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So… what was your summer like at Google?
If you’d rather see the Hangout on Air that I was in to see the perspective of being an intern from other people’s perspectives, go here
It’s really hard to summarize a summer in a couple of sentences, much less a couple of complete and well-thought out paragraphs (for reference, it wasn’t until mid-October that I wrote my reflections on my previous internship). I finished my internship at Google last Friday and already it seems like a faraway dream, made perhaps even more severe by the fact that my summer at Google was in Tokyo, Japan. And now I’m sitting halfway across the world in Mountain View, California. <whine>.
If I look back at my email history, my first step to this summer actually was in February of last year, when I first applied to the APM internship position in Tokyo. I didn’t know it was actually the first year that the program was ever offered in Tokyo, and I found out I had not been accepted in April:
Your product insights were quite strong, but the technical skills were raised as concerns when communicating effectively with engineers.
I reached out to the same hiring coordinator towards the end of October after my summer at IDEO and a semester feverishly covering my “technical skills”, and had one onsite interview at the beginning of December and a battery of other onsite interviews later that month. I found out that I had been accepted at the end of January this year, and started my internship formally at the beginning of June.
Working at Google is like working at an amusement park - there’s so many fun things to do, cool things to learn about and amazing things to participate in - sometimes it takes quite a bit of effort to focus on the job. The great thing about the specific role that I was in was that being a product manager (and an “associate” product manager, and intern at that, which means I’m really basically minus two steps on the actual PM role) means defining new features or removing old features that respond directly to user needs. That means there’s a lot of people to coordinate things with, and lots of pockets of time in which you do different things and wear different hats - one moment you might be deep in defining your new feature, another moment you might be asked to respond to specific user design inquiries to another feature, another moment you might be presenting that feature to a group of PR folks interested in seeing if there’s a way to showcase it when it’s ready. In short, it’s terribly easy to be busy.
To be more specific, I was working on the captions feature within YouTube, launching several things along the summer, including an inline captions editor (so that people could edit captions that YouTube automatically generates for videos with speech), a new icon for captions on YouTube (so that people outside the United States could understand what the icon meant, instead of the US-standard, “CC”), and a feature that allows captions to be shown on iPads. It was easy to be passionate about the project and sometimes it took some effort to step back and spend time to consider what exactly YouTube users would react positively to. Having an amazing mentor (it’s really hard for me to call him my “manager”, because it makes him sound like a grumpy fogey) really made a difference.
I think there is also something to be said about working in Tokyo, where the Google presence is significant and the Tokyo environment makes for some really interesting juxtapositions of Japanese and American culture influences. Working in that timezone also can be oddly convenient, because all of the emails that come from Mountain View arrive in my inbox while I am asleep, making my mornings hyper-productive because I get to address many issues at once.
So following my last year’s template, in short, I was able to (aside from my main summer project)
Whatever decision Google has about job offers, there’s no denying this summer has been a whirlwind of craziness, an amazing learning experience, and a fantastic opportunity to get a glimpse into what I would undoubtedly want to be doing as a full-time career.