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Over the summer I email interviewed Angela Ellington, NU Alum and overall amazing person who now works for Google in Mountain View, California. Below she offers some great advice and insight. And even some tips on applying to Google.

B: What is your current job title and what does your position involve?

A: Currently, I am in a 2-year rotation program at Google, so technically, my job title is People Operations Rotation Specialist.  (Note: People Operations is just Google’s way of saying Human Resources)  But I currently sit on a team that’s called People Analytics and I’m an Analyst on this team. The purpose of the People Analytics team is to use data to inform any decision related to Google employees.  Whether is staffing, benefits, diversity, or measuring employee engagement, our team collects, analyzes and presents the data that our executives use to make decisions.  I sit on a sub-team within People Analytics that run our largest employee surveys and help manage the survey administration process, including analyzing the data once a survey is over.  The results for our large employee surveys are shared with Directors, VPs and our CEO.

B: What internships did you have when you were at Northwestern?  How did you find your internships?

A: I had an internship every summer while at Northwestern and am a firm believe that internships are one of the most important things to have on a resume if you want to work at a Fortune 500.

Summer Internships:

  • Summer 2005 (pre-college) & Summer 2006 (after freshman year): I worked at my state newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where I was an intern reporter in the Features section. I found this internship through a college prep program in Arkansas.  I would categorize this as networking.
  • Summer 2007 (after sophomore year): I worked at Whirlpool Corporation in the Global Communications & Public Affairs Department.  I mainly wrote articles for the employee intranet. I found this internship on the School of Communications Career Development site.  I would categorize this as a NU resource
  • Summer 2008 (after junior year): I worked at Google, Inc. in the Global Communications & Public Affairs Department.  My main project was to help research and write the content for a timeline of Google history for Google’s 10th birthday. I heard about Google’s BOLD Diversity Internship Program through a friend.  She knew I was looking for internships and e-mailed me a link to the application.  I would categorize this as networking.

Overall, networking played a big part in me finding my internships.  However, I didn’t rely solely on networking during my internship search.  I applied to tons of internships and I heavily utilized CareerCat as well as the School of Communications site I mentioned above to find them (I believe most departments at NU have their own internship/job database).  I also went directly to company job sites to look for positions.  Some companies (especially those in the entertainment industry) don’t do much advertising/recruiting for their internship.  Don’t be afraid to do directly to the source. For example, I received an internship offer from Sony Pictures and discovered this opportunity by simply going to the company’s career website (I received this offer the same summer as Google’s offer and I decided to go with Google).  So, if there is a particular company you’re interested in, check out their website for opportunities.  And even if they don’t have anything posted, don’t be afraid to e-mail someone and ask if they’d be willing to create an internship position.  You’d be surprised how many companies will at least consider it.

B: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were a Freshmen or Sophomore about career development?

A: Ah, there are so many things I wish I had known!  But here are a few key ones:

  • Internships Matter – Honestly, you’ll learn so much about yourself and about the working world if you spend your summer doing an internship.  Whether at a big or small company, a non-profit or a start-up, you’ll be so glad you spent 8 – 12 weeks gaining new skills and experiences vs. being a couch potato.
  • You don’t have to know exactly what you want to be when you grow up – I can’t tell you how many hours of sleep I lost worrying about what I was going to do with my life after graduation.  I felt I needed to make the decision ASAP and whatever decision I made, I was stuck with for the rest of my life.  Obviously, that’s not the case.  When you graduate, you’ll get a job, but that’s just your first of many jobs.  Along the way you’ll discover what you like (and don’t like) in a job and your career path will slowly begin to take shape.  Don’t think you have to figure it all out tomorrow.
  • Take time to reflect – During a lot of my internships, I would just work, work, work and never take time to reflect on what I’ve been working on.  Do I like what I’m doing?  If so, what do I like about it?  If not, what do I not like about it?  Could I see myself doing this long term?  What would make this job better?  Asking yourself these questions during your internship will help you hone in on the specific traits you’re looking for in a job.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things – I was a Communication Studies major and always said “I hate math and dealing with numbers – I’m not analytical.”  But the truth is, I had never really tried my hand at doing anything analytical, so I didn’t really know whether or not I hated math or dealing with numbers.  During the rotation program I’m currently in, I had the opportunity to join the People Analytics team where I realized I absolutely love working with data (and I’m pretty good at it!).  So, don’t count something out before you’ve tried it and don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone – you just might discover a new passion.

B: Any other advice you’d offer to students looking for internships? 

A: I highly recommend taking a trip to University Career Services.  Not only can the counselors there provide you with resources to help you with your internship search, but they are also available to help you during the application and interview process.  It’s one thing to search for an internship, it’s another thing to apply and receive an offer.  Let the career counselors take a look at your resume and cover letter before you submit your application and sign up for mock interviews with them.  They are there to help and their guidance will help boost your chances of getting an internship offer.
B: Advice on applying at Google?

A: If you’re interested in an internship or job at Google, we’re always looking for the best and the brightest!  Internship recruiting hasn’t started just yet, but below are some links to keep in handy as it gets closer to summer 2012.