Opportunity Knocks

| October 27, 2011
Sebastian Bergmann | courtesy photo The Googleplex courtyard in Mountain View, Calif.

Sebastian Bergmann | courtesy photo The Googleplex courtyard in Mountain View, Calif.

What’s it like working for a company that processes more than a billion search requests every day and runs more than a million servers in data centers around the world? Well, you could Google that answer, or just ask two graduates of duPont Manual High School, who recently completed internships with the Internet giant estimated as one of the top-visited websites in the United States.

Nora Grossman, Manual Class of 2011, and Nick Fishman, Manual Class of 2008, interned at Google this past summer. Grossman, a freshman at the College of Charleston, attended Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute, which is offered to incoming freshman interested in a computer science degree. Fishman, on the other hand, completed his second internship with Google at the Mountain View, Calif., campus, also known as the Googleplex.

Nora Grossman.

Nora Grossman.

“I had taken programming classes in high school but never done anything like this,” Grossman said. “It was really cool to see a program from start to finish. (Google had) a really open community of people and there’s always cool stuff going on.”

With the CSSI program, Grossman spent three weeks studying web application development. During that time, she had the opportunity to work with Google engineers and built a web app for the Internet. Last year, 24 of the 25 students who attended the CSSI program went on to declare a major in computer science, which is one of Google’s chief goals for the internship.

“I have not declared a major, but I’m on track to be a computer science major,” Grossman said. “Two years ago, I never even knew what computer science was. It was a foreign concept. I left with a sense that anyone can be in computer science. Anyone can do anything they set their mind to. It was something new that I discovered about myself.”

Fishman is a senior computer science major at Cornell. It wasn’t his years in college that helped him discover his interest in computers, though. While at Manual, Fishman began studying technology and went on to design two programs the high school still uses to this day.

“My experience at Manual was really formative,” Fishman said. “I was really fortunate because I ran into a teacher, Todd O’Bryan. He’s kind of been my mentor since I was a freshman. I approached him about getting into computers and technology. He decided to teach me the introductory computer class over the summer that sophomores usually take.”

With the help of O’Bryan, Fishman was able to take the AP computer science class as a sophomore that is geared toward juniors, which allowed Fishman free time to work on two key programs at Manual during his junior and senior years.

“One was a parent-teacher conferencing schedule,” Fishman explained. “You could sign up online instead of on paper. It saved a ton of time for teachers. And another was a text book inventory system. It allows the school to track which books are checked out to which students using barcode readers.”

Nick Fishman.

Nick Fishman.

After his success at Manual, Fishman was well aware of his goals for the future. When Google engineers visited Cornell one day during his freshman year of college, Fishman began to look into an internship with the company.

Fishman completed his first internship at Google’s campus in Cambridge, Mass., where he worked on Google Books. The following year, he traveled across the country to work at the Googleplex in Mountain View and contribute to the Music Beta program, which was just announced in April.

“That was really cool because unlike Google Books this was a completely new project that wasn’t really established,” Fishman said. “I got to work on something that was still being designed and had potential to have more impact. The thing that draws me to software engineering is the positive impact on people.”

While Fishman was working, he was immersed in an atmosphere not typical of the average work environment.

“I loved the work environment,” Fishman said. “Larry Page, the company’s CEO, was walking on campus. Breakfast lunch and dinner is served for free, and the food is incredible. Every building tended to have its own interesting quirks. One had a slide from the fourth to the fifth floor. The décor is bright and colorful. You see beanbags a lot and random couches in particular areas that encourage employees to sit down and have informal chats.”

Though it seems counterintuitive to a productive work environment, Fishman said the Googleplex actually helps employees work better and fosters creativity. The company also celebrates weekly TGIF meetings, where “Nooglers,” or new employees of Google, are welcomed with a propeller beanie hat to wear on campus.

Wall of Doodle (Mountain View) - a highly-detailed 3D doodle makes up each letter of the logo.

Wall of Doodle (Mountain View) - a highly-detailed 3D doodle makes up each letter of the logo.

“Employees work very hard and have concrete goals and a lot on their plate which makes a fun atmosphere that much more important,” Fishman said. “I actually wanted to come to work. Everyone at Google has to be creative. Problems can’t be solved with the same thinking that created them. That’s very much the philosophy at Google.”

As for Fishman’s future, he’s unsure whether he’ll work for Google after graduation or apply himself to entrepreneurial endeavors, as he is already CTO and co-founder of AccuScholar Interactive (www.accuscholar.com). Either way, this last summer with Google has helped Fishman and Grossman develop their skills in technology and with the atmosphere at the Googleplex, it’s safe to say that neither would have any complaints should they one day transition from their “Noogler” status to full-time Google employee.

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at aanderson@voice-tribune.com, 502.498.2051.

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Ashley Anderson

Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).

Comments (1)

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  1. J says:

    Nick Fishman is pretty hot.