In February 2016, I am starting my Google Marketing Internship. Google – the most desired employer in the world.
Me getting this position is a huge coincidence and I am so thankful that I applied for it!
To get this internship, it took 2 months, about 25 exchanged emails, 1 mock interview, 2 real interviews, 1 borrowed bedroom, 3 phone calls and plenty of support from friends.
There are basically two ways how you can apply for the position:
- The easiest one is to fill in their online forms, send your CV and wait for an email.
- Google often holds seminars, sometimes you get lucky enough to visit their offices at in-house days or you can meet them at career forums. Talk to their employees/recruiters whenever you get a chance! Do add them on linkedin, follow them on Twitter etc. as well.
I have not been searching for a position at Google actually. My story is therefore a bit different. I was just lucky enough to browse Twitter when I saw someone retweeting a tweet from Google’s Marketing Director, David:
‘I am looking for a bright student for a full-time paid position at Google. Send me an email with your CV!’
Wait. I knew David. He gave a lecture at our university a year ago about Google’s way of marketing. Wait again. No motivation letter? Oh yes! I was a bit uncomfortable with the ‘full-time’ part, but I decided to ignore it and send out my CV. What were my chances anyway? I still remember when I was applying for my current masters, CEMS, the recruiters told me my CV was among the worst they have received. I did re-structure it since then but still.. I bet there are much more clever, amazing, witty people applying for Google! Why would they choose me, right?
But as I said, I sent out my application. The email looked like this:
Subject: [Application for the Student Internship at Google]
I remember you from the lecture ‘Google – the secret of online marketing’ which you gave at the University of Economics last October. It left me very enthusiastic.
My goal is to have a career in marketing. Therefore having an opportunity to intern at Google would be a great step forward. I really want to get this position, I am willing to work even without any remuneration. My CV is attached.
Have a great day,
Now that I am reading it again, I probably would omit some sentences and add more, but at the time of sending this, I did not believe I would stand any chance anyway. I just like trying stuff. It doesn’t cost you anything.
David replied an hour later (lord praise the people who reply that fast!), saying thanks for the email and that they are still in the process of collecting CVs and will get back to me later.
A month passed. I slowly forgot everything.
Then I received an email from Laura, which later turned out to be my contact person and recruiter. She was super sweet and informal. She asked me to fill in an additional online form, which basically asked me to upload my CV again, state my availability and to be more concrete which internship I would be interested in (you can choose between Marketing, IT, Sales, People operations…).
A week later.
Laura messaged me that she has great news: they liked my CV! Now it was time they set up my two interviews, so I had to state in detail my time availability for the upcoming week. I was going to be interviewed by David and by someone I did not know, Ilona. Yes, they do tell you the names of your interviewers! Which is the greatest advantage you can get. Because now I could google them. With David it was easy, I just re-watched the lecture he gave at our school and was luckily filmed. After that I knew quite well how the guy thinks. I could not google much about Ilona, but she does have a LinkedIn profile, so I checked that out.
In addition to me snooping around, I also took one extra step forward. Because now that I got to the next round, shit got serious! With CEMS, we have a thing called GAMP – CEMS Global Advisory & Mentoring Platform. There you can find CEMS alumni and where they work or used to work. If they have any connection to the company you want to apply for, you can ask them some random questions, have a mock interview or have your CV checked. I found one perfect match, Tobias, who worked at Google for 7 years, as a recruiter. What more could I ask for? He was super nice and agreed to give me half an hour of his time to practise for the interview.
Later when the interviews happened, I was much less nervous. First interview with David went very well. The day I was supposed to talk to Ilona, it was Black Friday. All the interviews are held by Google Hangout, by the way. So that day, at 12 pm, I was trying to join the call. However, even after 15 mins, I could not. I was freaking out! If that happens to you, you have to email the recruiter. This interview was set up by Kha, so I emailed him. Bummer. He was on holidays. Then I noticed an email address he attached ‘in case of emergency’. At that moment, it felt like a great emergency indeed! So I emailed there.
In two minutes, Jenna called me. She was the sweetest! She calmed me down and said I was the third person that this happened to today. Apparently there was something wrong with the Google Hangout system. And on top of that, many of the employees were not at work because they got holidays from Google, probably for the Black Friday Sales. UH. So then she rescheduled the interview I was supposed to have with Ilona for the following week, because Ilona did not have time that day anymore.
Funny enough, at the time when I was supposed to have interview with Ilona, I had to be on campus at school. I could probably bike home (remember, I was on exchange in Rotterdam), but I would be sweaty and disgusting for the interview (yes, the video mode is on). So I had to ask my schoolmate, who lived on school campus, if I could come and use her bedroom for the interview. And she agreed (thanks, Britta!), but she warned me that there is construction work going on next to the campus and if they start drilling, probably I won’t hear my interviewer. Really awesome, I thought, but at that point, I could not do anything anymore. However, me being lucky as always, the construction work began ten minutes after the interview was over.
Then I waited one whole week for Laura to contact me again. It felt like forever, especially because I was used to her sending me emails every two days. And when she finally did, she said:
‘Hi Thuy! Great news! You are the preferred candidate for the position! Could you please specify your … Send me your transcript of records, passport scan… etc. etc.?’
This confused me. Should I be celebrating that I am the preferred candidate? Why can’t she say if I am in or not? Can I start celebrating already?
Two days after I sent out all the documents, I looked at my phone. One missed call from an unknown number. I usually ignore those as no one calls me at my Dutch number, except my boyfriend and people from Dutch National Lottery, which is a huge scam. But then I noticed the number started with +353, which is an Irish calling code. And holy molly, who has a HQ in Dublin? Among others, Google.
Useful advices I learnt from Tobias and later from my interviews:
- Google assess candidates by a STAR model. That means when they ask you something, you answer by describing them an exemplary Situation, relevant to the question you were asked, what was your Task, your Action and then Results. This information was also provided to me by Laura. Your recruiter usually sends you a lengthy email with how to prepare for the interviews. It makes sense, as Google is infamous for keeping track of numbers, data and results.
- When they are asking why did you choose Google, don’t say because you love Google. Everybody does. They appreciate if you show interest in the position itself, for example: ‘This position is perfect for me because I really enjoy marketing, I see it as a way how to help people with their decisions.’
- Important is not only what they ask you, but what you ask them. Nice question to ask them is: ‘How did you get to Google? What did you do before?’ Everybody loves to ramble about themselves.
- They do ask classic questions such as:
- ‘When did you show your leadership skills?’
- ‘When did you solve some problem during a group work creatively?’
- ‘What do you consider your greatest achievement in your personal life?’
- ‘What do you think will be most challenging for Google in the upcoming years? -> How would you solve it?’
- Sometimes they ask quirky questions, especially David was very informal and it felt more like a friendly chat:
- ‘Which programme from the Microsoft Office Pack do you prefer the most? Which one the least? Why?’
- ‘How do you see the future of advertising?’
Two days later, Laura gave me a call again. I got the job. I was so excited, I forgot to eat my lunch. Twice. Life is awesome.
P.S. To those interested, I could not convince them to give me a part-time position, as I wished for. They indeed needed a full-time person. However, Google being as awesome as they are, they agreed I could attend the necessary lectures at school as long as I fulfil my duties at Google. So no worries. If they really like you, they will be willing to adapt to your conditions. :)