Pam Dudding-Burch Contributing writer
STORY ORIGINALLY RAN IN THE 2.17.16 EDITION OF THE NEW CASTLE RECORD:
Kacey Price has never been afraid of the unknown. That curiosity led her to apply for an internship with Google, and her diligence paid off, as she recently discovered she was accepted for the opportunity. “I’ve always had an interest in math and science in general,” Price said, adding that her Roanoke Valley Governor’s School (RVGS) teacher, Dr. Linda Gooding, pushed her to another level.
Price said while in Gooding’s mathematical modeling class, she learned how to code in Mathematica as well as create simulations in STELLA. She also attended Mathematica Camp in Boston with 35 other students from around the world.
Last year, as a senior at Craig County and a Governor’s School student, Price took first place in the mathematics and computer science category at the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School science fair. Price won $50 from a Navy sponsored stem award, $200 from an Intel award, and took home the grand prize of placing first in the entire competition, not just her category.
Next, Price attended the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair competition in Pittsburgh. Only 1,700 students out of 7 million students from 75 countries were invited. The students competed for $4 million in prizes. There, Price and her team of five others took fourth place for their project, entitled “Prognostic and Diagnostic Measure for Circuit Disruption in Alzheimer’s Disease.”
While at Governor’s School, Price was encouraged to use the mentors available there. This is when she said she sent in a resume to Virginia Tech, as well as met with several of the school’s professors and officials. Price, though appreciative of Virginia Tech, decided majoring in computer science at the University of Virginia would better help her achieve her long-term goals.
“I’ve been focusing on learning new programming languages, making little video games and what not,” Price said. Price said she was taking an introduction to programming class when she first discovered the Google internship opportunity.
“Deep within the forums in the class’s online page, there was a post about the Engineering Practicum Internship for Google,” she said. “I figured it would be a good learning experience, so I took the first step.” She sent in her resume and two essays to apply. “One was on my personal connection with computer sciences and one on the importance of diversity of the workplace,” she said.
She said that Google works hard to maintain diversity, and they frequently strive to recruit the underrepresented. “Being a female in this particular male-dominated field is difficult as it is, but being a computer scientist from a small town likely sparked their interest as well,” Price added. “I’m proud of where I’m from, and felt that my experiences of living on a farm could be beneficial to the big world of technology, which people don’t often think about.”
Price received a letter of interest and was linked with a recruiter before entering a period of “suspenseful waiting.” Next, interview times were scheduled, and she was given a list of topics. “Let me add, this list of topics was huge, and terrifying,” Price said. “I didn’t know what most of the things on the list even said, never mind code any of it. At this point, I had accepted my doom.”
However, she quickly turned things around, and did all she could to prepare, which included hours upon hours of studying. “I was a first year teaching myself classes of material in a matter of weeks, and I have to say, it was often exhausting and discouraging,” she said.
After two 45-minute phone interviews, another waiting period begun. After two weeks, she received an email explaining she had moved on to the last stage of the process.
“To be moved to the hiring committee, the interview feedback had to be good enough for me to be a potential intern,” Price said. “Of course, at this point, I was so excited, and couldn’t believe I made it this far.” She waited another three weeks for the results, but again, her persistence paid off. “I didn’t believe the recruiter at first when he said Google was giving me an offer to work as a full-time intern this summer,” Price said.
Price is already planning her summer project, and was told she would have many phone interviews with Google mentors who will want her on their team. She immediately had interviews with teams from Seattle and Los Angeles.
“The project I ended up working on would determine what part in our country I will be working,” Price said. Within days, she landed a job in Los Angeles, only two blocks from the beach. Google provides a list of apartments nearby, and will help with relocation costs. “I’ll be working with Google’s virtual reality team,” Price said. “It’s exactly the team I wanted, where I am able to combine my love for science and art in one.”