By Paul Krause

Along with many, my first “real” programming started with reading “K & R”, the book on the C programming language that Dennis Ritchie co-authored with Brian Kernighan. This “quirky but successful” language was the invention of Ritchie and is the foundation upon which most of the currently used programming languages, C++, Java and more recently, C#, Python and Ruby, have been built. In the early days of C (“K & R” was published in 1978 and remains in print), it was closely linked with the Unix operating system that Ritchie co-authored with Ken Thompson. Ritchie’s background in theoretical computer science meant that Unix had a strong theoretical foundation, leading to it becoming the foundation of choice for Steve Job’s revisionary OS X and Linus Torvalds’ Linux. Thus, although his is not a household name, Ritchie’s work is foundational to the world of e-commerce and social computing that we are in today. Dennis Ritchie died at his home in New Jersey on 8th October following a battle with prostate cancer and heart disease. Throughout his life he retained unchanging values of modesty, friendship and collegiality. His was truly a great mind.

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by Sam Ames
BSc Computing and Information Technology Level 2, 2011-12

Prior to starting my second year of BSc Computing and Information Technology, I was very grateful to receive one of twenty invitations to visit the Google UK offices, Victoria Street, London, and participate in the very first U.K. Google B.O.L.D. Immersion programme: “Building Opportunities for Leadership and Development” As expected, Google received an astonishing number of applications.

The programme has a business focus with a marketing challenge, however several engineering lectures are included too, which is fantastic for computing students. BOLD is available to any UK student who can convince them that they are from a ‘diverse background’ (which could include just about anybody.) For the application process, google request a five-hundred-word essay in which the applicant is to describe his or her ‘personal brand’. This is accompanied by a CV.

The culture at Google is probably the most fascinating part of the organization. When I first arrived at the London offices, a member of the universities team told me that the single best thing about working at Google is the people. After being immersed in the culture for a few exciting days, I totally agree! I didn’t meet a single rude, impolite, unhelpful or unkind person. At all. Nobody seemed stressed, either! Perhaps Google’s decor contributes to this? Breakfast in their Pavilion Cafe, is served on art-pallet style plates. The tables look like those an artist would use and the lighting is like desk lamps attached to the ceiling. It doesn’t end there, though, these themed, super-contemporary decor designs span the entire office spaces of Google, and its many restaurants and games rooms. My group were lectured on innovation, and we were told that ‘environment’ is a key factor; so I can’t be sure, but I suspect that the decor is such high-quality for this reason.

On the final day of my time at Google, the group was separated into several smaller groups of 5. We were then given 3 hours to innovate and decide what the most effective use of £50,000 is, to market Google apps to Small and Medium businesses in an industry of our choice. The group that I was a part of, chose ‘quangos’.  After our three hours was up we were asked to present our Marketing initiatives to Google’s John Foong (Head of Mid-Market Business Development and Sales, Enterprise (cloud computing) division, Europe, Middle East and Africa.) Understandably, this was very challenging. I think everybody who presented did fantastically. In addition I was shocked at how great Google apps and plus actually are; I’d never used either prior to B.O.L.D.

One particular person I met has been recruiting Google’s engineers for 11-years, since working for Netscape during the ‘browser wars’ of the late 90s. I had no idea that I would ever meet people with such inspiring career positions, so this was a total honor.

B.O.L.D. programmes are becoming frequent, so regardless of your degree programme and current grades, make sure to write a stunning application.

[For the full version of this blog, visit http://www.samames.net/articles/google.php]

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by Helen Treharne

The Careers Service is holding a careers and placements fair on Thursday 13 October. Over 100 organisations will be present to help students to find out about opportunities. This is an opportunity for students to find out about vacancies, talk directly to employers and get an insight into their organisation and company culture. We’re looking forward to the event because it will give use a chance to catch up with Computing alumni who will be manning several of the stands. I hear that NATS will bring an air traffic simulator and Detica will also be well represented by some of our students.

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