UWM student visits Google HQ for North America Connect

International student outside in front of sign at Google HQ

International student Pranay Mandadapu proves that hard work pays off. As the lead of UWM’s new Google Developer Student Club (GDSC), Pranay was invited by Google to attend its North America Connect event from November 4-5 at Google headquarters. We sat down with him recently to learn about UWM’s chapter of GDSC and his exciting trip to Google.

Congratulations to Pranay for participating in such an incredible opportunity, and thank you for representing UWM so positively!

Q: What prompted you to start the GDSC on campus, and how does the club function?

A: I found that it was difficult to study alone when I first started at UWM. Since I learn best by going to others, I wanted to create a standard platform where students could ask questions and exchange information. This led me to create the UWM Google Developer Student Club (GDSC).

As our GDSC club webpage states, we are a “group powered by Google Developers for Students interested in technologies like Web, Software, Data Science, Cloud, and so on. Our goal is to bridge the gap between theory and practice, bring together students from various backgrounds who love learning and applying their skills to solve real-world problems, impact students in a technical aspect and empower them to enhance the technological world ahead of us.”

I started UWM’s chapter in September 2022 and we already have more than 100 members. This semester we’ve held several virtual events with speakers from Google and Dell, as well as a recent UWM alum who’s a software engineer at Astronautics Corporation of America. It’s great to hear from people who directly make decisions in the industry.

Q: How did you score an invitation to Google’s North America Connect event?

A: Since I’m the lead of UWM’s GDSC and our club is very active, Google invited me to attend the North America Connect event. They paid for my hotel and flew me out to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 200 students across the U.S. and Canada attended the event, and I was the only student representing Wisconsin.

Q: What was the event like?

A: The 3-day event took place at the center of Google. The first night we had a welcome dinner, and the next two days were the actual conference where we attended a variety of sessions. Googlers, students, and industry experts attended, and it was fun to see the Googlers in their natural environment. I met so many people at Google who are the main point of contact – like Wesley Chun, the main Google developer advocate for Cloud solutions, and even the developers who are responsible for creating Google Maps.

Q: What professional connections did you make?

A: I had the chance to talk to Wesley Chun about how Google Cloud lacks support for student communities compared to its competitors. Chun was very understanding and wants to work toward a solution. He and other Googlers now want to meet with UWM professors in my department to share what Google Cloud can offer colleges. I’m glad I was able to help build this partnership.

I also talked to another Google Developer Advocate, Martin Omander, at a social mixer. With so many layoffs happening right now in Silicon Valley, I asked him how students can brace themselves for this situation. Omander reminded me that the infrastructure at these companies must be supported by people and that the companies who are currently experiencing significant layoffs will eventually start hiring again. He shared that a period of recession is a good time for students to focus on building their portfolios, putting their projects on Opensource, and properly documenting their work. This way, when companies do start hiring again, these students will be fully ready to apply. My exchanges with Omander were very inspiring.

Q: How did the Google event impact you, and what’s next for you?

A: I was able to share my own experiences with many Googlers, and they told me that I’m in the right spot, which was very validating. It was very different than just hearing from these people in virtual lectures – I was starstruck to meet them in person.

Since attending the conference I’ve started taking myself out of my comfort zone and have started working on app development, whereas before this I was most comfortable with website and Cloud hosting. The conversations at the conference really inspired me to push my envelope and get to know more technologies. I recently landed a full-time internship next summer as a Data Engineer at Kohler, which is really a dream role for me!