In Which I Am A +1

September 23, 2014

This post will be a little rushed as my draft was deleted and I’m already well behind.

The rest of the week was busy in much the same way with a few additions. The evening brought an interview for ISAB, the international student advisory board, a group dedicated to connecting with the administration over issues of international student welfare. My interview went fairly well, though I felt I ranted a little about the state of undergraduate education. My time at Hineni had made me quite a fiery critic of many educational practices within universities.

Following the interview, I had a little time to get back to homework before heading off at 9PM for a Google recruiting event. I was attending as a +1 of Nikki Limtiaco, Rigel’s girlfriend and a former student of mine with whom I was good friends. The event was held at Pod, the fanciest sushi bar around and Google provided generously with much food and an open bar. I eventually gave in and tried one of the nicer whiskeys while chatting to a Google engineer, Michael who had previously worked in my current lab. The event was highly enjoyable with many of the top students from Penn CIS attending. I made a bunch of new friends and additionally swapped details with Michael who had a lot to say about where I would be working for the next few years.

I returned late and got a little more work done before the usual start the next day. Class on Thursday were the same as always but I was incredibly stressed out by my homework load. I did attend the Glee/Penn Dance mixer in the evening, but stayed for a little over half an hour before returning to my room to continue working. Friday was much the same however the evening held a few fun differences. Friday at 3:30PM was my Penn Pipers audition, an acapella subset of the Glee Club, known for their quality of tone and ability to blend. I was excited to audition as not doing so was one of my few regrets from my previous time at Penn. The audition went very well, with me singing a rendition of “Fly Me To the Moon” as popularized by Sinatra.

From there I attended the PennApps opening ceremonies. For those who missed my previous accounts of PennApps, it’s a ‘hackathon’ (read: programming competition) with over six hundred attendees from around the world coming to Penn to compete for tens of thousands of dollars in prizes. Though I wouldn’t be hacking away all of Saturday, it was still an opportunity to see friends, generate new ideas and meet new people.

After the opening ceremony I raced to Hillel, where I met with a few graduate students to head to Rodin for a meal hosted by Sarah. The meal was small and lovely and went late. However my night still wasn’t over as I headed back to PennApps to play board games with the representatives who were there from Facebook.

The next day I woke up just in time for lunch, arriving at Hillel where I was to meet Elan and Naomi Hachen who were hosting me for that meal along with yet more graduate students, including Debby whom I had become friends with the previous week and who had also attended Sarah’s meal. The meal was really lovely, and again went late into the afternoon. At around 8PM I headed back to PennApps, this time with my laptop and was reading to do some coding my self.

I was up way into the late hours of the night coding, reading up on documentation and finally at 4AM, finished my project and walked home to get into bed for a few hours before judging and presentations.

Facebook – Week 7

April 1, 2014

The rest of this week, Scott was going to be away, so it was up to me and Zejia to hold down the fort. I resolved to make big strides this week and to improve on all the suggestions that had been provided to me. While I was uncertain as to the level of extra projects I could complete on the side, I was confident that I could at least up my productivity and level of engagement with other engineers.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent dealing with queries related to my project from a lot of other engineers, and helping them out with small tasks that I assigned to them as part of my project.

Thursday at 11AM was the start of the company hackathon, a twenty four hour period in which engineers were encouraged to create something other than what might help them in their normal work, and create something innovative. While I can’t provide you details of exactly what I worked on, needless to say it was something very different from the rest of my internship. The only breaks I took from hacking that day were for meals and of course, for acapella rehearsal. My hackathon team stayed late into the night, though one by one the other members disappeared till it was only me and one other left. At about four thirty I caught an ‘uber’ (unlicensed taxi) home to catch at least a couple of hours of sleep before heading back into work.

I would have seriously considered working from home on Friday but for the fact that the acapella group was to be leaving in the afternoon for Lake Tahoe for a  weekend ski retreat with ‘Googapella’, the Google group.

The day was a little unproductive with my mind in no place to solve more complex problems effectively, I ended up taking a brief nap in the afternoon to settle my head and had a talk with Zejia, my coworker, about ideas we could use to improve my project.

Soon it was time to leave, and Gus, Caitlyn, her friend Erin and I clambered into Gus’ car and set out for Lake Tahoe, a popular ski resort, lake and town in a beautiful area of California. When we arrived Anna from Googapella, who had arranged the trip, met us. She was delightfully bouncy and vibrant, a dancer in her free time and a mother and wife too! She was a taking a little off-duty time for a day and a half to enjoy herself with the two acapella groups. The house was filled with snacks, fruit and mounds of food, more than I thought we’d be able to eat. There was a piano on one side and plenty of room for two busses full of singers.

Later that evening, the rest of the crew trickled in. I won’t go into depth and describe everyone but needless to say they were a group of highly varied people, from a significantly tall and rationally thinking Netherlander (R-J) to a wild poly couple (Liesl and Dave). We were divided up into two cabins, ‘the party cabin’ and ‘the sleeping cabin’, I was in the party cabin which had more beds, more people and the kitchen. Later that night it became evident why it was called the party cabin. To put it politely, the Googlers were full of energy. The house was noisy all the way through to about 4.30AM when some people finally crashed. A few others were still too energetic to submit to sleep, with one individual, Rico, not sleeping at all through the night.

The next day was somewhat calmer, with hangovers presiding over much of the proceedings. After a prolonged breakfast the group split between those going skiing and the others and I who were more interested in taking a walk around the area. Stepping outside we were met by gorgeous vistas across the lake, and resolved to find a way down to the beach. We walked for a time around the circumference of the lake till the path ended sharply. Before us there was a wooden gate with a sign indicating that the beach was private. However barely a minute passed before one of the residents of the area came and opened the gate for us, after eliciting a promise from us that we would behave and not litter. The view from the pier on the beach was stunning and we stayed for a while to gaze at the blue and green vision.

Lake Tahoe

About an hour later we returned to the cabins, as the sun slowly started to droop in the sky. The next few hours were relatively chilled again, as Dana, the ‘mother’ of the acapella group, prepared dinner and a few tired skiers returned. I and a few others sat down to play ‘Avalon’, a fantastic tabletop card game that Amalia Hawkins had introduced me to the week prior. Tensions and tempers flared as we all tried to prove our ‘innocence’ in-game. Another activity that evening included a sing-a-long hosted by the ever-talented Karolina with me jumping in to play for a few songs. There was also a prolonged conversation on the benefits and detriments of having kids, with people split roughly fifty-fifty on their preferences to have or not to have them.

The remainder of the evening was spent on a game of psychologist, though a slightly more adult version than the one I was used to running on camps. The rule was simple enough that my fifteen year olds probably would’ve had it out in a number of minutes but the two individuals chosen took a little longer, perhaps due to their unfamiliarity with such games. It made me miss home a little to think of what the kids I take might be doing and how their camp was with me abroad.

The game finally ended at around five AM which resulted in a rather late wakeup the next day. People were fairly lazy around breakfast again, however we were soon up and about packing for the return journey. After a number of goodbyes and exchanges of contact information, the rest of Gus’ car and I hit the road again, arriving back just after eight PM.

Tired as I was, with my days in California fast coming to a close I contacted Jeff, a friend from Penn and we had a later dinner together, discussing his new life at Google, and both of our plans for the future.

Finally, after dinner and a walk, I made it into my own bed and collapsed pretty quickly, needing a good night’s sleep for what was certain to be an intense week.

Final Day – Monday – Day 309

June 6, 2013

Well I guess this is it… the end of the road. Still not sure if or how much I’ll be updating this blog once I finish coverage of getting home.

I started today with one last great hurrah, a visit to the Google office in NYC with the lovely Samantha Merritt. It was pouring outside in the morning, and so a little damp, I made my way downtown via subway. My tour of the office ran for about an hour and was even more fun than I imagined it would’ve been. From the great workspaces, to the numerous cafes (with delicious fruit smoothies!), it seemed like an awesome place to work. Lining the walls was tech memorabilia and the hallways were filled with Dr Who references and Lego. I was greatly appreciative for the opportunity and it made me wish to work at a similar place at some point in my career.

Following the tour I had a number of errands to run, boxes to post and bags to pack, but soon I was off to the airport. Security was a little more painful than normal, and the flight experienced minor delays but very soon I was off the ground, sitting in a row of three seats all to myself. By the time I woke up from sleeping, we had already landed in LA. The best sort of flight.


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