For the first time ever on this blog, I am going to write in English, and this is why:
- I am going to write about a very international experience I have been through
- I would like alot of my non Arabic-speaking friends to read this
- The experience had many technical details which would be kind of difficult to be written in Arabic..
So please forgive me, for straying a bit from my usual path on this blog, and writing in English. It would just be the more appropriate language to do justice to the upcomiong 3 posts..
Oh yes.. Three , three, three posts! Well, I know thats alot but I wanted to record the whole experience and not be too long or boring in one post. So 3 posts, one about each aspect:
- For the busy uninterested reader : one post, in buttlet points, what I learnt from the whole experience
- For the CS reader: one post, about all the workshops and the tech talks I took part in
- For the human reader: one post, about the human experience of meeting practically people from over 35 nationalities in one place!
Okay so here goes, POST #1
What is this all about?
A couple of months ago a friend of mine sent an email saying that she came accross this Scholarship offered by Google for female students in Engineering/Computer Science related majors. Back then all what we all thought about was ”yeah Google.. hehe .. like we will ever get it”. Anyway, the application was quite simple, with just a couple of essays about some project you have done, a project you dream of doing, and something that you did that had an impact on someone’s life. As well as your CV, and a couple of recommendation letters. That was about it. We all just thought, what would we lose by just sending? n o t h i n g. So we sent, and forgot all about it..
Two months later I got an email saying, you did NOT get the scholarship (well yeah, not really surprised here 🙂 ) BUT I got to be a finalist, which would mean that I, together with the ones who got the scholarship, are going to spend 3 days in the Google Zurich office, filled with workshops, seminars, tech talks, and just loads of fun!
That got me by surprise 🙂 I was really anxious, really excited, and very much looking forward to it all. I was sure it was going to be one great experience, especially because the agenda included ”Office Tours” of the infamous Google Zurich office 😉 That alone got me excited enough!
Here is the link to the Google Anita Borg Scholarship, I really encourage everyone to apply next year:
Here is what the Zurich office looks like (just to get you excited to read on :P) :
In a nutshell, what we did there:
Since I promised this post would not be so long, I will quickly tell you what we did, excluding all the details 🙂 .
- Met people from over 27 countries, with 35 nationalities
- Mingled with people who did all sorts of interesting stuff from under grad to PhDs
- Tech talks about various Google products (details in post #2)
- Alot and ALOT and alot of food (just have to tell you that Google’s policy states that ”you should not be more than 30 meters away from FOOD!)
- A poster show where everyone presented the most inspiring topics they are working on
- Google Office tours!
- Discovering how working in Google as a software engineer, product manager, researcher, is like
- And just having LOADS of fun around the Google office and around Zurich!
What I learnt:
Ok, it is time for the important stuff.. here is a list of what I hope would be all the lessons I learnt from this wonderful experience.
- The world is so full of amazing, interesting people with potential.. meeting so many people from different cultures, backgrounds, ideologies, with different interests, gives one so much perspective. There is SO much out there.
- It is amazing that with this amount of diversity, we humans can still find alot of common ground and so quickly make so many friends and connect with others.
- Working at a huge company such as Google does NOT mean that your life should revolve around working some 12 hours per day.. on the contrary, balance is what makes those people special.
- To excel in something, be it technical, manegerial, or just even cooking, you have to have passion.
- Talk less, Do more
- You can’t be what you can’t see — I loved this quote. Have an idol, a role model. Because its quite impossible to imagine yourself in some career when you’ve never seen anyone similar.
- It is not the physical disabilities that hinders anyone from being the person they want to be.. rather their lack of will, perseverance, and imagination.. http://www.google.com/studentswithdisabilities-europe/
- Although cultural considerations and norms are important, don’t let them stop you from pursuing your passions.
- It’s okay to be afraid of the future… just don’t obsess too much about it 🙂
- Don’t start a PhD unless you really know what you’re doing
- Envy, greed, bitterness, worry and arrogance are just time wasters..
- Find yourself a hobby
- Don’t underestimate your abilities and yourself based on anything related to where you come from, your skin color/religion/beliefs/physical disabilities etc..
- Knowledge is the only key competence in this world now.. so never stop learning.
- It is NEVER to late .. I met someone who started another bachlor at around 30..
- Stop believing in stereotypes .. they are almost always wrong 🙂
- Having a supportive family is a very important pushing factor towards your success.. don’t drift away from your family..
- Go as wild and as far as possible with your ideas…we already have smart fridges, washers, dryers, flying cars, football-playing robots, 3D movies , blablabla.. can it get any crazier than that? YES it can.. so don’t be limited in your ideas.. the sky is the limit. ( just a glimpse of the LG thinq collection of smart home appliances : http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/09/lgs-thinq-automated-oven-refrigerator-and-washer-dryer-are/ )
- As long as you have the chance, travel alot, see the world ..diversity is very enriching.. but always, think of what you can give back to your country and community..
- and finally… Google is a really inspiring..and cool place to work at 🙂
I think I can write more and more and more.. but I wanted to make this as short, concise and general as I can for the non-tech, busy, uninterested reader 😛 . Anyway, if I perked your interest just a bit, wait for the upcoming posts with more details, more lessons learnt, and the more personal parts of the whole Google Zurich experience 🙂
PS: You can find more about the scholars retreat, the agenda, the application and all those sorts of things here: