Written by Ho Yan Yan, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business
Riding on the momentum of the three-part series featuring internships at SMU, we have another internship experience to share. Popularly regarded as one of the most prestigious internships in the world, a position at Google is difficult to attain. With so many people talking about the free lunches, sleep pods and amazing work environment, we will now find out whether these are all true by asking Melina—a former Google intern, more affectionately referred to as a Googler.
Melina Dong, Google intern
Hi Melina, to start off, please tell me more about yourself and your career interests.
I have just completed my final semester of studies at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business in SMU. Outside of academics, I have played for the women’s water polo team in SMU, led an overseas community service project to Vietnam and served as an SMU Career Champion.
I enjoy working in fast-paced settings where work is challenging and different every day. High-energy environments and the ability to make a visible impact on the business are also important to me when I consider my career choices.
So was that what made you decide to intern at Google?
Prior to my application for the internship at Google, I’d read extensively about Google’s culture and was naturally attracted to it. I wanted to intern for a company that would provide me with opportunities to work on impactful projects and allow me to put the skills and knowledge that I’ve learnt in SMU to good use. Also, I felt that a stint in Google would definitely give me the chance to understand the tech industry better and learn from the brightest people in the industry.
I think the burning question most of our readers would have is “How did you score this extremely coveted internship?”
To start off, it is important to have a CV that will be attractive to employers. Be actively involved in school activities , take on leadership roles and expose yourself to a wide-range of activities that will not only look good on your CV but also help you grow and develop as an individual.
Having said that, I constantly looked for suitable opportunities on OnTrac (SMU’s career website) and applied for the Google position once I chanced upon it. While it definitely helped that I did loads of research on Google and the Enterprise team, it was also important that I ensured fit between the company’s values and my personal values. I guess being authentic and “wearing my passion” during the interviews also helped me score some points with the interviewers!
How was your experience as an intern? Any particular lesson you’d like to share?
My 12 weeks as a Googler were, to say the least, extremely well-spent and enriching. With the rapidly changing landscape of the company, every single day proved to be fun, challenging and refreshing. My manager gave me various opportunities to get to know the business better and managed several meaningful projects which I saw to completion. Aside from my assigned work, I was also encouraged and given much support in my involvement in community projects such as the Women Entrepreneur on the Web and a GoogleServe20 project that taught foreign workers computer skills.
“Great just isn’t good enough”
One of the most important lessons that I learnt during my stint in Google was how important it is to not be afraid of challenging yourself and taking on seemingly impossible tasks. It is only through challenging yourselves with tough projects that you learn, seek help from your colleagues and understand the business and yourself better. Most importantly, stay hungry and never stop improving.
Interesting takeaways! What were some of the skills learnt in SMU that helped you become “better than great”?
As many of my fellow schoolmates will be able to attest to, an SMU education equipped me with the ability to share and present my ideas in big groups which definitely helped me in gaining visibility in the company as well as effectively contributing during meetings with colleagues.
The various co-curricular activities and community service projects that I took part in during my time in SMU also developed my event-planning and communication skills. These skills were put to good use during my time in Google when I had to work with various stakeholders and plan events that involved both internal and external personnel.
You’ve amassed many fond memories. Which is your favourite one?
I’ve had such a fantastic experience in Google that it’s tough choosing just one memory to call my favourite. I would say my solo business trips to Tokyo and Bangkok were the most exciting and enriching part of my summer internship as I not only got to meet many fun-loving Googlers in other locations but also got to witness the successful completion of two Partner Sales Academies which I had planned from scratch.
(Though I would also say that the daily sumptuous breakfast and lunch buffets in the office were a close contender for my favourite memory!)
Looking forward, what are your future prospects and plans?
Interning in Google has definitely helped open many doors for me. I’ve been interning part-time in Microsoft since May 2013, when I joined the Intern to MACH (Microsoft Academy of College Hires) programme.
Upon graduation, I will be joining a bank as a graduate analyst. I am definitely looking forward to the rotations and trainings that I will be going through as part of the graduate programme, and learning more about the fast-paced banking industry.
My time at Google has also developed my passion for empowering women in business, especially through the events that I took part in. I hope to be actively involved with this cause and in future, be able to carry out initiatives that promote the advancement and development of women in their careers.
SMU stresses the importance of internships and real-work experiences. The compulsory internship requirement prepares our students to face the challenges at work.
Undergraduate acceptance is currently open, and will close on 2 June 2014. Accept your offer today at http://admissions.smu.edu.sg/apply/accept-offer.