How I applied for A Job at Google!
I get this question daily on LinkedIn, so I figured I do a nice blog post on it.
Disclaimer: I am not here to share how to get a job at Google, I am not in a position to speak on behalf of the company. What I will do however is share how I applied for a job at Google, simply sharing my journey.
6 years ago when my journey with Google began I sincerely did not know how big this company is. I just applied to the company because I heard they were looking for a Marketing intern, which is a strong passion of mine.
I didn’t think - let me Google Google, so as you are probably shocked right now, Yes, I had no clue what Google is about. I was focussed on getting a Marketing internship because my university required me to complete an Industrial Attachment to graduate. And if Google said they were offering one, that’s all I cared about.
So how did I get to the point of applying for the Google Marketing Internship? Let me connect the dots for you.
In early 2013, Noreen, texted me that I should join Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK) since I am so passionate about Marketing. I did not think much about it, I just said YES immediately. I was in the car with my Dad and I told him about the opportunity and that I needed $15 to sign up as a member. He gladly gave me the money and we drove to MSK offices to sign me up.
That was the beginning of me getting closer to working for Google a year later.
In November 2013 an opportunity popped up in MSK to be an Usher for their Annual MSK Gala and Awards. We were to be paid $20 for the entire evening, but that’s not what motivated me to sign up. I wanted to network with the CEOs and Top Marketing Officials that were present at the event for my blog interviews. I had a pitch ready “Hey, my name is Esther Kinuthia and I run a blog called Miss Independent. My mission is to Inform, Inspire and Ignite the African youth, and I would like to interview you for it. Please give me your business card and I will reach out with more details via email.”
It’s important I mention that I did my job as an Usher first before approaching the Top Executives. You have to be tactful, you can’t start bothering people at the start of an event, especially when you are the Usher. It’s just not nice plus it would have been disrespectful to the MSK team that had given me the opportunity to be in a space with the WHO’s in the country. The lesson to take from this is that you may have an opportunity right now that is a stepping stone to a brighter future, but give it your all. If you are an Usher, be the best Usher there is out there first, and then proceed with networking at an appropriate time.
So the following day I went back to MSK to collect the $20 payment, although at the back of my mind I was already happy because I had networked with amazing people. That’s when Kenneth Kiunga told me that Google is looking for a Marketing intern. I didn’t hear Google, I heard Marketing Intern, and as mentioned above, I needed to do a Marketing Industrial Attachment to graduate. So without knowing who or what Google is, I emailed Kenneth my CV and to be honest, a week later I had forgotten that I had. I was busy chasing my blog interviewees, plus I was due for the attachment 4 months later so it’s not like I was panicking at the time.
A month later, I received an email from a Google recruiter about my application. I was SO HAPPY, not because it’s Google, but because someone is actually interested in me. LOL, finally, I was about to get into this working world, I thought to myself. Once again, since I did not know how big this company is, I remember walking to my Brother’s place to respond to her email. She had asked me questions on whether I want to do a Masters after I graduate, and I was honest with her that at the moment I am not keen because I want to work and see what field to Master in. I guess if I knew it’s THE TECH GIANT Google is reaching out, I may have wanted to sound smart and started saying that I want to pursue a Masters. But no, Miss Independent was brutally honest and answered questions from her heart without thinking what is the “right” thing to say.
She helped me with my CV, A LOT. Honestly Google nurtured me from day 1, because you guys, when I was asked to send a copy of my passport, I sent a picture (let’s all laugh together, hahahaha). LOL, they needed an actual scan of a travel passport, which I did not even have, so now I had to go get one. Google changed my Life, but I am getting ahead of the story. Let’s go back to the recruiter.
She coached me on how to write my CV, the Google way, before we could go ahead and proceed with the interviews. I remember very well being at Strathmore University Library looking at my new CV and being impressed with myself, thanks to the Google recruiter. That’s why I invest a lot in blogging about CVs because I too was helped. You can watch my video on CVs here. It’s important I mention that even though I had given Kenneth my CV, the recruiter requested me to apply online again. You always have to apply online at Google, so when a Googler advises you to apply online, it’s not that they don’t want to help you. There are no backdoors , you have to apply online like everyone else. Plus Google is all about technology, so of course their online applications work.
Interviews were set up and once again, I was myself. There was no pressure that I am interviewing for Google because I did not even understand how big the company is. I did check out some links online, but for some reason it didn’t hit me that this is one of the most desirable companies to work for in the world. That is not to say that I wasn’t fit for the company, there is a reason I became Top 40 under 40 woman in Kenya at 21. My interviews focussed so much on what I did as Miss Independent Blogger, Business Development Manager in AIESEC, President of French Club and all the other things that I had achieved while a student at Strathmore University. I was involved in events such as hosting Directors from Airtel at Strathmore University, managing a team of 8 to run Strathmore Student Council Elections (being the youngest and first female to do so), in a nutshell, I had so many achievements as a student - and I believe that’s what Google was impressed with.
I finished my interviews and now I was just waiting for feedback. I remember my Brother suggesting that Google may pay me $500 and I wondered why he would even say such a thing. I won’t reveal how much Google pays its interns, but to be honest even after my Brother told me, I didn’t go to Google how much Google pays its interns or employees. I was just SO focussed on the Marketing piece. And then in school when I told people that I am just from interviewing with Google, people were shocked, and I wondered why. What is this thing about Google that I didn’t know, I pondered.
One day while in class, the recruiter confirmed that I had gotten the role. I was so happy. Here is a funny story, when the recruiter told me how much I would be paid, I alighted from a car before I reached home, just in case I was hearing my own things. She then asked me if I was okay with the amount and I did not even what to say, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be paid that as an intern. I sincerely expected $100.
And on March 24th 2014, I joined Google as their Marketing Intern. Some of my great accomplishments include the Kimani Marude Doodle and Kenya Independence Doodle 2014. There is a whole process behind getting Doodles done, so I am particularly proud of the Kimani Maruge one considering there was a lot of information missing to pass the Doodle requirements, but hey, I did it.
Circling it back, my journey to Google started with Noreen advising me to join MSK and Kenneth Kiunga informing me about the Google opportunity. Fun fact, Noreen and I share birthday dates (July 13th). She is now the Head of Sales Healthcare & E-commerce Division at Reckitt Benckiser, and Kenneth is Head of Planning and Business Analysis at Kampala Pharmaceutical Industries (1996) Ltd. I’ve thanked them over the years, I tell their stories to many people even without their knowledge and to date, I am still very grateful for them being part of my Google story.
I am also grateful for past Esther. She said YES to the MSK opportunity and even though it needed her to pay $15, she took a chance on herself and MSK. If I wasn’t an Usher at MSK, would I have heard of the Marketing Internship at Google? If I didn’t choose to join AIESEC to illustrate my business development skills, if I didn’t run the Strathmore Student Elections to illustrate my leadership skills, if I didn’t run Miss Independent Blog with the quality and effort that I did - would Google have been impressed with my application?
Fast forward to a year later when I had to think about getting a full-time role at Google. I quickly learnt that the Dublin is their Graduate Hub and should apply to roles that require talent from Africa. I learnt that for an African to get a job in a foreign country, there has to be justification for a company to hire them and not someone in the company’s country of operation. As such, I applied to roles that needed talent from Sub Saharan Africa, and you can tell this by how they advertise the role, often with “Africa” or “SSA”.
So go on to Google Careers and look for roles that require talent from your continent or country here.
In summary: Ensure your CV looks good and apply online. It works! You can watch my video on CVs here
I applied to Google focussed on passion, not the perks, and even though they were only looking for ONE person to hire, I was chosen.
All the best in your applications!.