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Google recruit is not your typical freshman

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Following in the footsteps of another SCHS grad, Adam Knecht, a UofL freshman, will head to New York City this summer to work with Google, something not many college freshmen get to do.

By Todd Martin

Getting to spend the summer in New York City would be a big draw for most college freshmen, but that won't even be the highlight for Adam Knecht.

Knecht, a Shelby County High School graduate and freshman in the University of Louisville's Speed School, will head to New York to be an intern Corporate Operations Engineer for Google.

"The shock hasn't quite worn off yet," he said. "They typically don't hire freshmen, and then at 18 to make through the interview process..."

While Knecht's achievement is impressive, there is some precedent for it in Shelby County.

"About a month ago, I have a friend Kenny Franks, who also went to the high school [SCHS], and he's been an intern with Google, too," Knecht said.

Franks also beat the odds and was selected as a freshmen intern with the popular Internet search engine company out of Georgia Tech University a few years ago.

"He called and asked me if I wanted to be an intern," Knecht said. "The answer was kind of obvious, I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity like that. But the catch was I had to get my resume to them in, like, one hour."

Shelby County's influence

Knecht must keep a copy of that resume handy, because he got it in and made the interview process. He cited his time at SCHS and a couple extra activities that had him prepared for an opportunity just like this.

"Two major things influenced me," he said. "With TSA, the Technology Student Association, I had two years of being a state officer and two years as a national officer, and that really taught me a lot of the professional skills I need for a job like this - working as a team and leadership.

"And with STLP (Student Technology Leadership Program) I was a state engineer and as a senior the lead engineer. Each year we would set up the network and maintain it for a big conference. That, and getting to work the student help desk at the high school, which they don't have anymore. Those gave me the troubleshooting and problem-solving skills that I needed to go through the interview with Google.

"Those two organizations changed my life because they allowed me to get that hands on experience that I needed."

The interview process

With Google, potential interns don't just hand in a resume and wait for a call.

"It was nerve-racking, really," he said. "It was the most intense interview I've had in my life."

With two technical interviews and then two host interviews, Knecht said they covered several different topics.

"They drill you on technical problems and circumstances you might come in contact with," he said. "They ask you every question you could imagine, and I spent hours studying for it. But what they really want to see is how you think."

Knecht was offered two positions, but chose the position in Manhattan.

"The New York office is their second largest, behind the headquarters in California," he said. "My team, part of a 120-person team across the globe, will provide IT support for the 900-person New York office."

Google's long reach

While Knecht won't be fine-tuning your next web search on Google, his work will be part of it.

"With Google, there are two types of engineers," he said. "There are software engineers that develop the products we use every day [like www.google.com, Gmail and Google maps]. And then there are guys like me that will maintain the networks so all the offices and clients are up and running. Keeping Google working."

And in less than one month, on May 20, Knecht will hit the Big Apple for work.

"I think the thing I'm looking forward to most is the learning experience," he said. "Google is known for hiring all these brilliant people. So when I go in, I'll basically know nothing compared to my colleagues, but when I come back, it'll be like I know double what I did before I left."

And this opportunity can continue.

"Basically, the way this program works is they evaluate you at the end of the summer, and if you do well they'll invite you back," Knecht said.

For instance, Franks is headed out the California office this summer.

"I'm hoping this can continue next summer and maybe I can get to another office next year," Knecht said.

"But, it's going to be pretty nice to spend three months in New York City, too. I've traveled some, but that's one city I haven't been to yet."