Women in Tech: From College to a Career with Google

Women in Tech: From College to a Career with Google

We recently spoke to Erin Leverton and Samantha Schaevitz from Google’s Information Technology Residency Program (ITRP). We chose to highlight this program because it is an career opportunity that allows many new graduates the opportunity to get their ‘foot in the door’in a technology career. Watch the video below, or keep reading for a summary of our conversation!

So what exactly is the ITRP? Erin Leverton, a manager for ITRP explained that the ITRP is a 26-month, fixed-term program. Successful applicants have the opportunity to work in Mountain View, CA; New York City, NY; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Sydney, Australia; or Dublin, Ireland. This immersion into IT at Google provides residents with a deep foundation in enterprise technology, as well as opportunities to travel and work with other teams. The program is designed to provide an exceptional level of support to Googlers and to empower the next generation of IT professionals.

We asked Sam to describe some of the projects she has been involved in since she started working in the ITRP. Sam joined the ITRP straight out of college. She did her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, where she studied Computer Science. She then joined the ITRP in Mountain View California, and has been working at Google for almost two years since then, working as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google. While in the program, she worked on a range of software oriented projects, such as coordinating the travel of all her fellow Googlers. She also did a brief rotation on the Gmail front-end site reliability team, which is now her current permanent position. Through the program, Sam gained exposure to the tech world, which helped her to carve out the next steps of her career.

We next asked Sam to tell us how she feels she has personally benefited from working within the ITRP. Sam explained that the ITRP was her first job outside of college and her first real exposure to working in the tech industry. She said that it gave her a lot of ways to figure out how she wanted to proceed after the ITRP was finished and which direction she wanted to take her career.

Pathway to a tech career

We asked Erin to talk to us about her background in the ITRP from a managerial perspective. Erin has been managing residents for three years, and helped to build the remote support branch of the IT Residency Program. Erin started out as an IT support technician in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and she has been working in the IT field for seven years. She explained at length the benefits of working in the ITRP.

“There is a wide variety of different projects that people work on, anything from automation to doing things like writing rules to get support routed better from one team to another…there has been a lot of really cool projects to come out of ITRP, and people of all different backgrounds have worked on them”

We asked Erin to elaborate on how she feels that the ITRP is great for women.

“I would say that ITRP creates opportunities for everybody. It is an entry-level role for people just finishing University, people who haven’t had a lot of experience in industry and people who may not even have had a traditional IT or Computer Science background. It is a really inclusive program and we look for really diverse people, which is what makes Google awesome”

Erin explained that she has always had strong female role models. She spoke of herself as one such role model, as female managers in IT are not something you see everyday. She also explained how her manager’s manager is a female engineer who is a great example of a female in a leadership position. Erin also spoke about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference that is coming up:

“Google has a huge presence at the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing. I went last year and I’m going again this year and its a really great way to integrate ourselves with women out there and to show them that we definitely have diversity here!”

We asked Sam to speak to us about how the ITRP has helped her face some of the challenges associated with being a woman in Tech. She explained that because there are so many female role models at Google, it has really helped her envision what the path for her career could look like and gave her a lot more confidence in navigating the tech industry. Erin added;

“For me, being a female in IT hasn’t really been a big deal, I’ve never really felt like an outsider, Google is such an inclusive company and I’ve been here for 7 years. I’ve noticed that I am one of the few females over the years, but that number of females grows over the years too. But one of the great things about working here is that there is so much diversity, not just male to female, but all different cultures. I never feel like I am an outsider”

We asked Sam if there are any special training, skills or experiences that young women might consider undertaking if they want to increase their chances of joining the ITRP program. Sam explained that her personal path was a mix where she studied computer science and also some high school programs that were technical in nature. Her student job while she was in college was also similar to what she ended up doing in the ITRP. She explained that many people in the ITRP have a really diverse set of skills and tech backgrounds but the one common theme is their passion for technology and being able to interact with people.

Erin elaborated that hands-on IT experience is definitely helpful, especially in college, and it helps develop a skill-set that is necessary for acceptance into the program.

“You can’t learn everything from a texbook. I would definitely recommend that anyone who is interested in a STEM career to find that opportunity [for hands-on tech experience], be it an internship, a co-op, a summer job, whatever it is” – Erin Leverton

Interested in a STEM career? Try that hands-on opportunity
Interested in a STEM career? Try that hands-on opportunity

Our conversation with Erin and Sam came at a critical time, just as Google released their diversity data. According to the official figures, 70% of Google’s employees are men and 61% of its US employees are white. Although our conversation with Erin and Sam focused solely on the ITRP, these figures highlight the need for programs such as the ITRP, aimed at addressing the diversity problem within Google, and the tech industry as a whole.

So given how wonderful programs like the ITRP are, we wrapped things up by asking how competitive it is to get into, and how would anyone who is interested submit an application. Erin said that anyone who is interested should apply, and explained that they are looking for people who do not have a lot of experience, and have recently graduated. The ITRP is accepting applications for their August 2014 program right now, so please apply if you are interested!

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