Jessica Gallegos '16
Internship: User Advocacy & Governance MBA Intern, Google – Mountain View, California
Home country/state: Quito, Ecuador
Favorite Yale SOM class: Behavioral Economics, Macroeconomics, Competitor
Clubs & Affiliations: Forté Fellow, Blue Cohort Representative for Student Government, Captain for the Ice Hockey Club, Social Chair for the Latino Leadership Association, Careers Chair for the Economic Development Club, Member of the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management
Before joining SOM, I was at the World Bank. For three years, I worked with governments around the globe to find solutions to some of the most complex social issues. My work taught me that helping people was my passion, but also made me think about the potential for scale and impact that could come from using technology to tackle some of these issues.
I came to SOM hoping to work in a role that would allow me to explore ways in which tech could be used to achieve social good, and this summer working at Google, I was able to achieve just that. Instead of boring you with a recap of my experience, I thought I’d share a few of the lessons I learned from my internship with you:
- Think big…Then, think bigger. Google has this concept of “moon shots”: employees are encouraged to set incredibly ambitious goals, or as Google founders Larry and Sergey say, to “have a healthy disregard for the impossible.” This mentality allows Google to innovate and achieve great things. Sure, it may lead to some crazy ideas, and many of these goals may never be attained, but, if Google had focused only on what was possible, self-driving cars and internet-providing balloons might have never come to exist! Google’s endorsement of big and ambitious ideas is what makes it great, and this way of thinking is the best way to innovate and challenge yourself!
- Perks are great, but empowerment is even better. Whatever you have heard about Google perks is probably true. During the summer alone, I enjoyed free meals in over 20 Google cafes, was never more than 20 feet away from healthy and delicious snacks in Google Micro Kitchens, had massages in the Googleplex, joined free gym classes, and rode around campus on Google Bikes! And while all of this made my experience great, what made working at Google really special is the empowerment it gives its employees. At Google, if you have a good idea, it doesn’t matter if you are a Noogler or a Googler, you can make it happen. It’s not easy; you will need to convince others that your idea is worth it (an essential skill for survival in a flat organization!), but once you have people on board, possibilities are endless. Google empowers its employees to experiment and follow their passions, making it an awesome place to intern at! One of my research projects over the summer that was based on a topic I uncovered is now being discussed by VPs in the company—something that definitely made me feel like I had a real impact this summer.
- You can do cool things that matter. Coming from the public sector, and trying to do good in the private world, I was often met with skepticism. My internship, however, showed me it was possible to do both. One of my main projects this summer focused on public service announcements (PSAs) on Google Search. Realizing that people rely on Google for virtually anything, my team seized the opportunity to connect people in immediate danger with services to help them. They did this by positioning help boxes that contain country-specific emergency hotlines on top of the search results pages when users conducted queries that may indicate they are in immediate danger. These hotlines have already launched in several countries around issues such as human trafficking, suicide prevention, and child exploitation. During the summer, I developed the strategy for the next set of PSA hotlines to be rolled out on Google Search—allowing me to work in an area where products are developed to both be profitable and improve the lives of the most vulnerable. This area is small, but I believe we have just begun to scratch the surface of possibilities from public-private partnerships. So if you are passionate about social impact in the private sector, don’t give up—there are roles out there and lots of interesting work to do.
- Profit should not be the sole driving force in the decision-making of a successful company. This summer, I worked for the User Advocacy and Governance team. This is a very special team; it falls under the umbrella of Product Quality and believes that Google's brand is only as strong as its users' trust. My team is somewhat of a “red team” within Google, representing user views, experiences, and pain points to the company. What is truly unique about this team is that it focuses solely on people and, thus, sometimes the changes we drive are not always the ones that bring the most profit. In the long run however, they are the ones that improve our users’ trust and strengthen Google’s brand. It was great to be part of a team that within a large and successful company continued to prioritize its guiding values and its users even when it meant doing so might cost instead of make them money.
I could go on forever about things I learned this summer at Google and will be bringing back with me to SOM, but I wanted to conclude with something I wish I knew when I started recruiting:
Every industry has different timelines, and it is OK to wait for what you are passionate about. When you get to SOM—or any business school—you will feel the recruiting pressure as soon as you set foot on campus. It is easy to get caught up in tracks that others are pursuing, but it is important to think about what you want to get out of the summer. I got my offer in mid-March, and, while this is normal for tech, it’s very late in comparison to other tracks. I had my interviews while I was in South Africa on my International Experience pre-trip. I remember at the time being the only one in our group of 12 SOMers who had not received an offer yet and feeling petrified. Looking back on it, I wish I had felt less worried and enjoyed the process more. Remember, every field has a timeline, and it is OK to wait for something you are truly passionate about. It all works out in the end.
Enjoy your first year and welcome to SOM!