Written by Lisa Bleich
In Thomas L. Friedman’s, article, How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2 he interviews Laszlo Bock, who is tasked with hiring for Google. As I read through the article, I was again struck by how similar the advice to getting a job at Google is to creating a compelling college application.
Curate your talents into a compelling story. An interview that demonstrates why your skill set and accomplishments are important and how they matter to a given organization helps future employers understand right away how you can add value. This also holds true for college applications. Allison, who will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, communicated in a very specific way how she would contribute to Penn by describing her interest in bio-medical engineering, her desire to write for Penn’s newspaper, and how she looked forward to serving as a leader on its club synchronized swim team.
Interdisciplinary knowledge is critical. When asked about the value of a liberal arts degree, Bock underscores the importance of looking for unlikely connections, “I think a lot about how the most interesting things are happening at the intersection of two fields.” Colleges also like students that can combine seemingly disparate interests. Mark, who is heading to CalTech in the fall, credits his interdisciplinary thinking to his uniqueness, “in my case, it was my passion for exploring the intersection between science and art. I think that being able to demonstrate this interest with specific examples definitely helped my application stand out.”
The importance of Grit. Google likes to see students who have stuck with challenging majors, even if they didn’t get straight A’s. It demonstrates the likelihood that they will stick with difficult problems or situations in the workplace. Students, who have overcome adversity or persevered through rigorous classes, are in a better position to succeed once they get to college and face a similar challenge.
Problem solving and the ability to keep learning. “The first thing Google looks for ‘is general cognitive ability — the ability to learn things and solve problems,’ he said. “A knowledge set that will be invaluable is the ability to understand and apply information.” This sounds a lot like intellectual curiosity. Students who demonstrate an eagerness and desire to learn just for the sake of learning and apply it to something outside of school stand out.
Structured thought process and creativity set you apart. Bock contends, “Humans are by nature creative beings, but not by nature logical, structured-thinking beings. Those are skills you have to learn. One of the things that makes people more effective is if you can do both.” Rebecca, a sophomore at Brandeis University, used her blogs to demonstrate both her creativity and her ability to develop a structured platform to express it. The ability to do both landed her an internship at a literary agency for the summer.
So whether you are applying to Google or to college, the key is to find your unique angle!