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 Alex Grant. Read on!
I was in the first Information Engineering cohort at West Point and focused on using cognitive psychology and human-computer interaction to create solutions with technology. After five years in the Army I knew I wanted to work in tech. I started at Google in 2015, and now live in Washington and work in the Kirkland office.
What’s your role at Google?
I’m a Partner Operations Manager for Google My Business, which means I supervise the support we offer to agency customers and contribute ideas for improving the product. The leadership skills I developed in the military are vital in my day-to-day work coordinating teams across two cities.
You recently returned to Savannah to help out at a Grow with Google event. What was that experience like?
Yes, I was stationed in Savannah as a transportation officer for five years during my military service.
Helping the Savannah community through the Grow With Google program was so inspiring and gratifying. It’s a dream opportunity and what I care about most. I was so happy to see the growing community of small business owners that will help introduce Savannah to the rest of the world. Working with veterans was particularly satisfying; I devote some of my personal time to aiding transitioning vets, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to support them with Grow with Google.
It’s often assumed that people looking for jobs have the skills needed to navigate the process. Grow with Google invites people to learn the most important skills, gets them started with resources, and gets them used to engaging with people in tech communities. Every time we have an event, someone who thought that tech wasn’t for them might change their perception of what they can do.
What inspires you to come in every day?
When veterans leave the military, one of the big losses they face is the sense of camaraderie that comes with that community. When I started at Google, I got some of that back. I feel like I’m part of something positive and my coworkers make every day count. They are really the difference between Google and everywhere else. There’s a huge amount of pride that comes from people of this caliber relying on you to lead.
How did you decide to apply?
The truth is that there wasn’t a clear pathway to Google when I left the military. I had offers from conventional companies but didn’t want to work in the energy or defense industries. Military recruitment firms typically try to hire officers into supervisor and manufacturing jobs, so at the time I really had to invent a new path.
At first I worked in fulfillment at Amazon and tried to make my way to headquarters. There wasn’t an opportunity to grow so I transferred to a startup and gave myself a deadline — I would either get a job at Google or move back home and supervise a warehouse. I got in touch with recruiters at Google and was connected to Courtney, who was actively reaching out to veterans. She helped me find the right role to apply to and introduced me to Monica, the recruiter who ultimately offered me my job. It was a long journey for me and now I’m passionate about helping others in my position find their way here.
How did you prepare for your interviews?
I was extremely prepared when I finally went in for interviews. A few steps I took to get ready:
- I referenced a lot of job descriptions and did informational interviews to learn what my resume should look like and how my military experience could translate in the civilian world.
- I prepped for and attended career conferences to practice interviewing, build confidence, and compare offers. During these conferences, I practiced telling my most powerful stories from my Army service.
- I read about Google’s culture and hiring practices in Eric Schmidt’s book, “How Google Works” and another called “I’m Feeling Lucky.” Reading about Google helped me create context with my interviewers and show that I was very familiar with Google’s culture. Today, there is a newer book called “Work Rules” that has great content about hiring.
What’s your advice to others applying to Google?
My greatest dream is that someone who is in the same position I was five years ago will read this and use these resources to find a job. When I was getting ready I looked around for anecdotes but they were hard to find. Here are my tips:
- After you figure out what job you want, take time to learn about similar and related jobs, including lower-level positions that may feed into that specific role.
- Promote yourself. In the military we are used to giving credit and celebrating success as a team, but it is critically important for you to share your specific impact on the team’s success.
- Be data-driven. Show results on your resume or cover letter by using real data to show impact, whenever possible.
- Network! Use all of the help that you can find in your local or alumni network, both for informational interviews, and referrals where appropriate.