Juan Vasquez, Intern at Google: “The MPCS gave me the tools to better perform my job.”

University of Chicago Masters Program in Computer Science students push boundaries and innovate across many facets of industry. Whether it’s developing seamless UX interfaces, engineering software at fortune 500 companies, working in big data or keeping networks secure; our students use their applied skills education from MPCS to problem-solve, create, and elevate the computer science field. Learn from their stories and discover how a CS background can prepare you for cutting edge internships.

Juan Vasquez, Google and Android Partner Engineering MBA Intern, is currently enrolled in the Joint MBA/MPCS program. He tells us a bit about his Google internship, why Databases helped him a great deal, and why current students should apply everywhere when looking for an internship.

Can you tell us a bit about the Google internship process?

Like many tech companies, Google has a strong relationship with The University of Chicago. They’ll visit to talk about their open positions, their current internships, and the full-time recruiting process. Google's internship process is quite straightforward. You submit an online form, answer a few questions, and then wait for interviews.

What does a great day at your internship look like for you?

Can’t start the day without breakfast! First, it’s Avocado Toast on a food truck that typically parks close to my office. I’ll have a few meetings with people from different sub-teams to better understand how their teams operate, then I learn some of Google's internal tools (e.g. how to use Google's SQL for document databases).

I use what I learn to keep refining my internship deliverables and I try to help other interns who have been struggling with some of those tools. Google has a weekly TGIF meeting where the founders and leaders share a recap of what happened that week and take questions from the audience. Then, i finish my day by hitting the Dance Dance Revolution machine.

Which programming languages and other technologies do you find yourself using regularly? Were these skills you learned in the MPCS?

I'm mostly using Google's internal SQL for both structured and unstructured data. The SQL skills learned in class are immediately transferable and applicable. Having also learned the paradigm under which Non-SQL operates, I would say that is important as well - you want to be able to handle all the data Google has in unstructured formats. I would definitely recommend taking Databases with Zach Freeman.

What was your reason for applying to the Joint program?

I was certain about doing an MBA, since I'm aiming for positions that deal with managerial decisions and people management. But I am a true believer that life is not just about doing what you believe is better, but also what you are passionate about. I was always passionate about technology, so I just found the Joint Booth/MPCS program to be the perfect match for me. It allows me to take classes and learn skills that are not only deeply interesting, but also make me better suited for positions where a mix of business and technology knowledge is required.

Did you come to MPCS with a computer science background?

Not quite. My background is in Electronic Engineering, so I had familiarity with math, but had no prior formal training on programming or algorithms.

Would you recommend MPCS to others? If so, why?

If you have a passion for technology, and are not afraid of math, then this is the program for you.

How has your MPCS education helped you achieve your professional goals?

The MPCS gave me the tools to better perform my job. I am happy I got those tools - in particular because Google is a company strongly driven by its individual contributors. Thus, the more resourceful one can be - the more tools you have - the better you can perform.

What is a piece of advice you’d give someone considering applying to the Joint program?

Ask yourself, “Why?” and think hard. I truly believe one should combine the things that one "needs" with those that one "wants". If you're planning to enroll in the Joint program just because you think you "need it", that might not be the best reason. On the other hand, if you want to take the Joint degree because you find it interesting and can truly invest, then apply!

Do you have any internship advice for someone who may be starting to apply?

Apply everywhere. Don't ever let your subconscious biases dictate which companies you can apply to... and which ones you cannot. Coming from Peru, I always thought Google would be a long shot. But if we don't engage in shooting for the moon, then we will never discover what might be waiting for us on the other end!