ITMO Student at Google Android Camp

Instead of Internships

It all started last year, when Daria Yakovleva, from the Information Systems Department at ITMO University, applied for an internship at Google. Although she didn’t get in, Sara Collins, who was organizing the Google Android Camp, sent her an invitation for the one-week school. As you may already know, Ms. Yakovleva took 9th place in Google Code Jam to I/O for Women, and also teaching and organizing olympiads for programming, both on the homefront and abroad. All of this played a role of course, and on 31st of July, she found herself in Google’s London Office. Twenty-five people from different countries including Bulgaria, Romania, U.K. Russia, Croatia, South Africa and more joined her at the camp.

“One of the missions of the camp was for the participants to learn mobile application development for Android, starting with an introduction and ending with working with maps, alerts, animations and more. We talked a lot with leading engineers and developers at Google, who told us how they ended up working there. Some of them tried to get in ten times. We also had a chance to talk to recruiters who shared some lifehacks, how to get through the interview process, how to prepare for the interview, and what problems you will have to solve in advance. Beyond this, at the end of the week, we had a 24-hour hackathon. We presented our projects and programs, and the company experts evaluated them.” explained Daria.

At the Hackathon, five teams presented new ideas for mobile applications, and implemented them using Google products. A student from ITMO University, together with her colleagues wrote an application for foodsharing called FoodUnity. The idea was that users of the program could find people, who could give away quality food, or, the opposite, for those who need it to find it. Users could indicate whether they wanted to give or receive and could see on a map where they could find food nearby. They wrote the application for a tablet, however it can be used on other platforms. Other projects were also very useful, for example, one of the teams worked on a program called “Tuber” for finding tutors and students. There was also a project designed to save lives. It was called “We need a Doctor”, a famous phrase from the British TV show Doctor Who. This application helps you to choose the right medicine, in case you get sick. Despite the fact that the projects were designed and codes were written, their purpose was exclusively educational, so these new apps won't be showing up in your play market any time soon.

Not by code alone

Participants of Google Android Camp stayed in a hotel not far from the center of London, and thus they were able to get to know the capital of the U.K. in their spare time. Daria visited the exhibition of Queen Elizabeth’s outfits, London’s famous ferris wheel, the London Eye, visited Buckingham Palace, saw Big Ben and walked through London at night. As the students noted, the weather and atmosphere of the city at night reminded them of St. Petersburg.

This year, completely by chance, the participants of the camp were exclusively young female programmers. The last camp was mixed, having both male and female programmers.

“One of the first things we discussed when we met together was the question of gender stereotypes in the profession. Surprisingly, all the participants mentioned that they faced various kinds of prejudice regularly. However they don’t take much notice of it and just try to show themselves and their talents and be more successful than others.” explains Daria Yakovleva.

The camp schedule included a daily informal lunch with developers and dinner in a restaurant with the national cuisine. The book “Cracking the Coding Interview” was given to all the participants of the seminar. Also they received a large database from Google Firebase which is useful for the work of programmers at any level.

“We heard a lot of personal experiences of working in Google, about challenges that had to be overcome in order to get into the company. These were real success stories, motivating us to work harder. Something that really impressed me was the story of a girl who works in the Israel Office. She applied for the job several times, and then participated in the Android Camp, which gave her more confidence and forced her to develop her skills. Soon after, she successfully got a job working at Google full time. We didn’t ask about how much they get paid, as the focus was on intangible values.” explained Daria.

Despite the fact that Google provides a very good environment, the work of a developer who is just starting out has its drawbacks, explains the student. You can have several thousand such employees in one office who more often than not, stay in the same position for a very long time. Daria says that she’d like to participate in an internship at Google, but she’s not ready to move to another country. According to her, there are great companies in St. Petersburg that have equally good conditions and scale of projects. St. Petersburg is a beautiful city with a lot of opportunities, for example, you can at least earn enough to buy property, unlike in London. Daria is enjoying working in her own department, as there is lots of freedom that many employees of large companies only dream of.