Approximately 80 Binghamton University students attended the Google Code Jam Kickstart competition in the University Union in hopes of gaining an edge as job applicants to Google.
Google hosted its annual coding competition on Thursday evening as part of a four-day Google recruitment visit coordinated by the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. BU alumni and Google employees Michael Head, ‘09 and Jim Bankoski, ‘90, helped coordinate it in an effort to reach out to students looking to pursue a career at Google.
The competition, a smaller-scale version of the international Code Jam, invited students from the Watson School to come solo or in teams of up to four people to strengthen their coding skills and compete for prizes.
Students were asked to solve two coding problems in the space of an hour. The first one involved a smaller data set allowing multiple attempts, and the second involved a larger set with only one attempt. The puzzles were intended to simulate some of the questions prospective employees may face in a Google interview.
As the students worked against the clock to solve the problems, Head and Bankoski walked around the room assessing the students’ progress.
Head, a senior software engineer at Google who has worked at the company since 2011, received both his bachelor’s degrees in math and computer science and a doctorate in computer science from BU. Bankoski, who also received his bachelor’s in computer science at BU, has been working as an engineer at Google since 2010.
Bankoski said the event was meant to provide students with coding practice that might help them in a job interview, which the University might not typically offer.
“A lot of different universities don’t do interview coding practice like we do at Google,” Bankoski said. “This is sort of to get people in the mindset so they can actually practice doing interviews of the sort that you might see at Google or Facebook or LinkedIn.”
Jordan Levin, a junior majoring in computer science, was part of the team, “Memorization Boys,” which won the coding competition. Levin is also a part of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) at BU.
“I thought [the event] sounded like fun, and I’m involved with ACM, so I can’t do ACM program competitions,” Levin said. “I figured I would come to this one since I’m able to participate, and I like solving programming problems.”
According to Lindsey Sikorski, director of Watson Career & Alumni Connections, the marketing aspect of the event was a primary concern.
“Our biggest thing was marketing it to make sure that our students knew about the events and that they could sign up, and that went pretty well,” Sikorski said.
The visit also offered other events, including a presentation on following a technology career at Google and a discussion on Google engineering roles for non-computer science majors.