Junior computer information systems and technology major Nnedimma Ugochukwu had one of the most coveted internships in the world this summer.
She was at Google Inc.'s headquarters (dubbed the Googleplex) in Mountain View, California, which is also home to Apple.
Just getting an internship at Google is an accomplishment. In 2013, the year Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn played older Google interns in the movie “The Internship,” Business Insider wrote that Google would only accept 1,500 of 40,000 applications.
Those who were accepted underwent a rigorous interview process requiring at least two 45-minute technical interviews.
But the Pitt-Bradford junior from Washington, D.C., was sought out by Google at a conference for women in technology that she attended on a scholarship.
Her interest in computers started early, when, as a child, Ugochukwu would watch her father take apart and rebuild computers. Her interest continued on to web programming in high school and then majoring in computer information systems at Pitt-Bradford.
She applied for the Grace Hopper Scholarship, a scholarship intended to celebrate and support women in computing fields, and was encouraged to attend one of their conferences in China during her sophomore year, where companies like Google seek out students for their internship programs.
At the conference, Google asked Ugochukwu for an interview regarding her experience in information technology. She interviewed on the last day of the conference, bypassing much of arduous Google internship process.
Ugochukwu interviewed with two different representatives, each interview lasting 45 minutes. There were questions intended to see what she would do in different information technology scenarios and questions regarding her personal background.
After successfully interviewing, her internship began with a tour of the Googleplex in Mountain View, which she said blew her away.
“Google encouraged people to get to know their co-workers through all kinds of social events. Every week there was an event going on: concerts, festivals and dance classes. There was so much to do, and so many different foods.”
During her three-month internship, Ugochukwu's job at Google was helping with device issues, but it wasn't as simple as everyday technical support.
“Google distributes corporate devices to employees, and a lot have issues with them like internet connection issues, battery life, accessing issues, and retrieving information from dead devices, and these issues were more in depth than your regular person needing IT help. It can get extremely complicated.”
One of the toughest things she faced while at Google was dealing with the more experienced employees' device issues.
“When I found it complicated to assist them, some would try and 'put me in my place' and lecture me. Luckily I had help from my host and my mentor for many of the problems that I faced.”
Google provides interns with hosts that assign weekly projects to help interns learn more week by week, while their intern mentors work side by side with interns at their work stations.
One thing that struck her most was the amount of diversity at Google. While there, Ugochukwu met interns from all over the world.
“I met students from all spectrums. There were students who were accepted from low-income programs, some from Ivy League colleges, and a lot that were from different countries. I loved getting to know people, their stories, their differences and similarities. It was all so amazing.”
To Ugochukwu, this couldn't have been possible without the encouragement of the CIS&T faculty.
“Everyone in the program has been wonderful to me. I especially wouldn't have been able to see myself where I am now if it wasn't for the help of Don Lewicki and Dr. Ken Wang. Without them, I wouldn't have gone to the Grace Hopper Conference, and I wouldn't have had the opportunity to interview with Google.”
She plans to return to Google in the summer of 2017 as a paid intern. After the second internship, she has the option to apply full time, but as of now she is taking it one step at a time.