By Tara Cavanaugh
When you think of Google, you think of Google Docs, Gmail and its all-knowing search engine. Its creative and innovative products stem from a deliberately unique and inspiring work environment –– and last month the company shared its inspiration with AAPS students.
Google’s Ann Arbor office hosted 43 Ann Arbor Public Schools juniors and seniors at its Career Day event on Nov. 29. The high schoolers took a tour of Google’s eclectic offices and talked one-on-one with employees, taking away lessons and tips for their future college and career experiences.
“The conversations the Google employees have with the students really can inspire them to think about what makes them unique, what makes them marketable to a company,” said Annette Ferguson, the district’s business and volunteer coordinator who helped Google create Career Day. “It just really opens up a world of thought to these students to figure out where they might be able to go.”
“I most enjoyed hearing the stories from the Google employees,” said Brendan Kennedy, a Pioneer senior. “Their stories showed me that anything is possible and deciding on your college major doesn’t lock you into that specific field. It also showed me that Google not only has a lot of opportunities for techie jobs but also a wide variety of other jobs.”
Joaquin Aguero, a Huron senior, took away tips for starting his career and said he plans to apply for the company’s scholarship opportunities.
Aguero also described the students’ fascination with Google’s offices and its worker-centric atmosphere. Google offers healthy and freshly cooked meals, game rooms and exercise facilities. It will even donate to charities chosen by the employees who bike or walk to work.
“They really pay attention to what the workers want,” Aguero said. “They give them enough resources to have fun while they work.”
Overall, the experience “opened my eyes,” said Sarah Carroll, a senior at Ann Arbor Tech. Her favorite part was learning that “you don’t always have to be behind the desk in a boring, white-walled cubicle to have a good job.”
Google held its first Career Day this past spring. Employees dreamed up the idea after volunteering at Scarlett Middle School’s Portfolio Day in 2011, said Ferguson. Portfolio Day puts eighth graders in mock interviews with local members of the business community, and the Google employees wanted more opportunities to provide career inspiration to AAPS.
The first Career Day was greatly enjoyed by the students, and the two changes they suggested were opening the event up to juniors as well and having the event in the fall instead of the spring, which can be a very busy time for graduating seniors.
“I think the move was successful,” Ferguson said. “We had more students apply than we could actually take.”
“I very much appreciate the program Google has put together,” Ferguson added. “It takes time to plan it, to provide that opportunity and the human resources. It’s a wonderful gift that Google gives to Ann Arbor Public Schools.”