December 1, 2010

What Next?: Google

Ever wonder what it's like to be an engineer at the search giant?

Steven: Check this out: we are right around the corner from Noah Conley. He is a high school student who wants to grow up to become a computer programer. And the number one place he wants to work is Google in California. So, that is exactly where we are going to take him. And as of now, he has no idea.

Alright, Noah, nice to meet you! I am Steven Fabian from Channel One News.

Noah: Hi, Steven!

Steven: I heard you want to be a computer programmer?

Noah: Yes.

Steven: Well, I have got big news because we are sending you to Google in California.

Noah: Really?

Steven: High five!

Noah: Awesome!

Steven: Pack your bags! Let’s go!

Noah: Alright! Great! My room’s this way!

Steven: Then we were on our way to New York’s Kennedy airport for our flight to California. Guess who created the program for this map that shows our route? Google software engineers!

Noah read the whole trip. I caught some Zs.

Noah: I don’t think he opened his eyes once!

Steven: Do you use Google products?

Noah: I use Google all the time, I use gmail, I use Google maps all the time. I’m really interested in trying Google wave, Google TV.

Steven: So, you are Google everything. You are Mr. Google.

Noah: Yeah. I love Google.

Steven: So, we were in the right place for Noah. Google’s main campus in Mountain View, California. The program Google Earth, can pinpoint exactly where we went. See the volleyball court on the map? Here we are walking on it!

Our first stop: meeting with Jordan Newman. Google recently hired him right out of college.

So, me and my buddy Noah here have finally made it to the Google headquarters in California. And looking around, there is T. rex skeleton back here, there is beach volleyball courts over here. This doesn’t feel like, you know, the home of a huge computer company.

Jordan Newman: No, it doesn’t at all. You might notice there are lots of fun and crazy things.

Steven: You could say that again. There is a huge donut!

Jordan: A pool, free bikes for everyone to ride.

Steven: This is a Google bike.

Jordan: Laundry machines, dogs in the office…

Steven: And a 3D Google program that let Noah fly right to his bedroom window.

Noah: There’s my air conditioner!

Steven: And why do they have all this stuff?

Jordan: What we found is that when we create a really fun workspace and a fun work environment, people are creative, and people make products that are really fun and great.

Steven: The people who make the cool products are software engineers and computer programmers.

What is the difference between the two?

Jordan: Creating a complex software program is like constructing a building.

Steven: Software engineers are like architects. They are responsible for the overall vision and plan. Programmers are responsible for parts of the project. Like in construction, someone is in charge of figuring out how to connect the sinks in the bathroom to the water supply.

To learn more about being a programmer or software engineer we scheduled lunch with Google’s Dan Russel.

What do you say we Google him to see what we can find? Oh! There it is right there. He is scuba diving!

Dan Russel: I work at Google. I write, I analyze, I experiment, I try to understand what makes Google users tick.

Steven: Dan has a PhD in computer science and worked at Apple and IBM before joining Google.

Noah: What languages do you use to write the programs for Google?

Dan: Google is primarily created in C++. I think the second largest language is probably Python. If you’re trying to become an engineer at Google knowing C++ is a real plus.

Steven: Programmers use several computer languages to create software. Back to our construction analogy. Each language would be like different building materials like glass, metal and concrete. Just like lots of different elements are used in a building, programmers use lots of different languages to make software.

So, what comes next for Noah? Well, to become a software programmer or engineer, he should take technical courses like math, science and statistics, and join his school’s computer club. And he should get a degree in computer science in college. More and more programmers are also getting masters degrees, which takes two years after college. To take it to the next level, you can even go for a PhD, which is another five to six years beyond college.

“I don’t know how many PhDs we have here but it’s a lot. All my friends are PhDs.”

Steven: Getting a PhD can pay off. Computer programmers who have just a college degree or masters degree earn an average of $75,000 a year. Software engineers earn an average of $100,000. And the ones with PhDs make up to 45% more than those who just have a college degree.

So, has our day inspired Noah to hit the books to try to get a job at Google?

Noah: I think this is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. This is one of the best days I’ve ever had. It definitely changed my perspective on Google, computer science, on life after college, everything.

Steven: So, Noah would definitely like to work here after college but not as a programmer. He would like to be a software engineer.

Noah: I think it’s the perfect field for me. Thanks for sending me to Google, Channel One!


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