Best known as THE search engine, Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while both were PhD students at Stanford University. The tech giant has since reinvented the internet and how information and knowledge is shared. Not only that, seven of its signature products can claim more than 1 billion users each.
Based in Silicon Valley, the company began life as a search engine—originally coined BackRub—that determined the relative importance of individual webpages based on the other pages that linked to them. Page and Brin would later change the search engine’s name to Google, a play on the mathematical term “googol,” for a 1 followed by 100 zeros.
While the company was fast becoming a darling of the internet given its superior approach to search, it wasn’t until the launch of AdWords in 2000 that Google really got on track to become a highly profitable business venture. In fact, Brin and Page were initially against the idea of ads in search. Eric Schmidt, who joined as Google’s CEO in 2001, played an instrumental role in taking the company from ‘nerdy startup with great search but no revenue’ to ‘internet juggernaut’ by pushing forward a revenue model built around ads.
Innovations and growth would only continue. Gmail—a free email service providing super-fast search functionality, ample storage and message threads—debuted on April Fools’ Day 2004. The company’s Initial Public Offering took place later that same year, in August. Google Maps and Google Earth launched in 2005. And Google Chrome—a freeware web browser used on more desktops and smartphones than any other—was released in 2008.
Along the way, Google has made several strategic acquisitions, including digital mapping company Keyhole in 2004 (which paved the way for Google Maps and Google Earth), online video sharing site YouTube in 2006, mobile operating system Android in 2005 and community-based travel and navigation app Waze in 2013.
Though many think of Google as software only, the company has also been increasing its efforts in hardware. Its most recent forays in the hardware department include the October 2016 launch of the Google Pixel smart phone and the November 2016 launch of the Google Home smart speaker.
Google’s employees have also famously been encouraged to pursue innovative ideas outside of their primary job responsibilities—freedom that has led to some of the company’s most creative developments, including Gmail, computer-generated headline aggregator Google News and AdSense, a platform that delivers Google AdWords to individuals’ websites.
In 2015, Page and Brin reorganized the company and formed Alphabet, a multinational conglomerate of which Google is now a subsidiary. Another Alphabet subsidiary, X, serves as a “moonshot exploration arm” of the company, where work has since unfolded on projects ranging from a driver-less car to Project Loon, a initiative to bring internet access to everyone by creating an internet network of balloons flying through the stratosphere. A smart contact lens designed to help people manage diabetes by continuously measuring glucose levels in their tears was also born in X and is now part of Verily, another Alphabet subsidiary (known as Google Life Sciences before the 2015 reorganization).
Google, Inc. employs more than 59,000 people at 70 offices in more than 40 countries worldwide. Its headquarters—called the GooglePlex—is located in Mountain View, CA.
For the latest news and information about the company, check out the website for the most recent annual developer conference, I/O 2016.
The ability to engage in meaningful work that can have a global impact, extremely competitive pay, the freedom to pursue passion projects and unparalleled perks are just a few of the things that make Google one of the most sought-after employers among MBA graduates. That Google is a household brand name that produces products millions and millions of people encounter on a daily basis doesn’t hurt.
While Google is definitely not a startup in the strict sense of the word, its “corporate” culture resembles that of a tech company just closing on its first round of fundraising. Everyone is encouraged to be a hands-on contributor and feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions.
Google employees, affectionately referred to as “Googlers,” collaborate on large, cross-functional/cross-departmental projects. Employees are encouraged to pursue big ideas and innovate at every level of the company. Over-the-top perks, such as complimentary massages and free food at the cafeteria, only sweeten the deal.
Another distinguishing aspect of Google’s culture is its 20 percent time practice. Brin and Page highlighted this idea in their 2004 IPO letter. “We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20 percent of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” they wrote. “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”
Indeed, Gmail, Google News and AdSense all were outgrowths of 20 percent time. That said, more recent reports call into question how prevalent 20 percent time really is, with the company saying that only one in 10 Googlers were actually taking advantage of it last it checked. In his 2015 book Work Rules!, Google Human Resources Senior Advisor Lazlo Bock acknowledges that the practice—which doesn’t technically have formal management oversight—has “waxed and waned” over the years. But he argues that having the option is more important than how many employees take advantage of it. “In some ways, the idea of 20 percent time is more important than the reality of it,” he writes. “It operates somewhat outside the lines of formal management oversight, and always will, because the most talented and creative people can’t be forced to work.”
Google’s recruiting philosophy is simple: Hire people who are smart and determined, and favor ability over experience. In terms of ability, Google is looking for general cognitive ability—as in, how well people learn and acquire new skills—as well as emergent leadership ability—namely, people who can recognize a leadership vacuum and step into it. Candidates must also possess “intellectual resilience” and demonstrate cultural fit by having a shared sense of curiosity, humility and a desire to have an impact in the world. The company also tests for “Googleyness” in an effort to hire “culture keepers who bring their interests and selves to work everyday,” reports a company insider. Finally, candidates should have the necessary experience and skill in the area for which they are interviewing.
In 2015, Google held the APAC MBA Summit, inviting 100 MBA students from across the United States to take part in a special gathering at its Mountain View headquarters. Participants attended professional development seminars, networked with Google employees from around the globe and gained an inside glimpse of the company.
Google MBA interns work on projects that tackle some of the most cutting-edge business challenges in the high-tech industry. They work in the fields of product management, finance, product and customer support, sales and account management, and marketing and communications.
Google offers a unique 11- to 12-week paid internship designed to teach participants about business careers in the tech industry while also enhancing their skills and increasing their ability to have an impact. In addition to their day-to-day work, interns participate in high-touch programs designed to help expose them to the many facets of Google’s business and provide opportunities for networking with full-time Googlers. Interns also participate in personal and professional learning and development, including as part of a one-on-one relationship with a mentor.
These internships are available to full-time MBA students, and the vast majority take place during the summer, usually starting in May or June. Applicants to the MBA internship program are placed in Google’s Ann Arbor, New York, San Francisco, San Bruno and Mountain View locations.
Applications for Google’s MBA internships are accepted between September and November, and interviews are conducted between December and April on a rolling basis. Securing an MBA internship is generally considered to be the surest route to landing a full-time, post-MBA position.
Additional information about internship opportunities for MBA students is available on Google’s Career website.
MBAs who get hired by Google have the opportunity to work on projects in areas ranging from product management and sales to finance, marketing and operations—and everything in between. In words from the Google site, “MBAs find homes throughout the company, making sense of Google’s organized chaos and thriving in the sea of ambiguity that Googlers often get tossed into.”
Off-putting for some, Google does not offer up a cookie-cutter career progression path the way some other recruiters do. “Many MBAs want career pathing, and we just don’t discuss [it] in the way they want to, in the level of detail they seek,” says a Google insider. “In fact, the candidates that need to know ‘where they’ll be in two years’ are not good candidates for Google.”
At Google, MBAs need not only to be able to work in an environment with a degree of uncertainty, but indeed to embrace it and flourish in it.