Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns, apprentices and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.
Today’s post is all about Nichole Lasater, a software engineer at YouTube, whose background in both art and engineering led her to Google.
How did you first get interested in software engineering?
I originally planned to study veterinary medicine, but I took a computer science course in college (practically on a whim) and fell in love with software engineering. After graduating with a degree in computer science and game design, I built video games with a group of my former classmates before joining Google in 2019.
What do you do here at Google?
I’ve worked on a few different teams at YouTube, including Trust and Safety and YouTube Kids Web. Right now, I work for YouTube on TV, where I help bring YouTube to living room devices, game consoles and all sorts of entertainment systems. It’s inspiring to work on a product that so many people (including myself) use every day. I also have a background in art — I grew up painting and took digital art classes in college — and I like how this role allows me to bring that passion into my work.
Tell us more about how you bring art into your engineering work.
I care a lot about user experience and user interface (UI). I’ve helped several Google teams revamp their internal websites using Material Design, a set of design tools and best practices from Google. I even built a brand identity for an internal tool — I came up with a color scheme, typography and iconography to help it look and feel more like a modern app. All these projects helped me flex both my technical and design skills and gave my teammates a better experience using these resources.
Anything you wish you’d known when you started the recruiting process?
I have a very different background from many of my teammates — I grew up studying art, planned to major in microbiology and didn’t write any code until college. I was concerned that I wasn’t as knowledgeable as my peers and that I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a software engineer. But I’ve found the opposite is true. My recruiter shared that my background in both art and engineering actually helped me stand out in the interview process. And my team values the unique perspective I bring to this role. I’m not only building products and writing code, I’m helping them look good too.
What did you learn from your job search?
I applied to every opportunity I spotted, even if it wasn’t something I was entirely interested in. Every application was worth the practice. I sent out many more resumes than I got interviews — but looking back, I’m OK with that. It helped me build my confidence and made me less afraid of rejection.
Any tips to share with aspiring Googlers?
I was really afraid at first. I was scared that I wouldn’t fit in since I didn’t have a coding background. But I’ve learned that if something fascinates you, whether it’s art or software engineering, just go for it. Anyone who is passionate and genuinely enjoys the work can be successful. You will find your community.