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My Path to Google

My Path to Google - Nada Elawad, Software Engineer

Welcome to the latest installment of our blog series “My Path to Google.” These are real stories from Googlers, interns, and alumni highlighting how they got to Google, what their roles are like, and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.


Today’s post is all about Nada Elawad. Read on! 

 
What’s your role at Google?
I am a Software Engineer at YouTube Knowledge, which is the part of YouTube that focuses on building a platform for classifiers and features that increase satisfaction and support our responsibility to viewers, creators and society.

I am also part of the engineering team for Hash Code, which is the biggest team programming competition organized by Google!

Editors note: Hash Code 2020 is coming up on Feb 20! Solve a Google engineering challenge in our annual team coding competition -- learn more and register by Feb 17 at g.co/hashcode.


What I like most about it is how I can see the impact we are making on the world in actual measurable numbers. Also, at YouTube, we get to be in touch with creators (who have thousands and millions of subscribers). These creators have some of the loudest voices in our society today.

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Nada at Google Zürich shortly after joining Google. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. I received a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Ain Shams University. During college and before joining Google, I developed a passion for competitive programming that really made my years in college much more interesting. That passion I owe to the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) community at my university, which was very challenging, yet fun, and pushed me forward.

On the leisure side, I love 3D Puzzles, video games, boats, and electric micromobility vehicles. I am also a huge fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Tarantino movies.

What inspires you to come in every day?
What I like most about Google is how much they care about diversity and inclusion, and how much they care about their employees in general, from providing resources for them to learn and grow to making sure they are having fun and are happy at work.

From a user perspective, what I like most is how they keep all kinds of users from all places and backgrounds in mind when designing or launching a new product, and the way they always act on a global scale, so that everyone can use their products.
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Nada conducts a fireside chat with Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean at the opening of our new Engineering office in Paris. 

Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?

During college, Google was always that magical place that everyone talked about. It was very famous for being the coolest place to work and also the hardest to get into, which made it seem like the recruiting process would be very difficult. 

I had applied for every intern position during my first two years at college, and I was not at all confident I'd get a chance—I didn't at first. My first successful step towards Google was when I applied to attend Inside Look in Zürich, an event that gives university students an inside view at working as a Software Engineer at Google. My application was accepted, but unfortunately my visa was rejected a week before the event. 


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Nada at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. 

How did the recruitment process go for you?

As I was about to start my senior year of college, I was contacted by a Google recruiter following my previous visa rejection, to ask if I would be interested in applying for a full-time position this time — I definitely would! 

Due to travel issues, my recruiter worked with me to conduct the interviews online, for which I was very grateful, and yet worried it might not go as well as if it was onsite. However, my recruiter was amazingly reassuring. I decided to go ahead with my interviews online during final exams of my last semester. A week later I received the most incredible news—and two things got marked off my to-do list: (1) Travel and (2) Get a job at Google.

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Nada relocated from Cairo to Google Paris! 

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?

I wish I had known that Google is not just looking for code-geniuses. Interviewers don’t expect you to go in and solve everything optimally in the first few minutes because that’s not how real problems are solved, but they do care about your thought process, how you approach a problem with a simple solution and move to a better, more optimal solution. This would have made me worry much less about getting everything right during the interviews and increased my confidence during the process.


Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
I mainly used online judges, like CodeForces and TopCoder, on a daily basis to keep a problem-solving mindset. I refreshed my knowledge of data structures and algorithms using various blogs and online resources about getting hired at Google. These helped me get an overview of what I should focus on and not get overwhelmed by all the things I didn’t know. 

Since I had to do my interviews online I mainly used Pramp to practice more effective communication. Also, I remember reading almost every question about working at Google and their recruitment process on Quora, which gave me a sufficiently comprehensive idea of every step along the way.
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Nada at the FIFA World Cup semi finals, which she attended after working on a project related to the World Cup. 

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

Take your time honing your problem-solving skills. Keep an open mind, as Google is a fast-growing, changing, and flexible place, where you can definitely find something to work on that interests you. Don't get discouraged if you don’t make it at first; many great Googlers didn’t get the job on their first few tries.


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