Haziq Norhisham is a senior from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia majoring in Strategy and organizational management. He is the president of the Society for Human Resources Management and a member of the Student Managed Investment Fund and Purdue University Malaysian Students Association. Although he felt unqualified, Haziq refined his resume, practiced his interviewing skills and found the courage to apply for an internship with one of the biggest technology companies in the world, Google. Haziq talks about how energizing and inspiring it was to be around some of the most intelligent and hardworking minds in tech as well as the cool perks that come with being a Google intern at their Malaysia office.
What attracted you to the company/position?
I was mostly attracted to the people and the opportunity to help companies in Southeast Asia with their digital transformation programs. The "Googlers" that I met during networking sessions and interviews were really smart, insightful, and seemed fun to work with. I learned about how Google invests a lot of its resources into their employees and encourages all Google employees to help others and share their knowledge. This amazing culture is what really attracted me to Google. I was also informed about the challenging projects that the company was working on in order to transform the lives of millions of people. I knew that the internship would be a great learning opportunity for me.
What was the hiring process like?
All internship applications needed to be submitted online, so I went to the Google Careers website and submitted my application through Google Form. After about 3 weeks, a recruiter contacted me for an initial interview. Then, I was asked to submit an essay and go through two more interview rounds with the managers. Each interview took about 1-1 1/2 hours, and the whole process took about 6-7 weeks.
Can you tell me a little about what your overall experience was like working there and what your typical day was like?
My experience was amazing. I learned a great deal about Google’s products, digital marketing, and sales. I mainly work for Waze, which is a GPS navigation app with about 70 million active users. I had a wonderful manager who encouraged me to work on challenging tasks or projects like doing a nationwide survey study, leading a team to organize an annual dinner event, and creating videos for Waze users. My co-workers were incredibly supportive and were willing to bring me to their client meetings. I also was invited take part in some of our clients’ board meetings, and I was super nervous!
The working hours were flexible, but I usually came into office around 8:30 – 9:00am. Then, I would have breakfast at a café in the office with other coworkers. Next, I’d check my e-mail and do any urgent work that needed to be done that day before lunch, such as helping my manager to do some analysis for a client presentation or assisting the marketing team to organize an industry conference. Most meetings take place during and after lunch, so I always spent my afternoons having lunch with Google’s clients in the office. Around 5:30pm I'd play a bit of table tennis or a game of pool and then proceed to do research or presentation slides for my projects. I usually went back home around 7:30pm.
How was working/living in Malaysia different from working in America and how did you adapt?
The working style and culture of the people in Asia are definitely different from Americans. At Google, I had to communicate with people from the United States and Europe on a daily basis, and they tend to have a more direct negotiation style, move and make decisions quickly. At the same time, I was also working with clients in Asia who prefer to build personal relationships, have multiple meetings in and outside of the office, and think more thoroughly about the impacts or risks of their decisions. But overall, I think I managed to adapt well. I would say the classes, and the activities at Purdue have helped me to prepare and fit into different cultures, as I have to interact with both Americans and International students every day.
Did you get any cool perks for working with Google?
Yes, the Google interns got some really cool merchandise! I think I have gained a few pounds during my internship also, as the food there was really delicious. I ate too much ice cream. Google was also very generous when it came to accommodation and transportation allowances, but I was responsible for my own expenses, so I always tried to book the cheapest flights possible and use Uber or taxis everywhere I went. One of the coolest perks was the Intern Retreat where most of the interns in Asia gathered in Singapore for a weekend. The internship team rented a huge luxury yacht for us, and we spent the whole night getting to know each other, dancing, and having a barbecue on the yacht. We also got to go to Universal Studios, which is always fun!
Do you feel that your past internships helped prepare you for this one? If so how?
Yes. Google values people who are collaborative, can work well in a team, do things fast and are always improving themselves, as well as their problem-solving abilities. I was lucky to work with wonderful teammates and mentors during my past internships who taught me how to tackle challenging problems that came up in my internship with Google. Also, my past internship experiences and college projects helped me a lot in securing and preparing for the Google internship.
Where do you see yourself working post-graduation?
I am focusing on developing my business acumen and problem-solving abilities across different industries. But I'll most likely work in a management consulting firm after graduation.
How do you feel that your education at Purdue helped you while working for this company?
I think what makes Purdue so special is the combination of local and international students at the university. I learned how to conduct myself around and communicate effectively with people from different cultures and backgrounds at Purdue. Working at a large multinational organization like Google, I had to communicate with people from all over the world every day. For example, a project that I worked on towards the end of my internship involved people from about 10 different countries. It wasn't really difficult for me since some of my classes at Purdue have students from more than 15 countries!
What career readiness tools has Purdue provided you with?
I attended many workshops especially on resumes, interviews, and internships during my first 2 years at Purdue, which has allowed me to learn from graduate students and career consultants at CCO. I also participated in many networking sessions with companies, mostly organized by the clubs in Krannert. Although I knew that many companies in the U.S. do not hire international students, I actually learned a lot and received a lot of valuable advice from the experienced professionals that I met in those company sessions.
What career advice would you give to underclassmen?
My advice is to dream big and work relentlessly to achieve your goals. In my case, I never thought that I was qualified to work for Google but I wanted to experience what it was like to be an intern at one of the most respected tech companies in the world, so I worked really hard for it. If you are going to be an intern soon, realize that you don’t have really much time in 10-12 weeks. Hence, it is important to be fully prepared and treat each day as a precious learning opportunity, beginning with day one. Moreover, be curious and ask a lot of questions during your internship. If you’re not sure how something works, don’t be scared to ask someone. The main point of an internship is for us to learn and everyone in the company wants to help you succeed.