Shannon Juzenas, B.Sc. 2013

 

“I learned how to learn at SFU,” recalls Shannon Juzenas who, although double-majoring in Computing Science and English, ultimately followed her tech inclinations when choosing a career. “English just seemed more nebulous,” she adds, noting that she hasn’t looked back since becoming a Google software engineer.

“It’s pretty close to a dream job. There’s a nice diversity of projects and everyone here is really smart – which is slightly intimidating but it also keeps you on your toes and makes you a better engineer,” says Juzenas, who has worked on several Android apps since joining the company in 2013. Current project? The Google Fit health-tracking platform.

But while she now loves discovering solutions that need to work for thousands of users – “That’s the scale of working for Google” – she recalls her early SFU years as a search for her place in the computing science realm. “I didn’t really like anything to do with math, preferring classes like Distributed Systems and Computational Linguistics. Problem-solving rather than algorithms appealed to me.”

She soon began discovering her niche, finding a sense of belonging along the way. “I joined clubs, met more and more people and made many friends in the program,” says Juzenas, who ultimately became president of the Computing Science Student Society and also joined Women in Computing Science, organizing visits by high school girls that encouraged them to consider tech careers.

She also stepped up her own career push, starting with two summer internships at Google’s Mountain View campus in California. The experience proved invaluable in convincing her she’d found the right path. “Interning here definitely helped me. And it also got me into the Google pipeline, which was really useful when it came to applying for a job with the company.”

Since joining the tech giant, Juzenas has been back to SFU several times to help the company recruit interns and also find top-notch prospective employees. “I lot of students think Google is too hard to get into but, whenever I come back, I feel like I’m giving the company and the entire application process a human face.”

And what kind of candidates is Google searching for? “We’re looking for people who are actively doing technological things outside school. Creating apps or sites shows a deeper level of interest,” says Juzenas, adding that she was always tinkering with computers and websites on the side when she was growing up.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, she can now see that problem-solving and discovering solutions were always part of her formative years. It just took a while to find the right outlet for those drives. So where next? “I think I’ll probably stay at Google because there are so many potential things to work on here – and there’s certainly no chance of ever becoming bored.”