3 Things I Learned from Google CodeU

Project in progress!

Google. Wow, what a name.

As a computer science student, I’ve seen the external hype around this big technology company. However, as a minority in the industry, I’ve also been fortunate enough to see the internal hype and spirit of the people who work there.

I came into the program knowing AJAX as a cleaning product. I came out, having spent over 20 hours figuring out 8 lines of code involving asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Here are some things I’ve learned.

1. There will be things you’re scared of. Approach them as head-on as you can.

I spent 3 days avoiding my task of implementing a POST request because I was scared of failing the task and thus proving that computer science was not for me. This is one of the mindsets behind procrastination, and being aware of this can be beneficial to anyone hoping to complete a task. Luckily, after the three days, I got over my fear of failure and simply made an attempt. And another. For several hours on end. Though the feeling of failure is by no means addicting, facing these fears does become easier and easier.

2. Ask questions, regardless if you think they will be answered.

One aspect of CodeU that I enjoyed greatly was the Googlers’ encouragement of questions. Not only did the advisers and CodeU team encourage students to ask questions, but they also responded to messages promptly. As someone who sometimes texts back 3–5 business days later, I really was surprised that some responses came 5 seconds after the question was asked. Through interacting with those who contributed to this program, I learned to rely on others, and to ask questions without worrying if they would be answered.

3. Deadlines come sooner than you think. Start strong if you can, but it’s more important to finish strong.

My team can attest to the fact that on June 20, we were laughing because we were so ahead of the deadline for the open project. On July 10, we were laughing because we were so wrong. This was the product of internships and summer courses ramping up in difficulty, as well as our own skewed perspective of the schedule. When you start with momentum, it can be easy to assume that you will end with momentum as well (because physics), but this is not the case. The trick is to start with momentum, but gain velocity along the way to make sure that you can make it to the end.

As this program comes to an end, I’m truly thankful to all the staff who have made this opportunity possible. I never thought I would be able to learn so much remotely in my small apartment in Berkeley, but I’m glad and grateful to have had this experience.