Real World Lessons Learned from Google

Imagine an office where you can move from floor to floor by taking a ride down a giant slide. A work environment where client meetings take place in over sized hammocks and spaces are equipped with essential amenities including: nap pods, pool tables, rock climbing walls, fully stocked micro kitchens, a lap pool and gym, and roof-top putting greens to practice your golf game.

This is life at Google.


Michael discussing Google Glass and the self-driving Google car


Michael Westervelt, Account Manager at Google, and Founder of the non-profit Next Step Boston, visited Burlington Public Schools on Tuesday, November 18th. He addressed our high school parents and students as well as our entire eighth grade. He shared what it’s like to work at Google and how students can “get a grip on their digital selves” by taking advantage of 21st century technologies. His overall message to the students (and their parents) of Generation Z?

“Who you are online, for the first time ever, is as important as who you are in real life.”


Michael stressing the importance of creating a positive digital brand

His advice to parents during morning breakfast was to learn the social media tools their children are using (check out the Parent Resource page on our blog for a valuable collection of resources). He encouraged parents to engage in open and honest conversations about the type of digital footprints their sons and daughters may be creating with tools like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. He advised parents to do “spring cleaning” with their children’s social media accounts. In other words, take the time to sit down with their children, take the “Google yourself challenge” and remove negative or inappropriate digital content. And rather than have no digital presence at all, Michael urged parents to help their children use free technology tools including Google+, LinkedIn, and Blogger to create a digital brand that would impress a college admissions representative or future employer. It’s now common practice for employers to Google search applicants, and it’s important students learn at a young age how to represent themselves in our digital world in a positive way. His message to the high school students was similar.IMG_4209

“If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, you are selling yourself short. Right now, there is a company looking for you.” He emphasized that the most important part of social networking is the networking piece. He discussed with students the importance of “living a life worth blogging about” and that FOMO (fear of missing out) and the need to be constantly checking one’s Smartphone, is actually preventing students from making meaningful connections with people in the real world. “Cut yourself away from technology every once in a while. You only get real world experience by being in the real world.” Once students gain that experience, they can begin differentiating themselves by creating their very first digital resume.

Michael addressing BHS students about their digital footprints

Michael addressing BHS students about their digital footprints

Michael urged both the high school and the eighth graders to engage in volunteer work and to “start something. Build something.” He shared his own experience as the founder of Next Step Boston; a non-profit committed to helping people find meaningful employment. Additionally, Michael explained his responsibilities as an Account Manager and how he spends his time at the Google office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Both the high school and the eighth graders were incredibly captivated and excited to hear about life at Google. It was clear based on their level of engagement, interaction with Michael, and the number of questions students had (there were at least 40 middle school students with questions!), that his message about digital footprints and life at Google was heard loud and clear.


Eighth graders listening to Michael talk about life at Google

On behalf of the Burlington Public Schools Edtech Team, I’d like thank Michael for taking the time out of his hectic schedule to spend the day in our district educating and inspiring our parents and students. As his former business teacher, I’m proud to see how successful he has become in his career as a Googler, but even more so that he is committed to giving back to the community and shared his expertise with the stakeholders of our school community.

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