Google Interns are located at offices all across the globe, and represent a broad diversity of backgrounds, concentrations and interests. Inspired by Steven Colbert’s Better Know a District, we’re bringing to you “Better Know an Intern!” The series introduces 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 today’s post, meet Matthew Dierker, an intern on the Google Voice team.
My name is Matthew Dierker, and I’m a rising junior in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign! I grew up in Sugar Land, Texas (that’s really the name!) and played trumpet for 8 years through middle school and high school.
1. Of all the companies to apply for, why did you want to work at Google?
As a high school junior at a programming summer camp, I took a tour of Google’s Mountain View campus. I remember seeing the main campus and being amazed at how many amazing colorful things were there. From then on, I thought of Google as a dream job. In college I talked to Google at career fairs and slowly built up my Google swag collection. After my interview sophomore year, I talked to engineers on three teams (one of which was Google Voice) and the rest is history!
2. In what way(s) has Google impacted you, and how have you left an impact at Google?
Seeing a self-driving car in person for the first time was cool, but even cooler was getting Google Glass while still an intern and talking to a friend about her work on Project Loon. Google’s work is mind-bogglingly awesome sometimes, and it’s inspiring to think about how I fit in to the bigger picture.
I’ve been able to help too! When I first arrived at Google, my host gave me a couple of areas I could contribute to on Google Voice. I chose to build an internal API on the Voice infrastructure for programs that need to make or receive calls. I also rewrote Speak To Tweet using the API, and it’s now running on my code! The best part of it all has been my team. They’ve answered all my questions and made every day fun. Learning about infrastructure has been a new experience for me and it’s led to a great summer on Voice.
Finally, one impactful side project was our game of Intern Assassins. We had almost 250 interns sign up to play the game, and with some help from friends I wrote the website/texting system to power it all. As a player it was fun to be constantly suspicious, and as an organizer we had a rewarding game. I’m hoping to open source the system in the future!
3. What is the most interesting/exciting thing that you have been able to do as a Google intern? Your “Magic Moment”?
Most of the magic for me is in how cool every single day with the other interns is! Every Friday night, a bunch of us have board game night, and I love a game called Resistance that we play all the time there. I found a group of friends that I really liked, we planned adventures every weekend, and after each one we got to go back and code at Google. Whether it’s hanging out at a Google party on a roof or chilling in the ball pit at 2:00 AM after a hackathon, the entire summer has been an unbelievable experience.
If I had to pick just one moment, it would be getting to take a picture with Larry and Sergey. After Intern Assassins wrapped up, Larry and Sergey talked about it for a few minutes at a weekly company meeting called TGIF. We even got Alan Eustace (Google’s SVP of Knowledge) to “assassinate” Sergey with a three and a half foot spoon! It was a great way to end an awesome summer.
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 help run a school project called Party Rock Illinois in which 30 people we sync 1600 ft. of Christmas lights, lasers, and LED panels to music. It’s been challenging with lots of setbacks, but when something works it’s an amazing feeling.
Outside of Party Rock, I’m one of two social chairs for the Association for Computing Machinery at UIUC. Hanging out in our lounges is an awesome way to make friends with people in your courses. I love it because it’s turned classmates into some of my best friends. I’m also a big lover of hackathons! Finally, I’m a Google Student Ambassador for UIUC. We’ve planned a scavenger hunt for freshmen, and have some other awesome events coming up this year!
5. What types of lessons/skills have you learned at Google that you will take back to school after this summer ends?
First, Google has taught me to be a better software engineer. In the code review process, my host showed me how to take working code and made it better working code. It’s a hard concept to grasp on my own because both versions work, but one is better!
In addition this summer, we hosted some ice cream weekends for interns at our corporate housing. At events like these, it’s sometimes hard to put your fear behind you, go up to someone, introduce yourself and try to make friends. Being able to do that is something I’ll definitely bring back to school in my role as a leader and as a Google Student Ambassador. Finally, I’m going to take back the excitement of working on the latest and greatest in tech by coding for devices like Google Glass and the Chromecast.
6. Any advice for students interested in being a Google intern?
The best advice I can give you is to just make something cool. Whether it’s at a hackathon or just in your house, make a game, play with a device, or just make “Hello World” on your screen and take it from there. Once you’re in college, take chances that seem interesting. It might be as simple as going to a Google tech talk, or the hackathon that’s at school, or even just talking to the people next to you in class. If you can get out of your dorm room and have a good time in computer science, you’re on the right track!
7. Favorite micro-kitchen snack?
I love sugar. Gummy bears hands down!
Posted by Sarah Henderson, Student Development Team