An Attainable Goal [Part 3 of 3]

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Rutgers-Newark Fellow Callyn Iwuala and San José Fellow Giavanna Vega reflected last week on their cohorts’ visits to Google. In the final installment of this series, Fall 2015 San José State Fellow Jalil Ahmad shares how what he saw and heard at Google impacted his view of the company and a potential future there.

By Jalil Ahmad, Braven San José State University Fellow, Student at San José State University


SJSU Fellow Jalil AhmadAnd the winning team is #unlockingpotential!” My cohort had just won the Braven SJSU Capstone Challenge and, with it, a tour of one of the most innovative companies in the world. My birthday was that very same weekend, and this was by far the best gift I had ever received.

Walking into Google, I was immediately shocked to see many people of color: specifically, people who looked like me. I know and am glad that many tech companies are focused on increasing the diversity of their staff and the inclusiveness of their workplaces. That said, seeing black Googlers throughout the day made the environment and the overall experience much more comfortable for me.

The Google bikes, fancy devices, and free food from their cafeteria were all great, but by far the most memorable and captivating part of the tour was getting the chance to sit down with Google employees (three of whom were black women) and hear their stories: something that Braven stressed from beginning to end as an important skill to have. Their stories also caught me by surprise: most were born into circumstances far from a silver spoon and some had graduated from college with majors that were completely unrelated to their current roles.

This led me to ask one of the recruiters: “What does it mean to be ‘Googley’?” Her answer? “Google looks for smart people with integrity.” She didn’t mention 4.0 GPAs, graduate degrees from top tier schools, or years of work experience–just good, smart people. That put things into perspective for me. Google is a company that truly cares about helping people and changing the world and does this by hiring genuine, authentic people who have more to offer than just superficial credentials. For me, it made Google a realistic, attainable goal in the future.

More than anything, I think Braven made this a helpful experience by allowing us to hear everyone’s story. It taught me that everyone has their own unique journey they’ve taken to get where they are today, so making assumptions only hinders your ability to learn from someone with a different perspective. Not only should you be able to tell your own story, but you should also be able to listen to someone else’s. Both are equally important.

SJSU Google Visit