I interned at Google! But I wish I knew these things beforehand.

I interned at Google! But I wish I knew these things beforehand.

This post has been long overdue but somehow I feel it is being written at the exact moment it is supposed to be.

In April 2017, I received the best news of my life – I had gotten an offer for a marketing internship at Google. As much as this was the best news I had ever received, it was also a shocker.

Let me backtrack a little to my motivations for applying.

During the first semester of my third year in university, I was seated in class when a course mate spoke about her pending application to Google. I was quite interested but when I asked her about it, she said it was closing by the end of that same day. Although I managed to apply it was all in a rush and I honestly had no hopes of even getting an interview. This was in October 2016.

I totally forgot about the application and in December 2016, I received an email to pick a recruiter to handle my application. After this, I did not receive any word for the next two months and automatically assumed my application had been rejected and closed. I mean, there are probably thousands of applications yearly so I did not expect emails to be sent out to everyone.

I had already started making preparations to re-apply to the firm I interned previously for my 2017 summer internship. To my surprise, on the xx day of March 2017, I received an email from the recruiter inviting me for two consecutive Skype interviews with people on the Google Nigeria team. I was overwhelmed and this marked the beginning of getting any of my hopes up.

I now felt like I had a chance.

After reading all I could about Google, interviews, and marketing I went forth to ace my interviews and the recruiter called me that same day that I had passed my interviews and sent over the offer. This was surreal. I was about to turn 18 years old and at that point in my life, working at Google was only in my farthest dreams. Little did I know that this was only the beginning.

In this post, I am not going to go into all the details about the culture or the work I did there but it was an amazing time spent with great people doing impactful work!

A few days towards the end of my internship, I started to reflect. There were a few things I regretted I did and didn’t do. A few things that could have been done differently and better. A lot of things I know now that if I had known before the start of my internship would have made me even more of a superstar.

I and Ben of benjamindada.com
I and Ben of benjamindada.com

Self Leadership is a must

I joined Google with a little bit of experience from typical Nigerian firms and places where you are told what to do. A lot of my time was spent speaking with my line managers and trying to get the next thing to do/task from them.

Work shouldn’t be done this way.

Autonomy and Responsibility were very highly encouraged and I had projects I was leading the efforts with, but I still always wanted someone to approve my next step. This caused a bit of a problem for me as I would wait until someone had a task for me before I did any major work. It seems like a no-brainer to be able to pick up the next thing to do but during the early days of my internship, I definitely was not thinking that way.

Now I know that embracing the CEO mentality is key to achieving your work and even personal goals to succeed in life. You need to be proactive and take responsibility when handling a project, program or product.

Make lateral connections too

This is something I actually did unintentionally and maybe if I had paid more attention to it, my network would be a lot wider.

The first instinct people usually get when at a new place (work or even events) is to network with people way above them professionally. While that is great, it is always good to remember that networking is a give and take process. This makes it usually a better idea to meet up with people at or close to your level on the ladder.

During my time at Google, my focus was typically on the top guns and high-level managers but I noticed a few things.

  • Firstly, it is way easier to build a genuine relationship with your lateral connections than with people way higher than you on the ladder.
  • Secondly, these relationships last way longer because there is no perceived ulterior motive.

A lot of the people I am currently in contact with at Google are people who were interns, contractees, etc that have now taken a full-time job offer.

I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it is that I have these people in my network because they are just not my contacts but they are my friends.

No Idea is stupid

And this is not for hearing sake. So don’t keep anything in, let your mind roam creatively and feel free to speak at any time.

People actually want to hear your ideas.

I honestly wish I told myself this before my internship!

Getting in means you are smart

Throughout my internship, I realised that I questioned myself and my abilities a whole lot. I sometimes attributed getting in to luck and God’s favour and maybe I was not even that good.

But No! I started to overcome this unhealthy line of thinking after I had a sit down with one of my colleagues who told me close to a thousand people applied for this same role and I got in. This was without knowing anyone at the Google Nigeria office, or even knowing there was an office in Nigeria prior to my applications. I got in because the interviewers saw someone good and smart and capable of adding value and creativity.

What I’m saying here is please never undermine yourself or your abilities. You are good enough and that’s why you are where you are, be it a job role, running a business, etc.

Do things that make you uncomfortable

I need to dedicate a whole post to how this statement from my line manager changed my entire life, even after Google.

During one of our final sessions together, we had a very deep talk about her experiences and how I needed to be more assertive, more proactive because she is 100% sure of the amazing things I could do. She then told me to become more intentional.

You do your best work when you are out of your comfort zone and you need to consciously do one thing everyday that scares you and makes you a tad uncomfortable.

This was supposed to be advice for my remaining days at Google/ the rest of my career but I took it extremely personal. I applied it to different areas of my life and I can’t even begin to explain how it has made me a better person.

I and Lolu

For those looking forward to working at Google, the business internship is a great place to start. I don’t think it’s open now but you can turn on alerts so you are aware once the role has been opened for 2021 internships. Remember that the worst that could happen would be getting rejected and on the other side, you could get accepted so please don’t be scared to apply or feel under-qualified.

You’ve got this!

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