We’ve all wondered, is it true what they say about Google’s employee perks?
“Yes, it’s all true,” laughs Jamie Dear. “Everything you’ve ever read about the amazing perks at Google is true.” Jamie is a IT Resident at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. He’s also an alumnus of a UW Flexible Option program. In 2016, at age 26, Jamie graduated from UW-Milwaukee with his Bachelor of Science in Information Science and Technology by completing the degree in the self-paced online UW Flexible Option format.
After finishing his degree, he started a new job with Google’s renowned IT Residency Program three months later. The two-year program opens up a world of career opportunities, both in Silicon Valley and beyond. Because of the program’s reputation for building solid IT fundamentals, IT Residents advance to positions at Google—or at other technology companies—in roles such as networking, security, site reliability engineering, system administration and support. Learn more about the IT Residency Program through Google’s YouTube livestreaming project featuring Jamie Dear.
The job posting for a IT Resident position lists preferred qualifications as “a BA/BS degree in the following majors: Information Systems, Information Technology, Applied Networking, System Administration, or other degrees with applicable experience.”
Jamie credits his bachelor’s degree for his ability to qualify. UW Flexible Option is an online, competency-based model that enables adult students like Jamie to leverage existing knowledge—whether it was learned in the military, prior coursework, or a job—to graduate sooner. Students start when they want, advance at their own pace, and test when they’re ready.
“I earned 49 credits in nine months with a GPA of 3.8,” says Jamie. “Some courses contained material I had never covered before. In other courses, I knew the content, so I moved quickly through that material. It was hard, but the time flew by!”
Jamie’s Path to an IT Bachelor’s Degree
This much academic flexibility might seem foreign to those familiar with a traditional campus setting. But, not to Jamie. He was homeschooled by his mom, who is a teacher by training.
“My mom let us move ahead when we felt ready, but she was also very strict about tests and homework assignments,” recalls Jamie. “It was great training for my UW Flexible Option experience.”
By the time he graduated high school, Jamie had earned both a high school diploma and an Associate of Computer Systems Technology online through the local community college.
Unsure of what he wanted next, Jamie decided to study aviation instead of computer science. He worked toward a Bachelor of Aviation Flight Technology at Eastern Michigan University. And while he still flies today, he discontinued his studies, deciding aviation wasn’t the career he wanted to pursue.
He spent the next four years working in a variety of jobs. He married and moved around the country, finally settling in Wisconsin. Here, he found a passion for technical support while working remotely for Apple. Jamie learned to troubleshoot customer issues by phone, piloted a new iTunes Account Security Queue, collaborated with site support engineers and trained coworkers.
Eventually, he and his wife moved to Seattle, Wash., home to top software and technology companies including Microsoft, Amazon, and Nintendo. Seattle is a highly competitive IT environment.
“I really enjoyed working in IT but knew I would need a bachelor’s degree in IT to have any sort of mobility. My wife and I wanted to start a family, and we didn’t think we could afford the cost of living in Seattle, as much as we loved it. So I looked into online degrees that would give my family the future we wanted.”
The University of Wisconsin Flexible Option appealed to Jamie because the flexible format put him in the “pilot’s seat“.
“Knowing that I could take an assessment as soon as I felt ready, not according to a semester schedule, was a huge factor in my decision to enroll,” says Jamie.
“I knew I had a lot of IT skills and could pass several competencies in one three-month subscription period. The flexibility of the program was incredible. I was working full time; my daughter was just a few months old. I would come home, eat dinner with the family, play with our daughter, and then do two or three hours of schoolwork every night. ”
“I’m a huge advocate for the UW Flexible Option. It’s a great solution in so many ways for those who need more education to advance in their careers. I just can’t say enough good things about it.”
Get a UW Flexible Option Degree Guide
Download an introductory guide (PDF) to the self-paced, competency-based UW Flexible Option programs, including details about costs, admission requirements, and more.
Life as a Google IT Resident
So just how does one land a job at “the world’s best search engine?”
“The interview process was rigorous but there were no riddles or anything like you hear about in the mythology of Google,” Jamie smiles.
What did the interview committee at Google think of Jamie’s UW Flexible Option degree?
“They must have looked at my transcript and wondered how I completed 49 credits in nine months! They never asked a question about it. Everyone recognizes the University of Wisconsin name and what it stands for.”
As a Google field tech, Jamie supports employee IT needs. Behind the search engine you use everyday is a vast infrastructure including 60,000 employees worldwide who must remain productive around the clock. “Anytime there’s broken technology, or something preventing them from getting their jobs done, I’m there to help.”
Google believes that a successful IT career has its foundation in user support. As part of Jamie’s residency at Google, he will spend three months in a Google office somewhere around the globe, gaining exposure to different parts of Google and each location’s distinct set of technical challenges. Once he is well-versed in key Google technologies, he will have the opportunity to seek out innovative projects that have a visible impact on the company.
Which of Google’s famous perks is Jamie’s favorite?
“The food. I never worry about breakfast or lunch because I get it here–it’s free! Google also offers healthy snacks, fitness programs, coffee, massages, laundry services and haircuts, but food is definitely the number one perk. I get to spend my lunch hour with other Googlers. It’s an incredible experience, one I won’t get anywhere else.”