Hangouts On Air: Google Scholarships in Europe, Middle East and Africa

Hangouts On Air: Google Scholarships in Europe, Middle East and Africa

SARA ADAMS: Scholarship
opportunities in EMEA. That’s short for Europe,
Middle East and Africa. And in particular, we’ll be
looking at two scholarships. That’s the Anita Borg Memorial
Scholarship for computer scientists which are female,
and the Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. And details, such as exact
application deadlines and stuff like that, you can find
on the Google Students page, Now, everyone here works at
Google, but in particular, we’re all connected to these
scholarships directly. I myself was an Anita
Borg Memorial Scholarship finalist in 2007. I was a scholar in 2008. In 2009, I joined Google in
Munich, Germany as a full-time software engineer. And in 2010 and ’11, I had the
pleasure of actually reviewing applications for the Anita Borg
Memorial Scholarship, because I’m a strong believer
that programs such as these really help a lot. In 2012, I kind of took a
quick break, because I’m currently on maternity leave. But in 2013, so that’s the
upcoming cycle, I plan to read the applications again. And now it’s a pleasure for me
to introduce you to three further Googlers. [? Tali, ?] who is based in Tel Aviv in
Israel, how about you introduce yourself next? FEMALE SPEAKER: OK. Hi. So as Sara said, my name
is [? Tali. ?] I’ve been an Anita Borg finalist
in 2011, an intern since for a year, and now I’ve
been a full-time Googler in the past three weeks or
something like that. SARA ADAMS: Cool, great. So Shikoh, she is based
in Nairobi, Kenya. And how about you introduce
yourself next. SHIKOH GITAU: OK, my
name is Shikoh. I’m based out of Nairobi. I was an Anita Borg scholar in
2010, then joined Google in London in December of 2010 as
an intern, then Zurich in February of 2011, then joined
2011 as a full-time user experience researcher based
out of Nairobi. This year, 2012, I
was [INAUDIBLE] scholars in PhD [INAUDIBLE] Anita Borg scholarship. SARA ADAMS: Cool. Great, thank you. Finally, [? Zvika ?], who is
based in Tel Aviv, in Israel again, how about you
introduce yourself. MALE SPEAKER: Hi, I’m
[? Zvika ?], as Sara said. I’m a software engineer
in Google since 2007. I have a PhD In computer
science. And in the last three years, I
had the pleasure of reviewing the applications for the
Google Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. SARA ADAMS: Great, cool. So first, we’re going to answer
some general questions. And then in the second phase,
we’re actually going to answer some questions that you guys out
there asked on Twitter or the Google Moderator
page or on Google+. And so the first question is
more kind of an explanation. And we’re talking about
scholarships in EMEA, and in particular about two. And if you don’t exactly know
what they’re about, we kind of wanted to give you a
general overview. [? Tali, ?] how about you give
us some details about the Anita Borg Memorial
Scholarship? FEMALE SPEAKER: Sure. So the Anita Borg Memorial
Scholarship is a scholarship for female computer scientists
or related technical fields. Basically, it’s for either
bachelors, masters PhDs who are still going to be students
in the next year. And it’s a scholarship that
looks for academic excellence and leadership skills in the
scientific community. SARA ADAMS: Cool, great. Thanks. [? Zvika, ?] how about you give us some
overview of the Scholarship for Students with
Disabilities. MALE SPEAKER: Yes, sure. So the Scholarship for
Disabilities is aimed for students that have some
disabilities and have problems in applying and also in studying
computer science in the various institutions. So we at Google want to give
an equal opportunity to everyone, so the aim of the
scholarship is to support those students, give them some
money that will help them be equal in studying and in
accomplishing their way in the computer science. So basically, we look for
excellence, we look for leadership, and to help
these students. SARA ADAMS: OK, cool. That actually in some ways
leads over to the next question, which is, what do we
look for in applications for both scholarships? Do you have any tips or
advice to pass along? And how about, Shikoh, you give
your opinion on that. SHIKOH GITAU: OK. Having applied in 2010, one
thing I like is you have to very good grades. I mean, we take excellence
as a very serious thing at Google. But other than your academic
qualification, I think the other good thing is you need to
show that you have a life out of the books. You need to be a leader of some
sort, not only an actual leader standing in a podium
or leading a group. You need to show initiative. And these are the things that
we’re always looking at in our application. Sometimes you may have some
really excellent grades, but very zero people skills,
interaction skills, taking initiative. You’re always being fed. So you need to show when you’re
applying that I have taken initiative in doing so and
so, such and such a thing, I have been creative in doing
this and this thing. And the one thing that I saw in
this year’s application is many of the students– and I
read a lot of [INAUDIBLE] they had not finished
their application. They didn’t take time
to think through it. I mean, like an essay, you’re
ask a certain question, and do not box yourself within
that particular question, but think broadly. But make sure somebody else
reads that question and your answer and gives you
feedback on their perception about that. And I’m open to review some
applications if you want. You just ping me. And I’ll help some of the
students actually through the application process, because
you just need another eye looking at your application. And put yourself out there. Put your full skills
out there. Put your real self out there. More than academics,
your real self. That’s what we’re looking for
at Google, and for the application as well. SARA ADAMS: [? Tali, ?] do you
have something to add onto that for the Anita Borg
Memorial Scholarship? FEMALE SPEAKER: So I think
Shikoh was right on the money. It really helps a lot when you
have– like, I’ve had, I think, tens of my friends go
over this and tell me what they think. So definitely do that. SARA ADAMS: And I can just
say, there’s no harm in sending off the application,
especially if you’ve kind of put thought into it already. Finishing it and sending off,
you can’t lose anything and you can win everything. Cool. So how about, [? Zvika ?], you
give us some advice and tips for the Scholarship for Students
with Disabilities. MALE SPEAKER: So basically these
advices hold also for the application for students
with disabilities. We look for excellence. We look for leadership. One thing I would like to
mention is that Google has partnershiped with an
organization called the EmployAbility. You can find the details
on the student site. This organization helps students
with disabilities to, if they have some problems with
their application, with technical problems or other
problems, so feel free to contact this organization if
you have any problems. SARA ADAMS: Cool, great. Thanks. So also linked to that is kind
of [? Zvika ?] and myself. We read applications. [? Zvika, ?] do you remember any applications
that stood out, where you said, yeah, I remember
that, that was pretty impressive? MALE SPEAKER: Yes. So in general, there were, I
remember, several touching stories about students that
had some disability. They had some accident
or some hard disease that they’re coping. And they describe how they
overcome all the barriers that they have, and they want to be
like regular people, and they accomplished that. Is it in general? If you’re asking about something
specific, what I remember is I liked this story
of a student, that he lives in Albania, in place there
are many poor people. And his hobby is he helps
friends and family with a software problems that they
have with their computers. And then he asks them to give
him old computers and all the parts of computers. And he assembles it together and
takes it to poor children in his neighborhood, and gives
them and ships them to him. And he remembers when he was a
poor child In his neighborhood and he couldn’t afford
a computer. And now every time he sees a
child smile, it makes him feel very happy. So this was a story
that I remember. SARA ADAMS: So me personally, I
reviewed for two years, and I think probably the one story
that stuck with me, which was really impressive, and I guess
you don’t see very often, is someone actually first co-hosted
a summer camp for girls, I think, to learn more
about computer science. I think it was somewhere in
Africa, kind of also a lot of basic skills. And the next year, she led it. And then after that, she kind of
saw that there was so much excitement, so she brought
it to schools. And did this on a regular basis,
which is a clear sign of leadership. And it’s not necessarily on a
highly technical level, but it shows so much passion and so
much involvement, and just trying to change the world with
such things, which was really impressive. I myself didn’t do anything
such grand. But for example, I worked
on open source software. And that’s something, I guess,
I saw quite a bunch of times. And that’s also something that’s
always great to see, that while you’re studying,
you actually take it a step further. You don’t just do what the
curriculum requires, but you do something that you enjoy
and that brings you and others further. And so I think that’s always
impressive, and it’s always something to be very proud of,
and that reads very nicely in an application, too. Now, the scholarship,
I already said I’m a strong believer. I think it helps a
lot of people. And for me, it was
very encouraging. It was kind of a boost
of confidence. I personally, as a woman in
computer science, often felt that I wasn’t quite as good as
my fellow computer scientists. And getting the scholarship,
and especially going to the retreat really showed
me how many other women were in the field. And by acknowledging their
excellence, I kind of got an idea of that, actually, I’m
not that bad, either. So it boosted my confidence,
and that helped me actually push further and go for an
internship with Google, and in the end, work with Google, and
kind of get rid of that small impostor syndrome
I was having. So that’s probably the biggest
impact that the scholarship had for me, kind of being
exposed to other people and realizing the good stuff that
was happening out there. But I wonder what about
you, [? Tali? ?] What did being a finalist
make happen for you? FEMALE SPEAKER: So when I went
to the retreat, first of all, there were a lot– it’s constantly growing
every year. There are more finalists. And you kind of go in and you’re
expecting to see around the same number that there was
last year, and then it’s like, this is a lot of people. All right. So there were a lot of really
amazing girls, and some of them are my friends now. And we keep in loose touch. And it’s really great to see
that, around the world, people are actually doing stuff,
or changing. They’re making a difference,
and they care. And it’s really great to see. I think there were amazing
stories on my end. SARA ADAMS: Shikoh,
what about you? SHIKOH GITAU: Well, for me,
I mean, the Anita Borg Scholarship had two
great impacts. The first one is, I was, among
the first, one of the two girls who got the Anita
Borg scholar for the first time in Africa. So there’s a lot of
media [INAUDIBLE]. Everybody from Kenya, where I
come from, to South Africa, where I was going to grad
school, I mean, we were on so many news channels,
it was amazing. And the main thing out of it
was the number of girls who actually looked up to us. And I got this number of emails
girls saying, how do I get into computer science? And these are high
school girls. And I got these speaking
opportunities to go and speak to high school girls, and just
to answer, how is computer science [INAUDIBLE]? And at the time, I was
a PhD student. And I’m very passionate
about creating technology for Africa. And many of these girls, I was
telling them, computer science is not about just math. It’s about solving that problem
you have in your community, using technology. And they were getting it. And maybe because I was a
celebrity, because they could identify with me and I looked
like them, I didn’t look extraordinary. I mean, a Googler who could
create technology. But I mean, that was the one
thing that really got to me. The second thing is,
I got the money. And the money, all of
it went into my PhD. I was at the tail end of my PhD,
and I wanted to make it into an actual viable
product that people could actually use. And because I was working with
very poor people and those were my users, I didn’t want
to charge them anything. So this money came just
at the right time. And I put in all of it,
actually, into actually making my PhD into an actual product,
more than just a thesis. And those are the
biggest impacts. And my PhD has gone
and outgrown me. Even after I came into Google,
it’s still somewhere in South Africa helping people. And for me, I’m always entirely
grateful for that. It changed my life and the lives
of these girls, that always, even still today, write
to me and say, how do I get into computer science? And I’m happy to be an answer
to that question, because I didn’t have an answer when
I was growing up. SARA ADAMS: So it’s really
great to see that, partly through the scholarship, you
kind of became a role model and someone to look up to, and
kind of someone that people could approach without feeling
intimidated or anything like that. So, [? Zvika ?], obviously you
weren’t a recipient of a scholarship, but do you have
any reasons why you think people should apply? MALE SPEAKER: I think, as I
said before, students with disabilities have
many barriers. And I think money can help
in some cases to overcome the barriers. Also, as you can see, that many
people that receive these scholarships end up working at
Google and have connections with Google. So I think this can be a win
for both sides, both for Google and also for
the students. So I think this can be a
very good thing to try. SARA ADAMS: Cool. So that’s kind of the questions
that we thought probably a lot of you would
be interested in. But the questions that probably
touch the points that are most interesting
to you are those questions that you submitted. So here’s the first one from
Anya in London, UK. There are many good applicants
out there. Any tips on how to make an
application stand out? And so, [? Tali, ?] how about you start. FEMALE SPEAKER: Well, OK. So I haven’t viewed
any applications yet, maybe this year. But just based on what I’m
hearing from people and what I’ve heard in the retreat, I
think find that hero in you and just let it out. And grades are numbers, and
your CV is just lines. Do it in the essays. Find who you are and
let it show. [? SARA ADAMS: Zvika, ?] what about you? MALE SPEAKER: I think I agree
with what [? Tali ?] said. I think just be good
in what you do. And put it down, write it
down, and be yourself. I mean, this is the
great thing. Show that you are both excellent
in what you do, and also that you care about
others, you have some leadership, you did some other
things, you did things that other people don’t do. And write it down. And I think that’s it. SARA ADAMS: So I can also
just reiterate on that. I mean, Shikoh did say we do
look at excellence and academic excellence, technical
excellence. But I think the best way for
you to show yourself is in those essays, and just kind of
writing what you think, what vision you have, explaining
things you’ve been doing. Because sometimes grades aren’t
the thing that actually tells outright how much passion
you have, what you are for, what kind of
things you do. And in the CV and the essays,
you can really show that. And it’s not about throwing
out big terms or anything like that. It’s just about getting your
idea across and getting your personality across. And when you accomplish that,
then your application will definitely stand out. And as [? Tali ?] mentioned, and also Shikoh, it
really helps if you write your essays, if you let someone else
read through them, just to have a sanity check. Does it all make sense to
someone who hasn’t had any contact with the ideas you’re
presenting before? I mean, you can always remember
that computer scientists will be reading the
applications, so you don’t have to kind of start
from super scratch. But not expecting specialists
to read, for example, what kind of PhD you’re doing does
help, because when it’s easy to read something, then you’ve
done a really good job. Which kind of leads
over to the second question that Anya– I think it’s probably the
same Anya– asked. Any tips regarding the
technical essays? So my advice would be,
the simpler you make it sound, the better. The most difficult thing
is to make something difficult seem simple. And when I read applications,
I really appreciate that. And we’re all smart people. So if you kind of make
something sound more complicated than it is,
we’re going to know. And we’re just going to say,
that could have been stated more concisely. And when you actually accomplish
that, it’s very impressive. And that’s something that gets
extra plus points from me. [? Zvika, ?] do you have
something to add onto the technical essays? MALE SPEAKER: I don’t
think so. I think you made a good point. Keep in mind that the
reviewers read many applications, so you have to be
clear and not go into too many details. But on the other hand, show the
technical complexity of what you’re doing. [INAUDIBLE]. SARA ADAMS: Exactly. FEMALE SPEAKER: I’d like
to just add that– and I know Sara will agree
with me on this one. Some of us have the tendency to
sort of minimize ourselves. And that’s the main thing that
you need to try not to do, and that’s why people should
read your essays. Of course you don’t want to go
overboard because that would also be [INAUDIBLE]. But be real. Don’t say, well, this little
thing that I do, it’s really very small. So yeah. SARA ADAMS: I guess one thing to
add onto that is, like the essays, don’t feel the
need to write it like a technical paper. It shouldn’t be totally
colloquial, but try to show yourself. You don’t have to
be very formal. Just write it as if you wanted
to explain something to a fellow computer scientist. So kind of find a good balance,
but don’t try to be too intellectual in some ways. While we appreciate when a
complexity is explained and not hidden away, but I hope you
get what I mean when I say don’t try to write a paper to
publish at a conference. SHIKOH GITAU: And to add onto
what Sara is saying is, be real, be yourself. Write from your heart. I mean, whatever words you’re
writing down, they should be from your heart, not basically
from your head. Don’t over-think. Don’t think these guys at
Google, they want to read these technical terms. I mean, some of the applications
this year were excellent, but if I’m forced
to go onto search every two seconds [INAUDIBLE] what do they mean
by saying this. And by the time I’m done with
that essay, I’m so tired. Maybe you actually are giving me
better points, but because you used some technical words
that I didn’t have an idea what it was about– and it’s OK if you feel that
I’m doing this research. It’s very [INAUDIBLE] students in Africa
[INAUDIBLE]. Sometimes you feel like your
research or your work is not very computer science. It’s OK, because it’s applicable
to where you are. Apply with that, because
[INAUDIBLE] inside– I mean, as everybody has said,
Sara has said it, and because we see what you’re doing. Are you trying to change
the world? We want to see you as
Superwoman, Superman, because in changing the world, that’s
what Google is all about, changing the world. So don’t be too technical. Don’t use hard names. Don’t make us think you’re doing
something that you’re not, because that’s
what some of the students are always doing. Don’t use anything technical. Just use plain English. Again, get somebody else to
read your application. If they don’t understand
it, don’t send it yet. Just give it another day, look
at it, and then send it. SARA ADAMS: So I think that’s
a great note to end on. Thank you, everyone, for joining
the Hangout, or if you’re watching this later. I’ll just reiterate that the
details about the scholarships are on the Google Students
page,, including the application
deadlines and the exact requirements. And I hope you enjoyed this
Hangout and us sharing a couple of inside views. And have a good day. Bye-bye. SHIKOH GITAU: Bye-bye. FEMALE SPEAKER: Bye. MALE SPEAKER: Bye-bye. Thank you.

One thought on “Hangouts On Air: Google Scholarships in Europe, Middle East and Africa

  1. 2013 Google Scholarships in Europe, Middle East and Africa

    Below you'll find the recording from our recent Hangout On Air where a panel of Googlers discussed the two 2013 Google Scholarships for Europe, Middle East and Africa: the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship ( and the Google Scholarship for Students with Disabilities (

    The panel consisted of a former scholarship recipient finalist (now full-time employee at Google) and senior judges who sit on the application review committee. They discussed what we look for when reviewing scholarship applications, what the application process looks like, and general tips for those interested in applying.

    Both scholarships are now open and the deadline to apply is February 1, 2013.

    #googlescholarships Β  #scholarship Β  #emeascholars Β 

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