6 Life Lessons I Learned During Spring Break At Google

6 Life Lessons I Learned During Spring Break At Google

How a day in Silicon Valley changed my perspective.

When you say, "spring break," most college students probably think martinis and tiny weeny bikinis, but my spring break was nothing like that. I had the great fortune of spending a day at Google in Mountain View, CA as a University Innovation Fellow (UIF). My break included spending time with some of the brightest and driven individuals in the country. There, we had a fantastic, inspiring and enlightening time led by University Innovation staff and fellows, in partnership with Google employees. There were so many great ideas presented and I wish I could share them all, but here are six things that applied directly to my experience as a college student.

1. Think, Act, Do Intentionally

Walking into Google, I had no idea what to expect, except for that I'd be blown away. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. At Google, we were asked to step outside of our comfort zones and do a variety of tasks that required us to work with people that many of us had never met before. We were asked to brainstorm great, and sometimes life-changing, ideas in just a matter of minutes. We did not have time to do things without purpose. As a result, anything we thought or did needed to be intentional. In terms of life, think about things you do regularly and question them. Ask yourself do these things matter and/or what purpose do they serve?

2. "Yes, and" Not "Yes, but"

Another thing I found is that Google is very much focused on offering solutions, not just criticism. We were challenged to try the same experiment one of two ways. The first was to shoot down the ideas of the idea generator with reasons why something wouldn't work. This was the “yes, but” mindset. The second was the “yes, and” mindset, which encouraged us to cooperate and build ideas up as opposed to tearing them down. This mindset encouraged us to say things like, “we can do this AND make it better by….” The practical take away in this is that it's harder to build something up than tear it down, but only one of these ways leaves anyone truly satisfied.

3. Follow Your Curiosity

Google has done something not many large companies have. They have mastered the start-up culture. To me, the start-up culture is one that encourages employees to take risks and be innovative, not just for profit, but for survival. Innovation is so intertwined with the culture at Google that it was practically oozing off of the sticky notes on the whiteboard tables. The key I found in this tip is that it's ok to be curious. Without curiosity, there are no questions. Without questions, there are no answers. It's ok to find inspiration in science fiction novels and to dream about things some people can’t quite imagine yet.

4. Take Your Well-being Seriously

From what I saw during my limited time at Google, as a company, they take wellbeing extremely seriously. As part of our day, we had a member of the mindfulness team come lead us in a mindfulness exercise. If Google is willing to invest money in the wellbeing (physical, mental and emotional) of their employees, you can assume that it's pretty important. Quality work starts with you. To be a better you, you need to make a better you. Be conscious, be purposeful, and above all, take your wellbeing seriously.

5. Be Flexible

One of the most provoking exercises for me was also one of the most simple. It was something we all know: Rock, Paper, Scissors. But there was a twist. Three-hundred students in a room played and they set out to find a single champion. They knew there'd be losers, and that was part of the twist. If you lost, you become the biggest fan of the person who won. It ended up becoming the most intense games of Rock, Paper, Scissors that I've ever experienced. But what was really cool was that even though the majority of us lost, we were eager to cheer for those who beat us. We wanted them to win. The life lesson there is to be flexible. Realize that your idea might not always be the winning idea but if you cheer for the person who does win, you win. And if you're lucky, you win big!

6. Don't Be Afraid to Fail Quickly (and Often)

The last thing I got from Google is to not let a fear of failure control you. Be motivated by the idea that you might fail, and as a result, you’ll receive a unique opportunity to learn from it. Don’t be discouraged or fearfully cautious. Be driven by dreams and not fears. Go out and do the right thing!

Cover Image Credit: DJ Jeffries

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Elisabeth Carell, Choose UMich Because You KNOW We’re The Best Big 10

We are a community that sticks with you forever, an amazing network that’ll take you above and beyond.

After stopping at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the bathroom and some food, the Carell’s arrived at the University of Michigan for a real tour of an *actual* school.

Multiple students spotted Elisabeth’s parents, Steve and Nancy Carell throughout the day. They were kind enough to stop and take pictures with them, and when one student called out “Michael!” Steve turned around and laughed with the 20-year-old. As amazing as it was to have these two on our campus, that isn’t the point of this article.

Dear Elisabeth Carell,

We hope you enjoyed visiting the one and only University of Michigan. This school is one of a kind; wear a Michigan hat or shirt around any town in the United States and you are bound to get “Go Blue!” yelled to you throughout the day. We are a community that sticks with you forever, an amazing network that’ll take you above and beyond.

1. Game days are no competition

From being woken up at 7 a.m. to getting ready, to the euphoric tailgates to WINNING, nothing beats a Michigan game day. Nothing. Being in the Big House thousands decked out in Maize and Blue is incomparable, you will never feel more a part of something than you do when you are all cheering for our football team in that stadium. And trust me, you want to go to a school where they actually win their games.

Anyone that goes to the school can go on and on about all the traditions we have at this school.

2. At some point during your time here, you will most definitely paint the rock

What’s on the rock changes each day, sometimes even multiple times a day.

3. We have a giant Spinning cube

The Cube” as most people call it, brings good luck. Students and alumni are known to spin it when they walk by.

4. The traditions start as soon as you become a wolverine

During orientation we walk through the fountain towards the diag, symbolizing the beginning of us as a Wolverine. Then on graduation day, the students walk through the fountain again towards the graduate school, symbolizing their bright futures.

5. Kissing under the West Engineering Arch

It is known that if you kiss someone at midnight under the Arch before you’re 21, then this is the one you will marry.


I swear this is real, in the middle of the diag lays a brass M, if you step on it you will fail your first blue book exam. The only way to reverse this is to run to the Natural History Museum from the M, kiss the two stone pumas and run back between the first and last stroke of midnight –naked.

7. Our campus is beautiful

You can always count on something going on in the diag and people laying in hammocks or walking on tightropes tied between trees. The Arb, the buildings, the views, it’s all exactly what you could want for a college campus.

8. State Street

There are tons of “state streets” across the country, but nothing quite compares to this one. There is art and culture everywhere you look, amazing clothing stores and of course this gorgeous street brings me to…food.

9. Food

From Frita Batidos to Fred’s to Zingerman’s, the list goes on and on.


11. The education

Our clubs and activities are endless. There is a place for everyone and so much opportunity. The faculty care, they want to see you succeed. I have heard many stories where faculty have introduced a job or an internship to a student that skyrocketed their career. With all the classes and majors you could want, Michigan specializes in anything and anyone with passion. That’s what makes us so great.

This is where the best memories and friendships happen, I promise. College can be hard, but lucky as a student at one of the best universities I’ve fallen in love with this place faster than I’d ever think. You go in and faster than you would imagine you are able to find connection unlike any other. This is where it's at.

Come here to have the best college experience you could ever ask for.


The entire UofM student body

Cover Image Credit: Sarah Richman

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When You Work A Job In College, You Earn Things Mom And Dad's Money Can't Buy

The appreciation I have gained is something that cannot be bought, it was earned by hard work and dedication.

As my first year of college approached, I pleaded with my parents not to make me work during my first semester. I selfishly just wanted to have as much free time as possible to hang out with my friends, go out to frat parties, and sleep the whole next day. The last thing I wanted was to have a job to worry about, I just wanted to live off of my parents' dime.

I also thought it would have been nice to have school and extracurriculars as my only responsibility, but my parents refused to let me not have a job. They were both extremely hard workers for all of their life and saw no reason I could not handle both work and school.

So, against my wishes, I went out and got myself a hostessing job at a local restaurant. I had no idea the lessons and skills I would gain from this job that I dreaded on applying for initially.

1. Time Management

One of the things I value most about simultaneously being a student and having a job is learning how to manage my time. Prior to being a working student, I was extremely lazy when it came to doing assignments and projects, I would put them off until the very last possible moment. Once I started working, I had no time to waste, I was forced to get my life together and prioritize my responsibilities. So instead of spending my free time laying around and watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I was finishing my assignments before I had to go to work because I knew I had no other choice. I learned how to balance my responsibilities while still making time for myself.

2. Maturity

I learned that you cannot rely on your parents financially forever and that it is crucial to learn how to support yourself. I know my parents wanted to teach me that the real world is hard and they wanted to prepare me for it as best as they could. They did not want to shelter and enable me because they realized that it would only hinder me in the long run. My job itself taught me how to take responsibility for my actions, be on time, and to be professional. This all around gave me a more mature outlook on life and strengthened me as a person in several areas.

3. Perseverance

Being a working student is not easy and often makes it really hard to keep going when you are tired, sick, or just feeling worn out. Balancing both work and school can be extremely overwhelming and just make you want to give up at times, but you learn how to persevere because you care about your future. I had coworkers, teachers, and friends/family supporting me through every obstacle that was placed in my path and helped me get closer to achieving my goals. I knew the consequences of missing work, skipping class, and being lazy so I chose to persevere even when times were tough.

4. The Value of Money

When your parents support you financially, you never realize how much things cost. You probably never thought twice about swiping your parents' credit card for a $5 coffee or a $20 meal, but once it's your own money you start to think twice about splurging on unnecessary items. I began to realize how much things like groceries and gas cost and started to manage my money accordingly.

I also learned that money just doesn’t grow on trees and that there is a lot of hard work required in earning money. I would never have realized the true value of a dollar if my parents didn't make me get a job in college.

5. Appreciation

By having a job in college, I gained such an appreciation for things that I would have previously taken for granted. I have learned what it means to work for things and truly deserve everything that I have worked for. The appreciation I have gained is something that cannot be bought, it was earned by hard work and dedication.

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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