On Tuesday evening, James Bankoski, a Binghamton University alumnus and an engineering manager at Google, spoke to students about his career path.
The talk, given in the Jay S. and Jeanne Benet Alumni Lounge in the Alumni Center, was a part of “Google Week,” a recruiting project collaborated by the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development and the Alumni Engagement office.
Bankoski graduated from BU in 1991 with a degree in computer science, and has since returned to the University many times for alumni events. While studying at BU, he worked at a pizzeria in Old University Union and at a McDonald’s to fund his tuition. He also interned at IBM in Endicott and in Owego throughout college, where he worked under Dick Steflik, who is now a professor in the computer science department.
After graduating, Bankoski went on to earn a master’s degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He went on to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science, but dropped out to work for On2 Technologies, formerly known as The Duck Corporation, a startup that created technology for formatting online videos.
“I could have very easily have been a database programmer and ended that way, and I really didn’t like it,” Bankoski said. “I liked coding, but I really didn’t like the kind of work. I think everybody should strive for that, and good things will happen when you’re doing something you love.”
In 2008, Google contacted Bankoski about a royalty-free video code he had created, which is a program that allows videos to be shown on websites without owing royalty fees to the creator of the video. Now owned by Google, the technology is used heavily by YouTube. In 2010, he was offered a full-time position at Google and moved from the Hudson Valley to the Silicon Valley.
Today, Bankowski writes code for Google as well as manages a large group of engineers. He has also taken positions on more than 200 hiring committees, teaches courses and is one of the faculty research reviewers for the company. He is also in charge of the interns at Google Chrome, for which he approves all projects.
According to Tanner Hoelzel, a sophomore double-majoring in computer science and mathematics, Bankoski is a role model to many computer sciences students.
“Something that [Bankoski] kind of lived or demonstrated is … that being great to other people can really serve you well in the long run,” Hoelzel said.
Paul Deamer, employer and alumni outreach consultant at the Fleishman Center, said that he wants students who are looking to begin their careers after graduation to understand that you have to do a few things before reaching your dream position, just as Bankoski did.
“Not every alum has a direct path to their career, and these days it’s more frequent for alums, upon graduation, to have a few positions before they get to that ultimate place where they want to be,” Deamer said. “That is sort of what we want the students to take away from [this event]. You may not get that dream job upon graduation, you may have to do a few things before that.”