Bryce Frey is known affectionately as “Google” by his co-workers at Antelope County News.
That’s because Frey, an intern with ACN, is one of only 150 recent graduates that had the fortune of spending a three week internship with the internet giant this summer. The internship was an intensive programming course known as the Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI). The participants were sent to one of five Google campuses across the country, with Frey being sent to Seattle.
During his time there, Frey learned programming, programming languages and how to use Google’s tools to deploy a website. By the end of the program, the graduates teamed with each other to create their own applications using the information they had learned.
The course was taught by current employees of Google, or “Googlers”, who donated their time to the project as part of their “20 percent” time. At Google, employees are encouraged to use 20 percent of their time they are paid for to do a company related project, whether it turns a profit for the company or not. CSSI and Gmail are two products of that program.
While learning how to program an application was a fun experience for Frey, he also enjoyed seeing what the company does to set themselves apart. While many places try to maintain a professional atmosphere, Google, who is consistently ranked among the top employers in the world by various publications, treats the workplace environment quite different compared to most companies.
“The environment is very fun, open and welcoming,” Frey described.
He noted that it is very evident the company wants their employees to enjoy their job as it feels that breeds the most successful and loyal employees.
One of his favorites parts of that initiative was the easily accesible food. There are two food courts and two coffee shops on campus at the Seattle location, as well as a full cafeteria with sushi, pizza and salads among other options. There were also many “micro-kitchens” around the campus with snacks and drinks. All of this is free to all employees.
“We were told there is an informal rule at Google that no Googler can be more than 150 feet away from food,” Frey explained.
He noticed that the company likes to be fun, colorful and playful in their offices. The idea of a cubicle is a foreign concept to the company, with many of the work space in an open-air concept.
Throughout the campus, the company has different designs for the workspace to help the employees choose and environment that they enjoy working in the most. Frey described the different areas as looking like a desk with lots of computers, dining booths along the walls or spaces that give off a feel of working in a coffee shop.
There are also many more playful areas with beanbag chairs to sit in or swings to relax on while a Googler is at work. Nearly all the walls are available to write on with dry-erase markers so employees can easily share ideas and concepts with each other.
When the participants of CSSI weren’t in classes, they spent much of their time simply enjoying the city or Google’s facilities.
“We liked eating and going to the game rooms,” Frey said.
Many Googlers spent time playing various board games while on their breaks and Frey noticed many employees and interns alike playing Pokemon GO.
The three weeks he spent there gave him an opportunity to interact and network with people from all over the country, many of whom he intends to meet up with again in the near future. He was told by a current Google employee that the company enjoys seeing the CSSI participants come back as interns and potentially as employees in the future, an option Frey is certainly considering.
“I felt very confident before that computer science was what I wanted to go into,” he said. “This experience confirmed what I was thinking all along is something I actually want.”
Frey also noted some similarities in the environment at Google and the one at his workplace back home.
“I’m working in an environment that’s not considered a typical work environment, yet I’m surrounded by these people that know what they are doing and are fantastic,” he said. “The people working here are just as motivated as the people working at Google. They have the same fun-loving, yet determined attitude that the people at Google have.”
Now that Frey is back in Neligh, he is taking some time with his family before heading off to Cornell University, an Ivy League school in New York to pursue his re-confirmed dreams of working in computer science.