Google Women Techmakers Scholarship Experience

One of the most enriching experiences of my life.

I won’t go into the details of eligibility and procedure to get the Google WTM Scholarship (previously known as Google Anita Borg Scholarship); you can find that at the official website here. Rather, I intend to put it as a journey of sorts.

Prelude

So things really started for me when I joined Women Who Code Delhi. I joined not because I’m some Feminazi, ready to take down the boys, but because I felt like having a sense of belonging to a community, and this group was helmed by a college senior whom I admired. I took up a few responsibilities and started contributing. So by the time the news of the scholarship came, I felt eligible to apply for it.

 

Applying for the Scholarship

What do they look for in applicants? Volunteer work for women in tech, academic ability and leadership skills. I’ll advise you to apply, even if you don’t get in, you’re better off than others who’ll apply for the first time next year.

The first part of the application is answering some Essay-type questions, such as ‘How have you been contributing to the cause of Women in Tech?’. I got a friend to review it, and would like to heartily thank her (Thank you Abi!) for polishing my answers. The answers are a reflection of your thoughts, interests and experiences. Hence, never helps to lie or copy.

After the first round comes the Interview phase. To prepare for the interview, I went through my written application answers, resume and academic projects. It also helped to have a couple of questions prepared to ask the interviewer. Mine was a half an hour long interview by a Googler from India. It wasn’t a formal technical interview, but just a discussion focusing mainly on my application answers and my views. The interviewer remarked in the end, “I wanted to ask what motivates you, but you already sound so motivated!”. This made my day!

The selected applicants are informed via email. This time, a total of about 71 candidates were selected from 13 different countries. There are three perks of being selected as a Scholar –

  1. 1000$ academic scholarship amount (for people in Asia-Pacific Region)
  2. Google Scholars’ retreat. 2017 retreat was to be held in Seoul, South Korea.
  3. Community of fellow scholars

 

The Retreat

The 3.5 day long retreat is the best thing about the WTM Scholarship Program. This was my first trip outside India, and I was extremely enthusiastic.

Since we arrived a day early, we had time to roam around the beautiful city of Seoul. We visited Changdeokgung Palace and Insadong market place. Proved to be a great time to bond with fellow scholars. I would recommend staying another day or two after the retreat to go touristy again.

The retreat officially started with the Welcome Dinner. It was accompanied by the pleasurable Karaoke. Amazing how people who have different first languages, get together to sing songs.

The agenda for the next three days was set with loads of sessions. Each day started off with a Morning Energizer where we were taught the moves to a popular K-Pop song by a Google employee. The sessions ranged from Bias Busting, tech talk on Search, to Googlers’ panel discussion, and CS Unplugged. We had deep discussions with each other regarding topics that affect us all, such as unconscious biases, and underconfidence.

The final day also involved getting group pictures clicked after a couple of informative sessions. The interesting part of the day was Scavenger Hunt! We got divided into teams and went for “Seoul Searching”, travelling to various places in Seoul. Our team won the Most Creative Award.

 

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A fellow scholar, Chinkita Chugh, has written in detail about all the events conducted at the retreat here.

 

Epilogue

It was overwhelming to meet and become friends with such talented girls, Google recruiters and employees from all across Asia-Pacific. Definitely going to keep in touch with them. The beautiful city of Seoul added cherry to the cake. Being part of an amazing community of like minded individuals from across the world is a surreal feeling. Apart from that, when Google supports all your outreach events by providing funding, speakers and swag, life becomes a little easier. And of course, you get to boast about being a Google scholar 😉

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