September 13th, 2013 | Published in Google Student Blog
It’s intern season at Google! Interns are located at offices all across the globe, and represent a broad diversity of backgrounds, concentrations and interests. So inspired by Stephen Colbert’s Better Know a District, we’re bringing to you “Better Know an Intern!” The series will introduce you to our interns across the globe, and will get you the scoop on the impactful projects they work on, their interests and passions, and what it’s really like to intern at Google straight from the source.
For our next post, meet Gavin Ovsak, an intern on the Hangouts Platform team.
I'm a rising Junior at Duke University studying Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science. I'm from Minnesota and I was a Google Science Fair Finalist in 2011!
1. Of all the companies to apply for, why did you want to work at Google?
Google has always been this force of good in my eyes which has been doing a huge variety of things, which altogether make the world a better place. I heard stories of Googlers who solved enormous tech problems by day and were also active in their community outside of work, and I wanted to meet them. I knew that this is where big ideas are made and grown into big impacts and that's right where I wanted to be!
2. In what way(s) has Google impacted you, and how have you left an impact at Google?
Being at Google has not only helped me become a far better programmer than I was coming in, but it has also helped me meet so many amazing fellow interns and Googlers!
My intern project was to make an extension for Hangouts to improve production of high-profile live broadcast hangouts, giving the coordinator a lot more control options. I went from absolutely no code to about 6000 lines over the course of my summer and I was able to ship to key partners who liked it!
During my internship I also made sure to contact a couple people across Google with some ideas I had for various products, and I was really happy to find out that people were interested in hearing what a random intern had to say!
3. What is the most interesting/exciting thing that you have been able to do as a Google intern? Your “Magic Moment”?
My most exciting moment as an intern was going on an off-site outing with my team to go play "Whirlyball". Whirlyball turned out to be bumper cars with a twist where you form two teams and pass a whiffle ball around to try to hit a scoring panel on the other side of the court! It was super fun and I got to know my team really well. Also, I was really excited when Chris Messina (Inventor of the Hashtag!) posted a big comment on one of my posts on Google+.
4. Aside from working for Google, what kinds of organizations/clubs/activities are you involved with in your community / around your school’s campus?
Probably my biggest thing at Duke is being one of the organizers of the TEDxDuke annual conference, which brings in Duke students or grads who are doing amazing things to give a short talk about their work and their big ideas. I'm also a Keeper on the Duke Quidditch team and before you laugh, I assure you it's a very tough position. Our team went to the IQA (International Quidditch Association) World Cup freshman year and competed against the 100 teams there. It was epic!
5. What types of lessons/skills have you learned at Google that you will take back to school after this summer ends?
Googleyness is a hard attribute to define, but I've seen it firsthand and I want to spread it! No idea is too crazy to be tried and no helpful action is too small to be worth it. I've seen Googlers from interns to full timers, right up to Larry himself, faced with tough decisions that do the right thing for the users even when it is the much harder path.
5. Any advice for students interested in being a Google intern?
The interview process can seem daunting, but it's totally worth it. Also, a lot of people warned me beforehand that my chances were slim because only a small percentage of people who apply to Google get in. However, I know from talking to Googlers that the application process is not a lottery. Google hires those who work hard and are qualified.
6. Favorite micro-kitchen snack?
Personally, I love the fresh cookies that show up everyday in Google Kirkland promptly at 3pm. My team always goes down to get them and often grabs some self serve froyo along with them.Caption: The Seattle/Kirkland Interns had an awesome thrift shop themed boat cruise night and you can see me here in my Willy Wonka themed getup!