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University of New South Wales
Richard studied Bachelor of Computer Science at University of New South Wales
What's your job about?
Our mission statement says: Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Considering how much we do, it’s spot on! I’m a Software Engineer here, so we're building and contributing to systems and software millions, if not billions, of people use, every single day.
It’s super hard to pin down one thing I’m doing every day, but it’s always about solving new problems coming your way. You get to work with absolutely amazing people and tech, and together bring projects from inception to design and through to reality. And importantly, having your say to make a difference.
The craziest part really is the “millions, if not billions” bit. I still haven’t shaken off that surreal feeling every time I see something I’ve contributed to out there in the wild!
What's your background?
I was born and raised in Sydney, where computers fascinated me from a super early age. The first time my parents took me to one of their friend’s homes, they showed me this absolutely bonkers home setup, where it felt like everything was linked to their computer. They’d click a button wired up to that beige box of theirs, and little me gasped as the lights went on and off. Another click, and I rushed out to the garage and just stood there in awe as the door whirred and opened up in front of me!
That captivation took me down the long road of experimenting with computers, and seeing what crazy things I could make happen. In primary and high school, I began tinkering more and more with making little apps and games, and was absolutely set on doing computing in university.
Eventually, I had the incredible opportunity to take an internship here at Google, in the Maps team. It was an absolute blast… not just because of the free food, but because of the awesome people and impact I could make. I then applied for the full time position, and the rest is history.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely! I’ve seen lots of people without much of a background in coding start from first year uni, and by third year I’m absolutely awed by what they’ve achieved. What helps tons is a passion for learning new stuff, an open mind, and a collaborative mindset.
Computing education is more and more accessible these days, and there’s a vast sea of awesome resources on how to get started. The rise of the internet has also made it much easier to collaborate with people all around the world. Those, and that hunger to keep learning and doing will propel you amazingly far.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I’ve already mentioned some of my favourite things already! I’d have to say for not only my experiences as a grad, but as an intern too, the amount of trust and freedom we show in each other from leadership and employees is fantastic. You feel valued, and encouraged to keep growing, and that motivates you to do your best work.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
- Breathe. Learn to have moments of stillness. All those bus rides you’ve been glued to Facebook? Start simple. Try putting the phone away, look out the window, let yourself be bored, and give your mind a break.
- Speaking of starting simple, exactly that! Lots of things do look tough at first. But if you take them on, one bit at a time, they really do come together.
- Oh yeah, and if it was first year me: I know you want to go, just join those clubs already! It feels super scary, but you’ll be fine. You’re going to meet so many amazing people, and have a blast.