Growing with Google in Lansing

On Friday, March 9, Google came to Lansing to help teachers, business owners, students, educators, entrepreneurs, and other interested community members learn how to most effectively utilize all of the techy tools they have to offer. The two-day free event was called “Grow with Google,” and took place at Lansing Community College’s Gannon Building on Friday, March 9 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., (March 10 was strictly for educators only). 

Grow with Google included one-on-one coaching sessions, interactive demonstrations, and 14 workshops that taught varied topics ranging from the online tools available for small businesses, and job search strategies, to email basics, online safety, search engine optimization, and more. The workshops, sessions and demonstrations were all taught by qualified Google staff, one of which was 31-year-old Emily Hanley, a St. Johns native who works for Google as a software engineer. 
“St. Johns was a great school system to grow up in, but I didn’t really get much specialized STEM learning there. It wasn’t as big of a thing at that time,” she says, explaining that it wasn’t until her college years at the University of Michigan that she got her real start in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). She graduated in 2008 with a degree in computer science and engineering.
After multiple internships – including one at Microsoft and one at Google, where she worked on the Google Docs team, was offered a full-time position and has been with Google ever since. 

Now Hanley is married to her high school sweetheart, Michael, and is mother to three girls and two boys. Her personal life and her work life keep her busy, but she’s grateful that work-life balance is a priority for Google and its employees. “The biggest thing is, they want you to get your job done. But our well-being is the most important part of it. They take a lot of care in our well-being as well as making sure [we’re] performing on the job.” 

Hanley says the environment at Google is exactly what one would expect – modern, and trendy – where the fun atmosphere was created with the intention to foster more productivity. Happier employees typically equates to better work being done. 

As an engineer, she does a lot of work in group settings, collaborating with different teams for different projects. “Basically, as an engineer, we take part in the whole development cycle, from design of the system, implementation, team work, collaboration, writing the codes, and then maintaining the codes as well. We are part of the whole software development cycle.”

As a woman and a mother of girls, Hanley says that seeing more encouragement for women to enter STEM classes and fields is exciting. “I think it’s so great that more women are coming into this field. For me, I think that the reason more women weren’t in this field before is because of a lack of opportunity. Companies like Google are providing those opportunities now and I am proud to be a part of a company like that.” 

Hanley acknowledges that her children are still quite young, and so they’re not quite thinking about their career paths yet. But with both her and Michael working in the technology field, her real hope is that they will be able to see technology as a tool to achieve their goals. “I believe, and Google believes as well, that you’re thriving when you’re doing what you are most passionate about. No matter if you are a journalist, an engineer, a teacher, you need to be able to use technology as an aid in whatever industry you are in. That’s how I encourage my kids – technology as a means to an end, not the end itself.” 

Hanley’s passion for teaching others the way she teaches her children is only reiterated in her involvement in events and classes like the Grow with Google event in Lansing, which saw approximately 1,100 attendees. She taught two workshops at the event; one on getting started with code, where she taught her students about what actually goes on behind the applications; and the second was about coding as well, but this time, with kids. “It was really neat to see so many people engaged in code and things like that. It’s pretty incredible the opportunities that Google is offering and allowing people to ultimately become certified in the industry,” says Hanley. 

Grow with Google seemed to be a sampling of more to come from the company in the Greater Lansing area in future. “I think it was a big testament to Google’s vision for Lansing –they think that Lansing is an up-and-coming area. It was a real morale booster for the area, seeing Google, a huge company, making a statement that they will invest their time and resources in that area.” 


Megan Westers is a frequent contributor to Capital Gains.

Photos © Dave Trumpie

Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.

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