Interview with Jennifer Lin by Vivian Zhou

Jennifer Lin

This 2015 interview with Jennifer Lin, a software engineer at Google was done by high school student Vivian Zhou.

As a high school student who aspires to become an woman engineer, when I heard about Jennifer Lin, a software engineer at Google, I couldn’t wait to interview her and find how she got where she is now. Jennifer Lin is a senior director of engineering at Google. She holds a Masters in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

Hi Ms. Lin. Thank you for agreeing to meet with me to discuss how other girls my age can become engineers. . Can you tell me how you become interested in engineering, where you attended college, and what degrees you earned?

I took AP Computer Science A and AB in high school and loved it. It was a magical experience to see the code I wrote do computations, or turn into a fun math game. That’s why I chose to study CS in college. I graduated from MIT with a B.S. and Masters in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

What do you do at Google?

I am a Technical Lead Manager for Google Search. I work on App Indexing. Google indexes apps just like it does websites, so Search results can direct people to the right content within a mobile app. For example, if you search for “Florida vacation package” on Google and you have TripAdvisor app installed on your Android phone, when you click on the “Cheap Florida Vacations & Packages TripAdvisor” link (see screenshot), you’ll land on the Florida vacation packages content in the TripAdvisor app.

Prior to my current project, I was the Technical Lead Manager for the Google+ Platform, providing Google+ Sign-In to third-party apps and websites, and before that, I was a Software Engineer on Google Mobile Ads, launching AdSense for mobile.

What project are you most proud of, or has been your favorite?

Google+ Sign-In lets people sign in with their Google account on other websites (e.g. and mobile apps (e.g. the TripAdvisor Android app). This is one of the projects that I’m proud of, because people don’t have to create and remember a username and password for each website or app they use. People can use their Google account to sign in and get a personalized experience. My team and I worked on providing Android, iOS, and web libraries for developers to integrate Google+ Sign-In into their websites and apps.

Can you describe a particular challenge that you have conquered during your engineering career?

When I worked on Mobile Ads at Google, one of the projects I worked on was to build an iOS SDK (Software Development Kit) for third-party developers to show relevant ads in their iOS apps. I didn’t know iOS programming or Objective-C then, so I learned what I needed from online resources and iOS experts within the company to build and launch the SDK and a demo app. I adapted to the project needs and overcame this challenge.

What are your short-term and long-term goals?

My long-term goal is to help improve people’s daily lives through mobile technologies. My short-term goal is to bring relevant content from mobile apps to people through Google Search; in other words, do what Google Search has done for websites, but for apps.

What or who has had the greatest influence on your life choices?

My mom - I learned from her compassion, hard work, and “can do” attitude, which has gotten me where I am today. I also learned from her what the most important things in life are, and to never lose sight of them.

Describe something you do about outside of work: hobbies, or your favorite movies or books

Outside of work, I’ve been furnishing my home and doing gardening. I’ve enjoyed sci-fi and fantasy movies such as Star Trek, Star Wars, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings series.

What advice would you give to girls who want to become engineers?

Keep learning to expand your knowledge. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or bounce ideas off of one another. Think about how you can help others when you’re building something. Find a mentor for career advice. And don’t give up!