Mountain View, California. Park Bo-young, graduate of English Language and Literature. Located in Mountain View, California, “Googleplex” is the corporate headquarters of Google, arguably the most influential multinational technology company in the world. The hectic schedule of this corporation is managed by the hardware operation team.
As of now, the only Korean woman to be on the Google Hardware Operation Team, Park Bo-young, shared her journey to the Googleplex. Unlike many students who blueprint working abroad before graduating, Park never imagined herself living in a foreign country all by herself.
“When I was in school, I did not have a clear goal of what I wanted to do in the future but I tried my best to experience different works, experiencing as much as possible so that I would not regret my career after settling in a permanent job,” Park said. “However, this is not a matter of right or wrong, but rather depends on the individuals’ long term goals.”
After she got a job at Google Korea, she went on business trips to Mountain View. In the blink of an eye, she started to find herself fascinated by the tranquility of San Francisco. However, Park emphasizes that there is a considerable gap between merely dreaming of working abroad and actually putting in the efforts in the real world.
“After starting to consider working in the U.S., it took nearly three months of contemplation just to decide whether I should apply for a position in Mountain View,” Park said. “I concluded that it would not hurt to stay in the States for just one year.”
Competition for a position in Googleplex is not national, but is done on a global scale. Since résumés are submitted from all over the world, it is crucial to to know what you need to work on to stand out.
“I initially prepared for MBA application upon my director’s suggestion,” Park added. “But I soon quit and chose to build my experience working abroad instead, since my desire to pursue an MBA all stemmed from my desire to get a job in the States.”
Inside the buildings, one of the most notable characteristics of Google was the unique interior, which differs greatly from what most people would imagine when thinking of office interiors. Decorated with colorful light bulbs and a slide connecting the top floor to the first floor, it seemed to reflect the open-minded and creative culture of Google.
“Unlike Korea where people find it uncomfortable to reveal their plans to transition to another team, especially to their directors, the work culture in the U.S. values personal development just as much as the development of the entire company,” Park said. “Keeping track of an employee's future goals and supporting them by adjusting their roles, like giving them related projects, are also considered as a managers’ responsibility.”
The unconstrained atmosphere, which encourages employees to voice their thoughts, may seem ideal, but it can be an obstacle for many in Korea who are taught that keeping your thoughts to yourself reflects appropriate modesty.
“My initially introverted personality made it difficult for me to present my opinion, especially in between my co-workers’ enthusiastic remarks during meetings,” Park pointed out. “I am still working on speaking out more actively.”
Although many female students may have dreamed of working abroad, expecting the working environment in the U.S. to be more women-friendly, the glass ceiling is present in the Silicon Valley as well, though less solid and more sensitively dealt with. Racism may be another obstacle that people easily overlook.
Despite such limits, there certainly are many benefits to working in the States. Employees’ welfare including child-care leave is guaranteed in most U.S. companies, up to the point that it is considered odd not to take it.
“Both men and women are provided with a child-care leave for about five months without any external pressure from the manager,” Park said. “You can talk about projects you wish to work on afterwards, planning your return in advance.”
Even though Park was able to reach what she now achieved now through her experience in the past, she once was anxious of seeing her friends graduate and settling on a stable job when she was still exploring her career path. She reminded those struggling to find the “right” path and assured that everybody is anxious about the course they are on.
Her ultimate goal now is to be a person who can imapct people's daily life, either by volunteering or taking part in launching a new service that would enhance the quality of everday life style.
“It has been six years since I started working here and I still feel unsure about my future and the work I am doing,” Park commented. “However, this is the same for most of my co-workers as well. There is no need to be anxious just because you are uncertain of your compatibility with your current job.”
Emphasizing how her experience later turned out to be what led her to reaching her goal, she advised students to search for more opportunities and keep a proactive attitude.
“Preparing a decent resume is the most basic and essential step of preparing for overseas employment and actively seeking for opportunities depends on individual effort,” Park pointed out. “I know that people value brand names when choosing a job. However, it is more important to find a company that can provide you with the genuine experience that goes beyond a perfunctory line on your résumé.”
Reporter: Kim Ka-young