Google Scholar’s Retreat

Vedika Dalmia, BSc Computer Science Level 3 student 2011-12

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Google’s office in Zurich as part of the Scholar’s Retreat for the Anita Borg Scholarship. All the scholars got to spend two days in Zurich meeting Googlers and learning about interesting work being done by everyone.

It kicked off with advice from hiring managers about CVs and interviews. Then we had an amazing product design workshop where we were split in groups to come up with features for a new product. We got to work with Google product managers during the workshop.

We were treated to a tour of Google Zurich which is the most exciting office space I have ever come across, complete with slides, game rooms and aquariums.

The second day started with some amazing talks. There was a talk about security and privacy, specially about how people were coming together to protect the identities of victims of social media. They talked about how the name of the young child who was part of the “start wars kid” internet meme was deleted by Wikipedia users from that page if someone added it.

The other great talk we had was from a Software Engineer from Gmail who told us about the Priority Inbox. Gmail’s Priority Inbox is one of the largest and most user facing applications of machine learning at Google. The speaker explained how they came up with the ideas and algorithms, how it is implemented and where they wish to take it in the future.

We also had a talk about technology and where it was going. This included a very nice description of Google’s self driving car and how it works.

It was an amazing experience. There was so much to learn and so many brilliant people to meet in such little time it was extremely overwhelming. However, the amazing food and hospitality helped a lot.