Yos Riady optimize for learning

Grow Beyond with Google

I spent two days in Google’s Singapore office for a series of workshops, and in this post, I’d like to write (in freeform) about the things I’ve learned from the program.

Google SG offices

  • I held the false belief that being a ‘technical person’ is a sufficient excuse for me lacking in general social/conversational skills. This is clearly false, and you can be both technically minded and have great communication/social skills at the same time. These two skills are not mutually exclusive.

  • Communicating your ideas is just as important as coming up with the idea in the first place. (I thought we came up with a genuinely interesting idea with a real business model: a mobile application that turns any mobile phone into a leap motion device.) If you can’t convince investors that your idea is revenue-generating, then he/she probably won’t fund the idea. As a software engineer, you have to be able to adapt in order to work with people of different personality types/temperaments. Being technical is no excuse to lack social skills.

  • For future presentations, I need to better establish to the audience why they should be interested in what I have to say. Most of the time, the audience won’t have the same interests as you do. This way, they have a reason to pay attention and listen to your talk. Good presentations illustrates a story to the audience.
  • I learned to view feedback differently. We do not talk about the past since there is nothing we can do about it. We look at the future and will do everything we can to make it better. Feedback is not focused on your past performance, it looks largely to the future and what you can do differently to improve.

Google SG offices

Some other tips on technical development and what makes a great software engineer:

  • Have a strong understanding of Algorithms and Data Structures.
  • Work on a small piece of a large system (codebase), read and understand existing code, track down documentation, and debug things.
  • As a software engineer, working on several side projects outside of the classroom is an important source of experience and self-learning.
  • Develop your UI / Frontend design knowledge and skills.
  • Make sure you apply for internships well in advance of the period internships take place. In the US, internships take place during the summer, May - September, and applications are usually open several months in advance.

Workshop participants

All in all, it was an enlightening experience and a great precursor to the coming semester.


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