August 27, 2013 | Matt Kucinski

Every summer, hundreds of Calvin students scatter across the U.S. and around the world, researching, interning and exploring. This summer, some of these students are keeping us informed about their adventures. Next up: junior Thomas Wodarek of Ada, Mich., a computer science major at Calvin College. This summer, Thomas is interning at Google.

Where are you?

I work at the Google office in Seattle, Wash.  Sometimes, depending on the day, I’m also at the Kirkland, Wash. office.

Why are you there?

I’m here because an alum from Calvin connected me with the right people to get this amazing internship.  To answer the alternate version of this question, I’m an IT/engineering intern, here to fix people’s problems and develop software.

What’s your typical day like?

I wake up early to get to the office around 8 a.m. for breakfast with a few of the other interns. From there my day can go one of two ways: either it’s a project day or a Techstop day. Project days find me at my standing desk, developing internal tools for use here at Google. Techstop days find me at the Techstop (our version of helpdesk), where I help users with any problems that may arise. Both are fun in their own ways, project days because I love to dive into problems in search of a solution, and techstop days for, actually, the same reason. The only interruptions to those days are the meals. Not only is the food delicious and free, but the conversations held over said food are wonderfully interesting and thought provoking. After dinner, I usually go home to relax and read, but sometimes I go back to my desk to try to finish that one “little” thing I had wanted to finish earlier and end up staying late into the evening. It’s a lot of fun to do this every day.

What (technically) are you doing?

I am an internal technology intern working to support Googlers, who come up with the most interesting (and sometimes baffling) problems. When I’m not helping Googlers, I am working on internal tools to assist the technicians in doing their jobs.

What (in layperson's terms) are you doing?

I push buttons until the thingy does what you want it to do. Seriously though, I help people fix problems so they can do their jobs, that’s it.

How has Calvin prepared you for this?

Calvin offers so many great resources to learn how to manage computers and develop efficient and helpful software. The professors are able to teach us so much that we can use out in the “real world." The Office of Conferences and Campus Events (OCCE) has also been of great help to me. Working there as a live sound technician really taught me to think on my feet, solving problems quickly and hopefully without anyone noticing that there ever was a problem in the first place. OCCE has also taught me how to communicate effectively with people who are not as technically-minded as I am, as the techs of OCCE do spend a lot of time working with our clients to make sure every event happens as they want it to.

What has surprised you so far?

The massive number of things everyone is working on here. Literally everyone has an interesting project. In the same vein, everyone here genuinely believes that sharing information makes the world better for everyone. You hear that and think that it’s not possible, but it is, I’ve seen it.

How do you see this shaping your future?

I have been working at a global company that is really invested in its employees. This provides me with valuable insights into what I want to do and with whom I want to work. Beyond that, I will be able to stay in contact with the people I meet here. All of this can provide a valuable base in entering the working world.

Best picture you’ve taken?

It would have to be the IT Interns in front of the wall of nerf guns in one of the Google buildings in Mountain View. Alternately, it could be a picture of the same IT Interns in front of the Golden Gate bridge during our day-long bike ride through San Francisco.

What’s gone wrong?

I honestly have no idea how to navigate a large city...  I grew up in Ada, Mich., out in the farmland where you couldn’t see the next house. Now go from that to an apartment building in downtown Seattle. It’s too loud and busy. I’ve adjusted to the city life, but I look forward to the relative quiet of the office, which is more-or-less soundproof to the outside world.

Met anybody memorable?

You mean like everyone? Any number of Software Engineers, Fieldtechs, and other staff? Or should I be a little more specific, like walking past Vic Gundotra (Google Senior VP of Social) one morning? Everyone here, just like at Calvin, is amazing in their own way.

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