Meet a team of Google internship grads who now live – and work – together, achieving some serious home office and career #goals
Alice Johnson, Gabie Palado, Mitch McDermott and Jordan Griffiths all met as interns at Google Australia in Sydney, and now they all work full-time in cool roles at the global tech giant.
Then in February this year the planets aligned and the four found themselves moving into a shared apartment together – about a month before COVID-19 restrictions kicked in and their pad suddenly doubled as their new workplace!
“We could have set up our desks in our rooms, but we decided for work/life balance to set up our mini office in the main living area,” says Mitch.
“Having the office vibe has really helped maintain productivity in these trying times. We usually take our lunch breaks together and sit out on the balcony, sharing a meal and a yarn.”
Alice studied a Bachelor of Science (Computing and Software Systems) at the University of Melbourne and early on in her degree found she particularly enjoyed programming. She completed a 12-week STEP (Student Training in Engineering Program) internship at Google at the end of her second year.
After graduating, Alice did a Master’s degree focused on a cool application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – using eye-tracking technology to predict when a user is surprised.
Google gig: Alice is a software engineer, developing an ecosystem for ‘AI-first computing’.
While Alice says she can’t go into specifics about her project she says it’s super exciting. “It has the potential to make quite an impact in the tech field.”
Obsessed with: Sewing and knitting. “My goal is to transform my closet into things I’ve made from scratch or upcycled.”
Site Reliability Engineer
Jordan always loved maths but didn’t have a career in mind when he signed up for a Bachelor of Science majoring in maths and physics at the University of Canterbury. Then he took computer science as a first-year elective and loved it, so he added the course as a major.
Then Google visited his uni to advertise their Software Engineering (SWE) internships during his second year he thought it sounded cool – and he was right, he loved the experience.
Google gig: Jordan now works as a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE), responsible “for ensuring all of Google’s services are super reliable and fast,” he explains. “We’re also on call to handle emergency outages, fixing things when they break”.
SREs like Jordan have been described as “the world’s most intense pit crew. We change the tires of a race car as it’s going 100km/h”. But Jordan says he thrives under pressure.
Obsessed with: Skydiving, skiing, climbing, canyoning, adventure racing. “Anything that gets the adrenaline pumping.”
Gabie was first introduced to programming in high school. “I was lucky enough to have a digital technologies class where I learned about web development, databases, robotics and mobile development,” she says.
She loved it so much she signed up for a software engineering degree at Victoria University of Wellington and completed her Honours. In her second year Gabie met a recruiter at a Google outreach event who helped her apply for a 12-week Google STEP Internship in Sydney, during which she worked with the Google Maps team.
Google gig: Gabie works in the Chrome OS team developing the core apps pre-loaded onto Chrome OS devices. She says the best part of her job is working alongside such awesome people. “I feel safe, respected, and encouraged to start conversations, ask questions, and learn from my peers,” she says.
Obsessed with: Dance and music. “I started with ballet when I was four years old and have held onto that passion throughout my life.”
Mitch says he was first introduced to coding when his dad went back to uni to study engineering. “I used to sit under the covers at night with a flashlight to read his programming textbooks and would have a collection of questions to throw at him at breakfast.”
Originally signing up for an electrical engineering degree, Mitch says it took him two years and a Google internship to realise he really wanted to be a software engineer. After interning at Google over successive summers and finishing a Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours) at the University of Queensland, Mitch moved to Sydney to start work at Google full-time in January 2019.
Google gig: Software engineer in Google’s Chrome Operating System (Chrome OS) team. “My day-to-day work is helping to build the applications that are pre-installed on all Chrome OS devices. Some of the apps my team develops are the image editor, video and audio viewers, and even the calculator!”
Obsessed with: Rock climbing. “I can be found at my local bouldering gym six days a week!”
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.