Google opens its doors to five Behind Every Kick programme graduates

February 15, 2024

Hey Google, what's it like to work at Google?!

"Amazing" was the consensus view of the five Behind Every Kick programme graduates who spent a day exploring the fantastical Kings Cross headquarters of the tech behemoth and chatting with members of staff (or Googlers as they call themselves).

As you might imagine, Google isn't like any old workplace. As you travel up the gleaming glass lift, murals of Pikachu and Super Mario are among the many iconic characters from the digital world who adorn the walls. It's a pretty effective signal to your brain that fun stuff happens in this place!

After shooting up to the top-floor restaurant for refreshments, the young people were taken to an area where all the rooms are named after David Bowie (ask your parents if you don't know who he is or stick his name into Spotify, all killer no filler).

Jonny Keogh, Sports Lead for YouTube in the UK and Ireland, popped in to share his story and top career tips. Jonny explained he had gone to university to train as a PE teacher. However, part way into his course, he realised it wasn't what he wanted to do. Jonny didn't panic and was determined to keep "growing his bubble" by seeking out new people to talk to and experiences. Jonny trained as a football referee and lifeguard during his student days, recognising that anything he could add to his CV would help him to stand out when searching for job opportunities. He answered a Gumtree post from a Sunday League team short of players. Then, a chance conversation with the team's manager - who happened to be a producer at Sky Sports - resulted in Jonny getting some work experience. Maybe 'chance conversation' is the wrong turn of phrase. By talking to people and explaining his passion, Jonny made this happen - what's that old saying, 'the harder you try, the luckier you get. "Or, as Jonny put it, nothing is given to you. You've got to create chances for yourself."

Jonny's enthusiasm and tea-making skills were rewarded when he was offered an entry-level job at Sky. One night, while working on a shift covering Formula 1, with all his tasks completed, Jonny found himself near an editing machine. At 3am, just for fun, he decided to see if he could cut the race down into a highlights package. Pleased with the results of this first attempt, Jonny began teaching himself how to edit video. Eventually, he mentioned his newfound skill to his manager at Sky. Jonny was soon climbing the ladder there as a video editor. A good few years later - having honed his craft - a colleague tipped Jonny off about an opening at YouTube. Spoiler alert, he got the job!

Having heard how far Jonny's journey had taken him - and received some nice YouTube-branded merch - it was time for the young people to grab lunch. The restaurant at Google is something to behold. One of the perks of being a Googler is you eat for free. The dedicated team of chefs cater for all tastes and dietary requirements. The joke goes that everyone puts on a few pounds when they start working for Google!

After lunch, the young people headed up to the top floor balcony, where they were treated to a staggering panoramic view of London. Chef Dan then took everyone back inside for a tour of his kitchen. As well as the free meals, Googlers can attend complimentary classes to learn about healthy diet, food preparation and well-being. Dan shared his career story with the young people. Having trained as a chef, he'd worked his way up at Jamie Oliver's teaching restaurant. Google approached Jamie Oliver's restaurant to deliver classes to Google staff. And Dan was the man chosen for the gig. When Google decided to set up a permanent teaching kitchen for their staff, Dan was headhunted for the role, or to steal his cuisine-themed pun, poached!  

With his story shared, it was time for Chef Dan to put the young people to work decorating biscuits. While they got busy with multicoloured icing, edible ink, Haribo and sprinkles, Googlers Luke and Jack shared their career paths. Luke explained how valuable a gap year had been for him in his journey. He travelled to Asia and experienced a whole new culture. He'd started his career in accountancy but then decided to change paths, which required him to build a network that could help get him to where he is now, working as a Customer Engineer. One of his top tips was to send an accompanying message to anyone you want to connect with on LinkedIn explaining why you're interested in them. Jack spoke very openly about the challenges he had to overcome as a young adult and how out of place he'd felt when he first entered a corporate environment. But by working hard, asking for help and mentoring, being resilient and finding the confidence to share an idea with his new manager - that working more closely with football clubs had great potential for Google - he's been able to carve out a job he's passionate about.    

All that was left to do to round off a brilliant day was for Luke to judge which of the young people's biscuits won first and second place. Given he's a Manchester United fan and works for Google, his choice of star baker Harmony's Google-branded cookie and John's MUFC badge biscuit surprised absolutely no one.