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University of Waikato
Sara studied Bachelor of Computer and Mathematical Science at University of Waikato
What's your job about?
I’ve been working as a software engineer at Google Sydney for just over three years. I started working on Google maps, but now I’m part of a team focussing on products for the emerging markets. Over the next 3 years, 1 billion people will start using the internet for the very first time -- across Asia, Africa, and South America. They're excited about using the internet for the same reasons that we are: to talk to friends, to be entertained, to find information, and to get things done. However, the tools available and the day-to-day environment can be very different in Delhi than they are in Australia. The goal of our team is to build awesome products that are particularly useful for these next billion users. We face a bunch of interesting engineering challenges around making great products that work well on low end phones and reliably over unreliable internet connections. My role as a Software Engineer involves designing and writing a lot of code which really exercises your problem solving skills (and is usually pretty creative and fun!).
What's your background?
I grew up in Hamilton, New Zealand and lived there until I moved to Sydney for my job. I attended high school at Fairfield College and then went onto university at the University of Waikato. I studied a Bachelor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences which was a four year degree and took honours in my final year. I was always interested in math and am also very creative. I actually started university studying a Bachelor of science majoring in Environmental Science and took a few electives in Computer Science. After a semester I knew that Environmental Science wasn’t for me, but that Computer Science was the perfect intersection of problem solving and creative thinking.
I held a bunch of different jobs while at university, but in the later years of my degree I worked at a local Internet Service Provider in Hamilton (Lightwire Ltd). I worked as a development intern there over a few summers and built some an internal dashboard tool that allowed us to better monitor how the company was running. I applied for the job at Google in my final year of university after they visited our campus, I was encouraged to apply by a friend who worked here which is fortunate because I needed the extra push (applying to Google really isn’t as scary as it seems!).
Could someone with a different background do your job?
The tech industry really thrives on the diversity of ideas, so I think it’s great when other people on my team have different backgrounds from me. It allows us to each bring our unique perspective to the problems we’re solving and work together to build better solutions and better products for our users. My job as a Software Engineer is pretty technically focussed, so does require programming ability, but I think some programming ability will be useful for a lot of jobs in the future!
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I think the coolest thing about working for Google is working on impactful products that people know and love. The teams here really encourage individuals to contribute their ideas and suggestions right from the day you arrive, so there’s plenty of opportunity to add your own flare to the product you work on.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
- Eat less two minute noodles
- Apply for more things - there’s plenty of awesome opportunities available while you’re at university (internships, scholarships, opportunities to study abroad) and they’re all great ways to experience new things and build new skills, so just apply! You won’t get anything you don’t apply for.
- The things that seem the toughest are the ones that you learn the most from, so when things feel hard that’s when you know it’s worthwhile!