7-16-2019 – Woman took roundabout path to Google

Posted on: July 16th, 2019 by admin

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July 16, 2019

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By Virginia Annable
vannable@newstopicnews.com

 

Jul 16, 2019 12:00 AM

Lauren Roland didn’t have a typical career path.

Her studies in college centered on history and humanities, and never faltered through undergraduate and graduate school, but when she graduated in 2015, Roland faced a tough job hunt and ended up back home in Happy Valley searching for anything.

 

That’s when she stumbled into a temporary job at the Google data center in Lenoir. She had no computer science experience at the time, but now about three years into working for Google, Roland has become fluent in the technology used there and has fallen in love with the company atmosphere.

 

“It’s kind of a roundabout trajectory,” Roland said. “I never saw it for myself.”

 

Roland always had an interest in technology and was more than computer literate — she built herself a computer after graduating college — so the leap into tech wasn’t too far, she just had no formal training, she said.

 

Roland was first hired after applying at Google’s booth at Caldwell is Hiring, a countywide job fair, for a three month position. She didn’t know exactly what to expect at the massive data center, and the reality was beyond anything she could have expected, she said.

 

“I knew what a computer server was, but I didn’t understand the scale of it (Google’s servers at the data center),” Roland said. “People don’t really go around thinking about where everything on the internet is.”

 

After working just three months at the data center, Roland was able to get another year as a temporary worker.

 

“I didn’t want to leave,” Roland said.

 

The atmosphere promoted learning, improving and collaboration with coworkers, not competition, Roland said. When she decided to study up on computer science to become a full time “Googler” she had support at every turn.

 

“The technical interviews are very hard,” she said. “I have some excellent mentors at Google who would show me things and teach me things.”

 

After going through the interview process, Roland became a full time Googler as a data center technician.

 

Growing up in Caldwell County during the 1990s and early 2000s, Roland saw the effects of offshoring of furniture jobs and then the recession. When she left for college, she never saw herself coming back to her hometown. To now be working at Google is something Roland takes pride in.

 

With Google, Roland gets to reach out into the community she grew up in by volunteering, speaking at local schools and helping to put on the Gravity Games, a soapbox derby competition and festival put on by Google every spring.

 

“It’s gratifying to be out in the community and say, ‘We are here,'” Roland said.

 

The platform also gives Roland a chance to show other local people that tech and science job opportunities are available right in their backyard and that with a strong drive, they can learn anything they need to succeed in the sector, she said.

 

“It’s really cool,” Roland said. “I like to tell them you don’t have to be in California or from California to be in this role.”

 

Roland said she feels a special connection to the people she works with and place she works.

 

“It’s the team and the culture,” she said. “And it’s something unique about Lenoir, we’re known for being scrappy, and doing more with less.”

 

Reporter Virginia Annable can be reached at 828-610-8724.

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