Google gaggle

In the 2013 comedy “The Internship,” actors Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play laid off 40-something watch salesmen who land internships at Google, competing against scores of tech-savvy younger interns for a coveted job at the Internet giant.

The two actors perhaps could have gotten a leg up by enrolling in Carolina’s minor in entrepreneurship or “e-minor” program, based in the department of economics in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

At the tech behemoth, six standout young UNC alumnae are doing everything from writing code, making YouTube music better and promoting STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — careers to using their tech skills to promote causes and sports. They all credit the e-minor program for much of their success.

These “Googlers,” as employees are known, work at a sometimes controversial $50 billion company that’s shaping today and tomorrow.

Two got their start as Google interns. The e-minor program consists of classes and an internship, and it provides real-world lessons from successful entrepreneurs. Nearly 1,000 students have enrolled in the e-minor since it launched in 2005.

‘Awesome things every day’

Raleigh native Abby Bouchon ’13, a biology major, joined Google in a role that makes the most of her keen science aptitude and desire to be part of the next big thing. She says she hopes to help create a community for women in science and technology “to continue to do awesome things every day.”

Bouchon works in Google’s New York office to amplify programming for major science organizations such as NASA, code.org and National Geographic.

She recently demonstrated her passion for beekeeping in a video highlighting how Google Glass, a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display, could be used to teach beekeeping. The video was shot in a most unlikely place — atop New York’s landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel on Park Avenue. The segment was then shared with over 800 members of the Google+ Beekeeping Community.

Bouchon calls the opportunity to work at Google “a once in a lifetime experience. UNC and the entrepreneurship minor taught me that if you stick with your passions and are true to yourself, you can shoot for the stars.”

Lyons and Bouchon on scooters in the NYC office. (photo by Chris Klemens)

Lyons and Bouchon on scooters in the NYC office. (Photo by Chris Klemens)

For Meghan Lyons ’13, a former UNC field hockey player from Wilmington, Del., the journey to Google has reconnected her to her alma mater. She’s pursuing her passion for sports and social platforms as a marketing associate in Google+’s community partnerships in sports in New York.

While at Carolina, Meghan served a wide variety of organizations, including the Carolina Athletics Strategic Plan Advisory Board and two terms as president of the Student Athlete Advisory Council. Her passion for connecting athletes to community causes made her a natural fit for Google.

In January, Lyons interviewed tech-savvy, former Tar Heel basketball star Harrison Barnes, a forward with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, for a Google+ Hangout piece.

Most recently, she worked with Denver Bronco Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton to take Broncos fans to Super Bowl XLVIII with the team through Google Glass.

Lyons said the e-minor introduced her to some of the most creative minds at Carolina — and, in turn, some of her greatest friends.

“It’s neat to see my fellow UNC grads doing well. The projects that many of us worked on together at Carolina provided a great launching pad,” she said.

‘A tribute to great students’

Google, which was founded in 1998 as a search engine provider, has long since become more. The burgeoning company now owns YouTube and the Android operating system.

Getting an internship at Google isn’t easy — the company reportedly gets 40,000 applications for 1,500 slots each year. Interns are called Nooglers, short for new Googlers.

Snagging a regular job also is tough. In the past year, the company received nearly 1.3 million applications for 15,317 openings — or nearly 85 for each opening, according to Great Rated!, a job-seeker web site produced by the Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco.

UNC’s e-minor program is unique because it’s targeted to students in the arts and sciences. Students may choose one of five tracks to focus on: commercial, social, scientific, sports and artistic.

Buck Goldstein, University Entrepreneur in Residence, says the women’s diverse roles at Google are “a tribute to great students,” but noted that all had assembled impressive resumes while undergraduates by taking part in programs, conferences or initiatives that made them attractive to Google.

Read more from the College of Arts and Sciences magazine article by Pamela Babcock.

March 24, 2014.