Hey, Google—How Can I Kick-start a Career in Tech?

Google alumni feature graphic dsonmagsp23

by Matt Getty

Looking for a head start on a career at one of today’s tech giants? Dickinson has you covered. Well, Dickinson and Google, that is.

This January, the new Winter Break Career Pathways program gave 30 students a rare inside look at Google to help them get a leg up on building a successful career in data and tech. The daylong event brought them to Google’s New York City offices to meet with several Dickinson alumni who’ve already carved out their own successful paths at the IT leader. (You can read more about this distinctive experience and watch a video on it here.)

But with 16 Dickinson alums working at the search, advertising, media and AI giant, we thought this would be a great opportunity to get some advice on forging a career in data and tech straight from the experts. 

Be Curious

Derek Still ’09 (policy management), Field Sales Representative, Google Cloud

“Be curious and learn how to collaborate across a variety of disciplines. The people who thrive at Google possess an innate curiosity about the world, people and processes around them. They bring this inquisitive approach to problem-solving and embrace others’ opinions as they form their own. The Dickinson education encourages students to explore different fields of study, thus encouraging us to act on our curiosity about the world. The result is one of the reasons why there are so many alumni leading successful careers here at Google.”

Peter Hass ’16 (American studies), Digital Strategy Lead

“Ask a lot of questions, take a lot of different classes, and become good at problem-solving. At Dickinson you’re able to do that. I was an American studies major, but I took econ classes, environmental science classes, so many different types of classes that really piqued my interests. And I think that me just being an innately curious person has helped me get to Google by asking questions and just unlocking new doors and trying to find out what’s next. And then as you learn more about these different areas, try to develop your ability to take problems apart from different angles. I think Google really likes to hear about how people problem-solve. I remember during my interview, one of the questions was, if you were going to open up a bakery, how would you do it? And it’s such a random question, but they really just want to hear about how you think through different problems and the steps that you would take. So the more critical thinking you’ve done about different subjects and from different perspectives, the better prepared you’ll be.”

Adapt & Grow

Kailey Zengo ’18 (political science; women’s, gender & sexuality studies), Data and Privacy Program Manager

“I like the notion of being ‘coachable,’ and I think that definitely applies to having a successful career at a place like Google. Coaches tell their players that if you’re coachable, you can be just as valuable as the most talented player on the team, and that’s something I’ve found with a lot of the mentors and managers I’ve had at Google. If you’re willing to put in your work, you can go far. So even if you maybe don’t have the technical experience that checks off every single box right now but you’re smart and you’re adaptable and you can show that you’re willing to learn and work hard, then you can do well. Ultimately, I think that’s more valuable than just checking a bunch of boxes, especially at a place like Google.”

Mitch Andres ’18 (policy management), Account Executive

“Try to get as many internships as you can, and then try to use those experiences to refine your job search. Internships aren’t just great for your resume, but they’ll allow you to dip your toes in one area, and then you can say to yourself, ‘Hey, this is what I liked about the job; this is what I didn’t like about the job.’ Then look for your next internship based on what you liked and what you didn’t like. So as you move along, you’re not just getting experience under your belt, but you’re also refining what kind of role you want. There are so many different jobs in tech, and this way you’ll be able to not just find a job in tech after you graduate but the right job for you.”

Google site visit

Reach Out

Spyro Karetsos ’96 (policy management), Chief Compliance Officer

“Don’t be shy. Reach out to alums in the field and ask for help. As alumni, we really care about the students at Dickinson, and we’re here for you. If you need to put us in your pingable network and ask us questions or reach out to us on LinkedIn, we’re ready to help you along your career path. And that’s not only because we want to help fellow Dickinsonians, but it’s also because as alums, we know how well prepared you are with a Dickinson education that is extremely well-rounded. It’s amazing for a small school to have so many alums at an organization like Google, so we spend a lot of time reaching out to each other, helping each other, enabling each other. And we also look forward to helping Dickinson students so that they can have great careers in the future.”

Brian Jankovsky ’99 (American studies), Director of Entertainment and Streaming Partnerships

“Use the Dickinson network as much as you can. Even if you don’t hear back from all the people you reach out to, when it comes to the ones who do answer, you’re going to find an advocate, and that’s really important. I’ve relied on it in my own job searches, so I take every single email, every single call, and I think you’ll find other people like that. Then, once you get your foot in the door and you have the chance to interview, really practice your story. I think that’s the most important thing in an interview. I usually ask the same five or six questions, and most people’s answers are somewhat similar. But to me, what really stands out is the story you tell about yourself—who you are, what you’re passionate about, why you want this job in particular, and what you can bring to it.”

Read more from the spring 2023 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published May 11, 2023