Friday, September 5th, 2008...10:49 pm

Hello Google & Hello Shanghai, a brief history

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I now live in Shanghai, China.  I’m here to spend 3 months as an engineering intern at Google.

It all started with an experimental class at the University of Washington.  The class was called “Problem Solving on Large Scale Clusters” (course website).  The class was an academic outreach initiated by Google to help spread awareness of the programming paradigm Google uses.  The class focused on solving problems using Hadoop, an open source implementation of Google’s internal MapReduce tool set.  The class was implemented by Christophe Bisciglia, a Googler and UW Alumni.  At one point during the term he came up to check out the projects and spend time chatting with students.  During our conversation, he mentioned that he was on his way to help operations at Google China.  It grabbed my interest.  I had always been fascinated with China and had thought multiple times that I wanted to travel there.  “Maybe I could go work with him…” I thought to myself.  But a long term relationship, a full time degree and part time job caused me to dismiss the idea rapidly.

A year later Alex Loddengaard a former 490H class mate, went down to interview for Google in Mountain View. On his way back he was randomly seated next to Christophe.

Alex didn’t take the job in Mountain View.  He decided to go work in Shanghai with Christophe.

In the year after taking the 490H class a lot had changed for me.  I had done a 6 month spell as a full time software developer in Portland, Oregon.  During those six months I traveled to Shanghai for work.  I went to two International schools to help train teachers how to use the software I developed.  I fell in love with China.  Also during those six months, I fell out of love and was now back in Seattle at school.  I was still working part time for the Portland company and taking classes full time.

When I found out about Alex’s position I was happy for him, but I was also envious.  I would kill for the opportunity to travel to Shanghai under the context of working for Google.  Technology is redefining China so quickly. I had seen it first hand when I visited.  I wanted to understand it further, and have something to do with it.

After a few weeks of being blind to the obvious I realized I didn’t have to kill for the opportunity… I just had to interview for it.  I had Alex put in the good word for me with Christophe and after a round of phone interviews and about 2 months of waiting around I had a job offer and an international plain ticket.  I took a leave of absence from my job in Portland and now here I am.

The internship is to last from September 4th to December 20th.  I am not sure what my project will involve or how much I’ll be able to discuss, but I am hoping to somehow have an impact and increased understanding of the changing relationship between China’s culture and technology.  I also hope to bike around, eat street food, make friends, and do things I wouldn’t have guessed I wanted to do.

Should be a good time.

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