Should I do my master or get some work experience? This question was haunting me as my bachelor studies were coming to an end.
I was having a small “life crisis” and for two whole weeks I was obsessed with the question of what to do next.
On one hand I wanted to get some real life experience after studying for three years in my home city Buenos Aires followed by another 18 months in Maastricht and spending two semesters abroad in Singapore’s NUS and Aachen’s RWTH.
On the other hand, the only company that really interested me at that time was Google, but everyone was telling me it would be impossible to get into it.
Since I like challenges, I decided to send in my application before returning to Argentina. I got through a few phone interviews and was invited to the European HQ in Dublin for more interviews.
I was told that I would be kept informed on the outcome and I flew back to Argentina. Six weeks later I was visiting my girlfriend (a UM alumna) who was doing an exchange programme at the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, Peru. I heard the good news as we were standing in the parking lot of a small supermarket and we celebrated right there jumping and screaming, next to a group of puzzled or scared Peruvians.
Embracing all learning opportunities
I moved to Dublin two months later and started working in the support team for AdWords customers in Spain. This is a common entry level position where newcomers are able to get a deep understanding about Google products and online marketing in general.
The first thing I noticed in the Dublin office is its international atmosphere, since it covers all of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, It’s not uncommon to hear 40+ different languages as you walk through the building.
And it’s not only the people. I also worked from different offices for special projects or events. and was able to visit the Google offices in Buenos Aires, Madrid, London, Wroclaw, San Francisco and the global HQ in Mountain view, where I stood in line in the canteen next to Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. (Yes, they have to queue like everyone else.)
At Google I had the chance to get involved and learn from a variety of teams. This was a great way to acquire an experience in other areas of the business and get a better understanding of it.
A few months after starting at Google, I was able to arrange for some Google representatives to participate in a career day event in Maastricht, which I also attended as one of the presenters.
It was great to see things from the other side only a few months after graduating.
I was also given training regarding recruitment procedures and had the opportunity to conduct several interviews for the HR department, both on the phone and on-site. This allowed me to meet very talented and interesting people, some of whom joined my team later on.
One year later I switched to another team that focused more on consultative sales. There my job consisted in giving advice to SMBs on how best to improve their online marketing strategy. In this team I had the chance to pilot some of the latest solutions that Google offers in the field of online marketing together with a global team made up of Irish, Polish, American and Indian colleagues. (Always tricky to schedule VC meetings with people living in these time zones).
Award winning video: Cultural Glasses
As a side project, I also became involved with the Learning and development (L&D) department where I volunteered as a part time trainer. I gave full day trainings about AdWords to newcomers once a month on average. SBE presentations skills came in very handy here. The feedback was great and I enjoyed giving presentations so six months later I switched to the CSI (Creative skills for innovation) team. This team uses the “Design Thinking” methodology, developed at Stanford University, to spark innovation in any kind of challenge that teams in Google may face.
I learned a lot from this team and after some time I had the opportunity to facilitate an innovation workshop for the services department’s global leadership team, with regional leaders flying in from all over Europe, North America, India and Japan. The experience was as stressful as it was rewarding.
Celebrating cultural diversity
Getting involved in so many projects is challenging but it has great benefits too.
Being invited to take part in the global L&D summit in Mountain View was a great way to meet face to face the people we were collaborating with via VC. This trip included a surprise visit to Stanford University, where we joined an innovation workshop together with representatives from Apple and Prezi (who attended via VC from Budapest). It was a unique experience.
The global diversity summit was another one. I had started a diversity group called “One World Project” in Dublin in order to celebrate cultural diversity in the office. We organized country presentations hosted by a native presenter and special treats such as an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and Russian caviar or Argentinian “Mate” tea tasting events. The group became very popular and reached over 400 registered members within the first three months. Thanks to the help of UM alumna Judith Enders, we later added language tandem classes and group conversation days.My passion for travelling and foreign cultures gave me a chance to present at a TEDx event in our Wroclaw office in Poland.
Another passion of mine is video making. I was able to develop my skills a bit further at Google too. First I was pleasantly surprised when two years in a row my videos won the first prize in an internal “Google commercials” competition organized during our annual sales conference. Seeing the public (over 3000 Googlers) cheering and voting for my creations gave a boost to my self-confidence in film directing and encouraged me to take part in two other external competitions, which I also won. (Cultural Glasses & 40 countries)
After my second year at Google, the internal communications team of my department (SMB sales) asked me to help them in creating video content on a regular basis. I accepted and in my spare time I started a project to create educational videos for our customers too. Over a dozen of them can be seen in our official Youtube channel for Spain.
One of the last things I got the chance to do was a three months rotation in the Social Action team, the corporate social responsibility department in Google’s European HQ. This team’s mission consists in giving something back to the community in the surrounding area and supporting NGOs in the region through a variety of programmes. The main focus at the time was the Age Engage programme which aims to reduce the digital gap by increasing internet literacy among people aged over 50. During my time in this team I focused on improving the internal communications and recruitment of volunteers for the programme.
It’s hard to summarize everything I learned during these two years at Google. I do know for sure that the teaching methodology I discovered at Maastricht University – working in small groups and giving frequent presentations in an international atmosphere – helped me make a smooth transition into the very similar Google way of working.
Overall one of the best things from my working experience at Google was the amount of talented people I was privileged enough to work with.
We now form a strong network and I am sure that we will help each other again in the future. I say this because I am not working at Google anymore. I left the company two weeks ago to enjoy the prize I won at the last video competition, a USD 16,000 travel voucher for two.
Award winning video: I am Intrepid – 40 Countries, 1 student Budget
Life is an adventure
After some months travelling in Africa I intend to go back to Maastricht to do a master in entrepreneurship and hopefully try my luck in this field afterwards. Doing what I still don’t know for sure, but that will be in two years from now, which is roughly the same amount of time that has passed since I first joined Google and so many things happened, so who can tell really?
I try to stay open at all times and make the most of the opportunities that come my way.
I know this will sound cheesy and you are free not to believe me, but as a matter of fact, as I am typing these words, I am flying somewhere over Mozambique where my girlfriend and I will do our first stop in our four month trip from Capetown to Cairo. The captain has just announced in Ethiopian that we need to get ready for landing. Perfect timing to finish this article and close my netbook. If you are interested in our adventure follow us on www.somehowitravel.com.
By Nicola Bori
Nicolás Bori is an SBE alumnus who went on to work for Google’s European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. In June 2012, Nicolás won an award for a video that he created “40 countries, 1 student budget”. The prize was a USD 16.000 travel voucher that he is currently using to fly from Capetown to Cairo in four months.