Mike Helmick: Saying Yes to Google

Mike Helmick had been working for about two years at Amazon, his first job after graduating from Xavier, when he got a call one day at work. It was a recruiter from Google.

“She asked if I wanted to come in,” he says. “You always say yes when you get that call.”

 The things I learned at Xavier covered a broad base of computer science, including the ability to learn new things on my own.

Helmick said "yes" to Google, the computer industry company that’s so well-known, its name is also a verb. It helped that he had a master’s and PhD in computer science, but Helmick says Xavier’s Computer Science program equipped him with the knowledge to succeed, even better than his peers.

“I felt very well prepared and ahead of others in the workplace,” Helmick says. “The things I learned at Xavier covered a broad base of computer science, including the ability to learn new things on my own. This is a field that changes.”

Helmick now works at Google’s Seattle office, where he is a senior software engineer and the technical lead and manager for Google App Engine.

“All the computer science professors at Xavier were extremely helpful in different ways,” he says. “Gary Lewandowski was on both my master’s and PhD committees, so he continued to work with me after I graduated. It’s what I saw in all the professors—they’re real supportive of the students. I felt that everyone at Xavier wanted me to be successful.”

He graduated in 2000 and by 2007, with a master’s and a PhD, was hired by Amazon Web Services where he worked on cloud technology for two and a half years. The first time Google called was June of 2010. He worked on infrastructure for all of Google’s social products including Google Plus, Gmail, Google Docs and Google Contacts. After a short stint teaching, he returned to Google two years ago.

 I felt that everyone at Xavier wanted me to be successful.

Helmick likes working at Google so much, he thinks he’ll stay awhile. It doesn’t hurt that everything people say about the company is true.

Google makes everything easy, he says: free lunches, interesting work spaces, on-site game rooms, free coffee bars. “So if you need to think about a problem, you can go play video games for awhile or grab a latté. There’s room to be creative or to step away and relax if that’s want you need. Any perk you need.”

Helmick has three computers on his desk—a Google Chromebook, a Pixel C tablet and a Linux workstation.

And he still gets calls from recruiters. “The state of the software industry is such that I get recruiting calls and emails several times a week because there’s not enough qualified people.”

So far, he's only said "yes" to Google.