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Think big and solve the world’s problems: Google employees share career tips at showcase event

More than 100 students toured Google, heard career stories and tips and met future mentors at an event celebrating 10 years of Careers with STEM this week

A panel of Googlers joined Refraction Media founders Heather Catchpole and Karen Taylor-Brown to talk about how they landed their awesome jobs, and the advice they’d offer students considering future careers.

“We learnt about the variety of careers that are available to us in STEM, so not only computer engineering but also mathematicians and cyber security,” said one student.

“We were inspired by the panel and their career pathways and all the different ways of getting to work at Google that were not just going to university and studying computers.”

Like Google chief technologist Natalie Piucco, who didn’t do a ‘traditional’ tech degree. Instead, she studied a Bachelor of Business for a unique combination of skills she calls her “superpower”.

Today, Natalie is working with some of Australia’s most successful companies, like Canva, to help them build AI into their businesses.

She recently helped Canva build a tool that creates images from text, so you can type “dog on a beach” in text and it will create an image using Google’s AI technology. 

Students loved visiting all the showcase stands. Image by Lauren Trompp

All the skills you need

Students attending the event also said they were inspired by the flexibility on offer working for companies like Google, and learned “how important soft skills are in STEM”.

Google tech lead Dominick Ng said “There used to be a huge divide between ‘are you a creative arty person, or are you a scientific mathematical engineering person?’ and you pick one or the other.”

“That’s not really the case anymore.”

Dominick said while the individual technical skills you pick up through uni or other study were one thing, “It’s the soft skills, the teamwork, communication, group work, that are going to set you up no matter what field you are because this is exactly the same across STEM and across almost everything that we do now.”

“Being able to work well in a group and communicate and lead is a superpower that will never let you down.”

Dominick’s advice for students considering a career in technology is to think about the world’s biggest problems.  

“Think about the big challenges that are coming up, and which of those inspire you, that you feel passionate about and driven to try to solve. And take the tools available to you now that maybe people haven’t thought about applying to those problems.”

Google security engineer Harrison Mbugi said when he was in high school he had no idea he would end up working in his current role. “I wasn’t even sure that I would do anything related to technology”.

But when his mum bought him a laptop and he got connected to the internet he became super interested in understanding how communication happens.

That curiosity has stayed with him, into his current role making sure data is protected.

Google senior software engineer Sara Schaare-Weeks shared her career story. Image by Lauren Trompp

Rounding off the panel, Google technical lead Sara Schaare-Weeks said events and mentors were two ways to help build a career in tech. Sara found her job at Google by attending an event at the company when she was still studying.

And, she says, “People are quite willing to give a hand up, so if you have questions you’d like answered or would like some mentoring or knowledge on how to grow, just reach out to people.”

For more on the Googlers at the event and other inspiring tech careers, check out the latest issue of Careers with STEM: Technology!

And sign up for our STEM + X: Technology webinar coming up soon.

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