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. 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 Robert Mata, a Senior from Stanford University. He is a Science, Technology, and Society major (Policy concentration), two-time People Operations intern, and Google Student Ambassador. Fun fact about Robert: He stumbled his way into the semifinals of his first Quickstep (a faster paced alternative to the foxtrot) competition while studying abroad at Oxford University!
1. Of all the companies to apply for, why did you want to work at Google?
Google was so compelling as a potential workplace that it was second nature for me to apply to be an intern when I became eligible. Though the perks and welcoming culture are now the stuff of legend, I was also greatly excited by the sheer number of opportunities Google had to offer. As someone interested in working for technology companies, but with limited interest in a purely technical role, it was intimidating to search the Silicon Valley for non-technical positions. Google’s Building Opportunities for Leadership and Development (BOLD) internship program was definitely the answer for me. I was drawn to BOLD due to the team’s encouragement to explore while interning, and perhaps an opportunity to transition between functions later on. Though I applied to the program with prior experience in marketing, I indicated that I was also interested in People Operations. When they placed me in New York City for my first summer internship with the Sales Staffing team, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I babbled my acceptance on the spot.
2. In what way(s) has Google impacted you, and how have you left an impact at Google?
Interning at Google has impacted me in a number of ways, the most prominent of which is a greater understanding of the technology sector both within New York City and Silicon Valley. As my first internship had me staffing and recruiting sales-related positions, I interacted with candidates from virtually every large company New York City had to offer. I learned the ins and outs of Google’s unique approach to recruiting, resume building, screening, and interviewing, so I was well prepared to apply for my next internship. Helping hire Google’s core sales force boosted my professionalism and career scope greatly over the summer. I grew immensely as an independent adult as well, for that was my first summer living in New York City.
I’m currently interning in a generalist Human Resources Business Partner role in Mountain View doing research and analysis, and developing presentations, recommendations, and programs for the Google Fiber organization. As a smaller branch of Google, Fiber’s close-knit structure and collaborative culture have allowed me to interact with every function within Google to best assess business needs. One of my projects requires the production of a product and organization overview video, which permits me to extend every bit of creativity I have. I also work in San Bruno at the YouTube office occasionally, helping out on HR initiatives where appropriate. It’s empowering to know that my decks, programs, and other deliverables will be at Fiber and Google long after the end of my internship.
3. What is the most interesting/exciting thing that you have been able to do as a Google intern? Your “Magic Moment”?
My magic moment occurred at one of the earliest points of my Google experience. The day after my arrival in New York City (and day before the first day of my internship), Google was forming one of the largest marching contingents at NYC Pride, and I signed up. Though I was completely new to Google, New York City, and even Pride (this was my first Pride parade), I quickly made friends with other Googlers who would later become my core group of friends for the summer. As I’m from a particularly conservative part of California, I had never seen such displays of support, encouragement, and unconditional acceptance, nonetheless from new co-workers and mentors. That magical feeling of openness and joy defines my Google experience to this day.
4. Aside from working for Google, what kinds of organizations/clubs/activities are you involved with in your community / around your school’s campus?
I’ve been involved in a number of student government positions since my freshman year, including Frosh Council. The connections I made during Frosh Council introduced me to a friend who I would later co-found a nonprofit with. Two other Stanford students and I created Photography Competing to Receive Support (PCTRS), a competition aiming to increase diversity within the fashion industry and raise funds for trans and women’s health clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area. On campus, I also work with the Safe and Open Spaces panels, which brings honest discussions of LGBT issues to various dorms and frats around school, and Project Motivation, which brings high schoolers from underrepresented areas to tour and panel Stanford life. I’ve also worked at the Bing Overseas Studies Center since I was a freshman, which has given me excellent work experience and amazing friends. I started rowing and dancing quickstep while studying abroad myself, and am looking forward to practicing both senior year.
5. What types of lessons/skills have you learned at Google that you will take back to school after this summer ends?
Having worked in the New York City, San Bruno (YouTube), and Mountain View offices, and visited a London office, I have a fairly solid understanding of Google’s expansive reach and influence. I am humbled by the scope of the projects Google has let me undertake as an intern, but am also grateful to be given so much responsibility and have gained an appropriate amount of professional confidence. While there are concrete skills like effective Google Doc and Calendar use, I will also leave with a much greater appreciation for the relationship between technical and non-technical roles, which is certain to be a valuable skill at any modern company. Another key takeaway is my role as a campus ambassador this year, which will have me communicating my knowledge of Google’s structure, mission, and products to Stanford’s campus. Anything and everything I’ve learned at Google thus far will be useful in that role.
5. Any advice for students interested in being a Google intern?
I would suggest starting early, as Google has a comprehensive set of programs (including Computer Science Summer Institute, BOLD Immersion, and AdCamp) that I wish I had taken advantage of before applying to an internship. I joined Google my sophomore year at the suggestion of Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America, a partner program that I’ve been involved with since high school. However, there’s no need to worry if you, like me, express interest midway through college. Personally, I feel it’s most important to demonstrate attributes like outstanding ability, versatility, dedication and heart. All of these evince passion, which really drives the company forward on every level.
6. Favorite micro-kitchen snack?
I’m convinced that I should be a product marketing manager or promoter for the Avitae caffeinated water, as I’ve introduced it to so many people both inside and outside of Google. I’m most enthusiastic about the fact that it doesn’t make me hyperactive like energy drinks or yellow my teeth like coffee or soda, which is brilliant. It’s also a great pick-me-up when discreetly mixed with orange juice!
Posted by Tony Nelli, Tech University Programs