Google Engineering Deep Dive

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Googley: a term used to describe a person characterized by passionate curiosity, fearless inquiry, and a fiendish work ethic. In other words, the typical Swat student. On September 28, the Monday before fall break, Phil Koonce ’12 and Nick Felt ’13 returned to Swarthmore to talk about their work as Google employees as part of a student recruitment for jobs and internships.

Koonce was quick to note, “We need curious people who aren’t scared to fail, aren’t scared to ask questions. We talk about people who are constantly curious and who demand good answers as being ‘Googley.’ For us, being ‘Googley’ is equivalent to being a Swattie.”

Koonce and Felt spent the first half of the hour long presentation detailing Google’s impressive history and global reach, the perks of working for the company, and its connection with Swarthmore graduates. They tried to impress the idea that Google’s main goal is to organize the world’s information in a way that makes it successful and useful for everyone.

While much of their speech seemed scripted, the two alumni expressed their praise for the tech giant in an earnest, inspiring manner. Flipping through slides of Google Translate, Gmail, a robotic arm, and more recent innovations, Felt added that “Google tries to use technology to make the problems that really matter to people in the world better.”

Felt continued to say that he appreciates the strong culture of transparency within the Google community. “Inside, employers have a unique level of access for a company of Google’s size,” Felt said. “We are asked to test products, told of events, and included in weekly meetings where the founders give a presentation and then open the floor for questions from anyone; everyone’s voices are heard.”

Felt then addressed a subject of great interest to many students present: internships and employment with Google. The Engineering Internship Program is most popular with juniors and seniors and is a three month summer internship. It is a paid position, and interns have the opportunity to choose the city in which they work. The second program, Engineering Practicum Internship, is geared towards freshmen and sophomores with less breadth of classroom experience. Practicum interns are paired with another intern and together they collaborate on projects with an older mentor.

Koonce and Felt each concluded with an overview of their own jobs. Koonce works as a software engineer in charge of the negotiations between publishers, like The New York Times, and advertisers such as Nike. As an overview, Google takes data from publishers and puts it into the Double Click For Publishers database (DFP). When consumers are on the web, the DFP database grabs ads from Google servers and presents them on the webpage of interest.

Koonce handles web clients and these servers by representing the site structure of the clients and the reservations they’ve made for advertisement slots. He recounted his typical day as spent mostly on design, development, and testing.

Although also a software engineer, Felt’s work has a completely different focus than that of Koonce. He is a member of the Top Level Domains (TLD) Team for Google Registry, the program in charge of assigning and procuring web domains. TLD refers to the ending of a domain name, like “.com.” The control of all TLDs is administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN,); as Felt put it, they are “essentially the governing body of the internet.” After the huge expansion of TLDs in 2008, Google applied for 101 domains and has obtained 30 of those so far.

As of now, only three are live: .how, a domain for instructional sites, .soy, a domain for U.S. Hispanic sites, and .みんな, a domain name which is the Japanese word for “everyone.” With the rise of TLDs, the Domain Name Service was created to register the information of companies and people who currently hold a domain, as well as the length and expiration date of their registration. Felt’s team is trying to build a scalable domain name registry which is much larger and can ultimately match the growth in use and accessibility of new TLDs.

Koonce and Felt’s enthusiasm for their work seemed to resonate with the audience, many of whom intend to further investigate the Google internships. The two could not stress enough how strong the connections are between Google and Swarthmore students. Google actively recruits from Swarthmore, as evidenced by the two alumni’s visit and presentation. There is still time to apply for the summer internships — chances are more than one Swat student will land a spot.

Application forms are available at Interested candidates must select their preference in role and type of work and upload a resumé and transcript. The deadline for applications is November 30 for both internships.

Naomi Caldwell

Naomi Caldwell is a first year from Woodbridge, Connecticut. She is the assistant editor for the Arts & Features section and is also a board member of the Kitao Gallery. Naomi enjoys going into Philadelphia for concerts, coffee and museums — she is currently in love with the work of Alice Neel. Naomi is considering a major in Art History coupled with Economics and Spanish. One Hundred Years of Solitude is by far her favorite book, and although John Irving’s The World According to Garp is a close second. Naomi started writing for The Daily Gazette to help promote a stronger arts scene on campus, especially as concerns student artists.

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