An exciting day unfolded on December 14, 2023, as students from Yelm High School embarked on an IGNITE Program Field Trip to Google Cloud‘s vibrant Seattle hub. The event featured an enthusiastic team of Googlers, including tour guides Tim Sale, Bonnie Donovan, and Kelly Thompson. The day also featured a panel discussion with Natacha Maheshe, Head of Developer Campaigns and Messaging, Google Cloud Marketing, Beth Fineberg, Software Engineer, Tisia Ingram, Head of Customer Engineering Pacific Northwest, and Jaclynn Gonzalez, Program Manager, Training Operations, and Learning Services, who joined virtually from Chicago.
The event started with a tour of Google’s incredible South Lake Union campus, providing a glimpse into the state-of-the-art facilities enjoyed by the hardworking Googlers: a bike parking garage, hidden nap rooms, a serene meditation room, exercise studios, a soundproof music room, a hair salon, physical and massage therapists, stocked kitchens for employee use, and a large cafeteria overlooking Lake Union that serves complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner to employees. The biggest hit with the students, though, was the full arcade, complete with pool table, pinball machines, arcade games, and a view of the Space Needle. The students got a firsthand look at the cutting-edge technology and innovation that powers one of the world’s tech giants. The immersive experience provided a great lead into the panel discussion, where the Panelists shared their unique career journeys.
During the panel, students posed questions on the evolving landscape for women in technology, the role of AI in job applications, and its impact on society. Each Panelist provided valuable advice, some emphasizing that tech companies, including Google, welcome diverse majors, not just Computer Science. They encouraged students to follow their passions, participate in extracurriculars, and highlighted the importance of independent training. Notably, the Panelists shared with the students that Google offers free courses and online learning opportunities.
Students asked several insightful questions about the positives of being a woman in STEM (being a voice in the room to drive change, overcoming challenges and advocating for yourself can feel empowering and build confidence) and the qualifications for scoring a job at Google (find your passion and focus on learning and being curious over degrees and certifications). The students left the event not only with this excellent career advice but also excited to kickstart their professional journeys.
A huge thank you to Tim Sale, Bonnie Donovan, and Kelly Thompson for your enthusiasm as Tour Guides. A special thanks to Jaclynn Gonzalez, Natacha Maheshe, Beth Fineberg, and Tisia Ingram for sharing your personal and professional stories with the students. Additional thanks to Fer Vargas and Cynthia Pichardo your invaluable contributions to this event, and to Leslie Redd for going the extra mile while planning this event to ensure that Googlers and students alike had the best possible experience. Lastly, a big thank you to Educator Karla Blowers for ensuring her students could take full advantage of this amazing opportunity!
After attending this event:
Here’s what the students thought of the event:
“I loved today! It was the best field trip ever! My biggest takeaway is that I can work in tech and psychology!” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“The tour of the campus has made me more comfortable with STEM as a possible career path for me. I love Google, and the staff members are very kind and respectful.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event was really fun and interesting. I liked seeing how open the office is and how fun the environment is! It was really welcoming and homey. Thanks to everyone! The stuff in the bag was pretty cool and useful. Had a lot of fun.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today made me see that STEM is more than just computers. STEM is about the community people are in and the ones they are creating. The environment was so much different than I thought it would be; it was much more welcoming.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today’s event helped me see that women can work in a field mainly consisting of men and know that women of color can work in this field, too. Personally, being bilingual and Native American and the first generation on both my mom and dad’s side changed my point of view. Knowing that I can do something like this is life-changing. The volunteers were a big part of changing my mind on STEM. I always wanted to be a mom and have a career where I can work and be in their lives; this showed me I can do that.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student
“I now understand that Google isn’t a place just for computer people. Also, it’s okay to change paths, even if it’s something completely different. Thank you everybody, I enjoyed it very much!” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today’s event inspired me to pursue careers that interest me, even if I don’t have a degree. The environment, the people, and everything helped me tremendously. My biggest takeaway was the helpfulness displayed by the Googlers who showed us around the office. I appreciate the amazing work environment and it encourages me to take a job at Google.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event made me feel welcomed as a woman who wants to go into a STEM career. I learned a lot about how Google operates on a daily basis.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“I had no idea how well they treat people in STEM. The girls here made me more comfortable with pursuing my dream. Today made me more motivated to continue my path and this experience showed me what else I can do to become who I want.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“Well, when I first got here I was thinking that this will just be a nice opportunity, but I never thought that it would change my perspective so differently. I really think that this might be something I might consider for my future. Though I am unsure in what field, this has opened my eyes a lot more. I appreciate all the volunteers that came to open up my eyes. I appreciate everyone who came to help me understand Google more and make me open my ideas for the future. I appreciate the variety of everyone’s background.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“I am now considering double majoring; I never considered that as an option. I was only trying to focus on one subject. After listening to the Googlers, I understand how much my career could change and want more of a safety net. I noticed that the building has many lounge areas; they have things like 3 meals a day, massage chairs, and nap rooms. It seems like good mental health is supported.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“It was really awesome. I will always remember today. I loved learning more about Google Cloud.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“With or without a degree, you can still pursue tech and can pursue tech at the same time as pursuing your other desired career. I gained more knowledge about pursuing tech and I am super thankful for the Panelists, volunteers, and staff at Google. I had a great time and experience. The work environment is super cool.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today gave me a lot of knowledge of STEM and what it is. It made me more confident in the field, too. Google produces inclusive and comfortable experiences for everyone. Thank you all so much!” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“This event helped show how there are many opportunities for jobs in STEM that I am able to do. I think STEM is a nice career path for the future.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“It was very inspiring to get to see women working in such a cool field that I knew very little about. I think it was very cool to see the different career choices within Google. I really enjoyed the Google environment! Thank you Googlers!” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today’s event inspired me because it showed that even if there aren’t a lot of women in STEM, someday there will be. It also showed me that an office buildings can be calming. I loved how the atmosphere felt; everyone was comfortable and calm.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today’s event inspired me by making me feel more confident. This event showed me more about STEM and showed me things I wasn’t aware of. Some of my big takeaways from today include the helpful and kind Google people, and the different perspectives that I got. I was able to expand my horizons to new things and enjoy stuff I didn’t know about before.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today made me feel like the future could take me anywhere, and I’m going to be open-minded about my career. My big takeaway is that every woman who was in this room is making a difference just by being here. Pushing against sexism and misogyny is tough but worth it.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today helped me understand the different uses of tech. I think this inspired me to use more AI in my research. That I want to look into coding. I also want to look into web design and security.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“I really liked hearing about different aspects of tech and how many jobs there are. Thank you volunteers- it was really fun!” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student
“Today’s event has inspired me by giving me more information about Google. It gives me an idea of another possible career in the future. My big takeaways from today are the tour of the building with the look of the work environment as well as the information about how it’s like to work at Google.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
“I have always been stuck on careers. This trip helped me understand not everything is a lifelong commitment. Although education is useful for a Google job, it isn’t mandatory. A big takeaway was that a potential future plan for me could change instantly, and there is nothing wrong with that. I can still take my time into looking into forensic science, business, accounting, and tech.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student
“There is so much more to STEM than I ever knew. It can go with various careers and is a good way to get new skills. There is so much more to STEM than I could have ever imagined, and I look forward to seeing where this takes me.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student
“First of all, just the Google building alone makes me want to pursue a career in STEM (specifically at Google). Seeing all the women, especially the women of color, made me feel more confident in pursuing this field. Your major doesn’t decide your future; all sorts of careers are open to people with all sorts of degrees. I loved how inclusive the work environment was.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student
About Google Cloud:
Google Cloud, offered by Google, is a suite of cloud computing services that provides a series of modular cloud services including computing, data storage, data analytics, and machine learning, alongside a set of management tools.
About IGNITE Program Field Trip Events:
IGNITE Field Trips offer a memorable, behind-the-scenes look at STEM in action and the wide range of career opportunities at the host company. Company employees interact directly with the students through an office tour, hands-on STEM activities, and IGNITE Panel and Q&A discussion.
About IGNITE Worldwide:
IGNITE Worldwide is a 501(c)3 nonprofit STEM education organization that aims to change gender and racial equity in STEM permanently and systematically. We work directly with teachers during the school day to provide programming that promotes gender equity and representation in STEM academics and careers. Through our award-winning program, IGNITE provides engaging, hands-on events that connect students with STEM professionals from industry leaders from around the world. Learn more at www.igniteworldwide.org.