Interviewer: Tell us about your association with Google.
I interned with Google last year from January till August. I was working in Googleplex in the headquarters in Mountain View.
Interviewer: What kind of work did you do over there?
I was primarily working on web development, development of reusable language selection components with various Google pages.
Interviewer: Did your team have any work to do with the Google search engine? Any kind of work directly related to the search engine?
Yes, because I was working on the internationalization team and the team tries to expand Google search and various Google products into different countries. They have been trying to expand Google into Thai or Google into Cambodian and all those different languages.
Interviewer: Can you tell me, in laymanís terms, the kind of work that you did. You were telling me something about putting language scripts into different languages. So can you elaborate on that?
Mine was selection of languages. You cannot give a language written in English, for example Vietnamese to a Vietnamese person who doesnít know English and expect them to be able to choose English and you cannot provide them a long list to give them dialects and languages to choose from. So it might help to have users easily choosing and navigating regions and finding out what languages they want to read. The language they choose based on the image they choose is always written in the same script, not in English, obviously.
Interviewer: This work was for all Google products? For the search engine, Gmail?
Yes, it is expected to be for all Google products.
Interviewer: What about the organization? Google itself. You were at the headquarters. Tell us about that.
It was a lot of fun, with a lot of activities. The people are great. In particular itís the people you end up remembering. The people at Google are really smart. Google has a very good culture where people go an extra mile to help everyone. Itís just awe-inspiring really.
Interviewer: We hear so much about Googleplex itself. Tell us something about Googleplex.
Itís a lot of fun. Specifically for interns. I seldom went back home. I used to go back home to sleep but most of my day was spent there. Even if I wasnít working I was either playing pool or playing something with my friends. Or hanging around someone who is playing the Grand piano. So, even if I stopped working at 5, I would probably go home at 1 am after playing a lot of different things.
Interviewer: Now, Google is in the news a lot regarding privacy issues and regarding how much information it retains. Working as an intern at Google, do you have anything to say about Googleís policy about peopleís data.
I am very very confident that they try and keep the data that they have very safe. For my work also I had to do a lot of data analysis. I know that there are way too many checks and balances and a lot of permission seeking involved if you need access to any sort of data. Personal data of any individual is impossible to get. Effectively, I donít think data is so insecure. Even if Google has the data, itís not like it is in wrong hands or people are going to abuse it or the employees have access to it. There is nothing like that. There are many sound checks and balances preventing all of that.
Interviewer: Google retains the data for use. So it obviously retains the data for use eventually. So when Google uses the data, how does it protect the data from the employees who are using that data?
Largely Google tries to improve the experience of all the users. So, they have to do collective analysis of data. So what I do doesnít really matter as much as say what the whole of Singapore does along with me. So in order to improve the experience of the whole of Singapore, they will collectively analyze all the data. Itís not like they will know what I am doing, they just need to know what the trend is, so that they can improve it further. So they do not access personal data.
Interviewer: Finally, we know that there are a lot of web search engines out there. What did Google do right that it is so much ahead of its competitors in Live Search and Yahoo? As an intern, or as in ex-employee of Google, what do you think they did right?
Well, they have very strong algorithms to start with, which is when they started the company. So that gave them an edge at the time over the other existing search engines. And since then they have been really really driven to reduce the amount of time that it takes to search, or to improve the user experience, or not to overwhelm the users, give them a simple interface and all those kind of things. Everything matters. They try to reduce the time as much as possible. So even 0.005 for a search is not ideal. For them, ideal is probably zero. So they are constantly trying to improve the search experience and the search ability of the users.
They donít seem to be complacent about the fact that they hold a huge lead over their contemporaries right now, they are still trying to improve it. That is one thing that has worked in their favour.
Weíve seen that apart from that, diversifying with Gmail and all the other products also helps them to be such a successful company.