the Women Techmakers Scholars Program, formerly
known as the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship,
which is open to current female undergraduate
or graduate students. The Generation
Google Scholarship provides women with
funding to pursue degrees in computer science
and become active roles in their community. We support women
techmakers, which aims to make the tech industry
more welcoming for women. And programs like Made
with Code and CS First inspires millions of girls
to experience the power of code and technology. And we encourage you watching to
get involved in your community, learn more about our
programs and scholarships, and encourage more
women and young girls to pursue their love of
science and technology. All these programs and
scholarships can be found on Google for Education
site, Google.com/edu, and on our career site,
Google.com/career/students. One last question
for our panelists– what advice do you have
for women and young girls looking to pursue engineering? HEATHER CIECHOWSKI: I’d
say definitely work hard. Develop a good work
ethic, and never expect anything to be easy. And if you want something, try
really hard until you get it. I SARAH JUNDT: Have
two pieces of advice. One is specifically related
to Imposter Syndrome. When I was having a hard time at
school with Imposter Syndrome, I found that
mentoring and getting really involved with my
department helped me a lot. It sometimes helps
to realize what you know when you answer
other people’s questions. And then the other
piece of advice that I have is to
really do what you love. When I was in school, I had a
lot of people telling me, oh, you have to do this,
or you have to do that if you want
to work at Google, if you want to work
at a great company. And what I did was just
do what I loved instead. And I’m here, and I’ve seen
it work for a lot of people. So I would say, don’t listen
to people who are telling you you need to do
anything in particular. Just do what you like,
and it all works out. AMY LYNAM: Awesome. And with that, let’s take some
questions from our audience. So the first question
is from Andrea. What recommendations would
you have for young women in an older male group? So I think in terms
of what we were saying before, every perspective, every
viewpoint, every experience is so important to our products. If we look at our products
from one perspective, our products are not going
to be working for everyone. So I would say for any
young woman working in an older male group, just
remember that your perspective is important, because it’s
important to the product or the service that you’re
providing for everyone. So just think about
that in that case. HEATHER CIECHOWSKI:
One thing that’s worked for me, because I know
sometimes at those lunch time conversations, you
can feel like you don’t fit in when you don’t have
a wife and kids to talk about. So one thing that worked
well for me in the past was just finding
that common interest. It was just a game
that me and a couple of the other guys on the
team played on our phones. And then we talked about that. And all of a sudden, we
have this thing in common. And it really
brought us together and made us better as a team. AMY LYNAM: Definitely. Next question is, how did you
decide to apply at Google? How did you know
that you were ready? HEATHER CIECHOWSKI:
I didn’t apply. Google reached out
to me, luckily. LinkedIn, very good to
have, because that’s how they found me. They found my
profile on LinkedIn. And I had applied to
Google in the past, so they knew I was interested. So it was those two
pieces together that they reached out to me
and then went for it, studied a lot from there. SARAH JUNDT: I also actually
had applied previously before. And I had applied
for an internship and never heard back. But then when it came time for
me to graduate from college, I was reached out
to by a recruiter and went forward with the
process at that point. AMY LYNAM: Yeah, I would say
if you don’t hear from Google the first time,
doesn’t mean that you don’t have a shot at Google. I would say always apply
again, because you never know. So next question is, for
the Engineering Practicum internship that we
mentioned earlier, if they are not holding an
internship near my hometown, is there a way I
could live in a place up near where they’re
holding the internship? So we do help give relocation
bonuses to all intern students, both EP and Software
Engineering intern candidates to help with housing costs. So intern candidates
can receive this bonus before they start
their internship. This is coupled
with your salary. That can be used to help
pay for housing costs during your 12 to 14
week length internship. HEATHER CIECHOWSKI:
And it’s fun to go somewhere that’s not my home. You get to explore
somewhere new. Most opportunities are
out here in California. It’s beautiful here. AMY LYNAM: Definitely. We have another question. What’s the most challenging
thing or obstacle you have faced as a woman in
tech during your career so far? And what did you
do to overcome it? Well, I think Imposter
Syndrome is definitely one. A tough question. SARAH JUNDT: I think Imposter
Syndrome was probably the hardest for me. When I was in school and
when I came to Google, everyone was very supportive. And so it was just me holding
myself back and thinking that I wasn’t
capable of the things that I really
could do very well. HEATHER CIECHOWSKI: It’s amazing
once you start realizing that you’re good enough, you all the
sudden realize that no one else was ever thinking
that you weren’t. AMY LYNAM: So we have
another question around do what you love,
around your passions. And we have one
particular student who’s asking about UX
design, which is something that they love. What skills do I need to develop
so that I’m doing what I love and catering myself
to work there? I would say for anything
that you’re passionate about, continue to explore that. I think a lot of times
engineers and Googlers or students who are
interested in joining Google will try to get involved
in everything versus really focusing on certain
projects that they feel really passionate about. So I would say
continue to network, continue to speak
with other people who might be in the field
that you’re interested in, and just continue to grow
and develop from there. HEATHER CIECHOWSKI: Projects
are the best thing to do really. With UX type stuff,
it’s really easy. You can make a website
that’s super visible. And then you can put that
link right on your resume. I always suggest apps
are really great to make. Just do a lot of projects. And start small. Finishing your first
project’s really important. Get that on your resume, and
then try to build from there. AMY LYNAM: Absolutely. I think that’s all the
questions that we have today. Thank you so much,
again, for listening in. And have a great day.

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