Attending the Google Student Retreat 2018 – Part 2

written by Marie October 8, 2018

Google Student Retreat - Women Techmakers Scholars 2018

I had the great honor of being awarded the Google Women Techmakers Scholarship through my involvement with women in technology, leadership and academic achievement. This scholarship comes with a 3-day retreat at Google’s headquarters in California, and this is the retreat I will tell you about in my article.

So I had the chance to fly from Montreal to San Francisco on August 12th. About 250 people were at the event. For the first time this year, Google’s CodeU program, with more than 200 people, was paired with the 53 scholars. The participating scholarships at retirement were Google Lime Scholarship for students with disabilitiesWomen TechmakersGeneration Google Scholarship and Google Student Veterans of America.


Read part 1 of this blog post with my day 1 & 2! 

Watch my vlogs

Third day – August 14, 2018

This third day was reserved for scholarship recipients only. This day was the highlight of the retreat. It’s hard to put this beautiful experience into words.

8:15 am – Breakfast

9:30 am – Intro to Outreach initiative

Google lobby at Moffet Place

This presentation is the one that touched me the most. I heard someone at Google say, “This scholarship you received means that Google believes in you. Google invests in you. Sometimes we do not believe in ourselves, but I hope that after this retreat you will realize your potential.

I never thought I’d be able to hear those words one day especially in a Google building, so I have to say it was really amazing. Also, 3 tips were given to us:

  • The difference we think there is between us is smaller than we think
  • The answer to most of our problems is in this room. It’s the power of networking.
  • Position yourself as a leader in your community.

It really was a presentation that I will remember for a long time.

9:45 am – Former Scholars Panel

That too, it was really very intense. I had to restrain my emotions so I wouldn’t cry. I was so shocked by this inspiring panel of two former Google grant recipients that I was not able to take down a lot of notes.

They both work at Google today, and their journey is so inspiring. They seemed so truly happy in the company which was beautiful to see.

One of the panelists is autistic and has often felt this to be an obstacle to her academic success and career. She told us an anecdote that had changed her life and touched me a lot: she was having trouble graduating, so she went to see somebody at her university and he told her that he was not able to read his e-mails, he had an assistant to do it. That’s when she realized that he had a disability like her and that it did not stop him from having a successful career. She decided to start talking about disabilities and advocate for other people with autism.

10:45 am – Women Techmakers Breakout

There were 50 people in the room. We were all divided into groups according to the scholarships we received. All those who received the Women Techmakers scholarship like me were therefore discussed around the table!

The discussion could have been about anything, but of course, we all discussed the problems we face as women and minorities in the technology industry.

I am often confronted with the testimonies of other women and the difficulties they experience: that they are not taken seriously during meetings, that they are ignored, etc. I’m really happy to say that I have not experienced anything like this yet…

It was really informative for me, and I’m happy to know that I can count on them if I need advice when I start my professional life…

11:30 am – All Scholars discussion

I loved that part of the day as well. We were able to hear a representative from each exchange summarize what was said to them during the “private” discussion.

For example, recipients of the Google Lime Scholarship talked about visible and invisible disabilities. That their reality was very different and sometimes difficult.

Recipients of the US Army Veterans Scholarship have talked about their difficulties connecting with younger students since they are older. They have different approaches to life and problem solving, so it’s a challenge for them. The resources available to these students are very different from one university to another.

12:15 pm – Lunch

1:30 pm – PhD Questions & Answers

I chose this presentation since I am starting a master’s degree and I do not know if I want to pursue a Ph.D. In this presentation, 2 Googlers spoke to us a little about their academic background. Afterward, it was up to us to ask questions for the remaining amount of time!

2:30 pm – Landing the interview

I learned a lot during this presentation! It was given by a recruiter from Google who gave us advice for our resume.

It would be too long to give all his advice in this article. I can, however, tell you these 4 points to remember about your CV:

  • It is a living document that should be adapted to the different roles to which we apply
  • Your résumé should reflect our achievements and successes
  • It must follow a format and should be clear and simple
  • Everything on our CV can be used in an interview!

I was surprised to learn that through the different stages of interviews to apply to Google, the interviewers do not talk to each other. So if we have completely failed an interview, we must get through and do our best on the next, our chances are not zero.

4:00 pm – Lightning talks

My friend Hannah giving a lightning talk about her Ph.D project!

We had about 5 5-minute lightning talks from other scholars. It was really a very moving moment as well, but that, I’ll keep it for myself! 😉

I loved the presentation of my friend Hannah Kerner on her doctorate. It was really inspiring. She uses machine learning on Mars to find out what’s interesting and what’s changed on the planet!

5:00 pm – BBQ with CodeU

We then returned to the center of Moffett Place to enjoy a BBQ with several activities. There were 2 photo booths, tattoos, 2 ice cream stands, cotton candy, blankets on the floor, checkers and Connect 4! It was a really a beautiful late evening, which in a way,  marked the end of the retreat!


7:00 pm – Back to the hotel


Fourth day – August 15, 2018

8:15 am – Breakfast

9:30 am – Community Building

Another occasion where I held back my tears. For one hour, each fellow expressed what retirement has allowed them to learn and how we have grown from our experience.

In turn, we got up when it tempted us and we spoke. A great moment for me!

10:30 am – Connect With Google

We will be able to keep in touch with Google, so we were told how it was going to be!

10:45 am – End of the retreat

All good things have an end!



This blog post was the last one of my series about my Google Student Retreat trip! I hope you enjoyed it! Let me know if you have any questions about the retreat or the Google Women Techmakers scholarship, I would be happy to help!

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1 comment

Cecile July 16, 2019 - 5:42 am

Both this, the first post, and the videos were so interesting and almost surreal to read and watch!! I’m considering applying for the Europe/Middle East/Africa version next year (as I’ll be attending university in Europe), but I also live in the bay area and have grown up here, so I read and watched out of curiosity of the event. But it was so intriguing to watch you look at everything with awe and wonder that I see every day. The mountains in the background are to me boring and brown in the summer, and look so much better when they turn bright green in the winter, and Santa Clara to me feels flat and boring, but to you its as all beautiful. Levi’s stadium to me was “wait, they’re the SAN FRANCISCO 49ers! Why are they moving so far away from San Francisco?” and I tend to care more about the amusement park that shares its parking lot, but to you it was amazing and unlike anything you’d ever seen before. I don’t know what exactly I’m trying to say here, just that this was all a super interesting read/watch and the grass is always greener on the other side? Haha- anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed your stay in sunny California!


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