Google Ambassador, Spark SC Co-Founder, CSBA Junior Adena Bauer (photo courtesy of Adena Bauer)
Adena Bauer never thought she would major in engineering; she came to USC from the Bay Area to study business. She spent her first semester at USC as a business major, but then realized she was looking for something more. She found it in the USC Viterbi Department of Computer Science’s computer science and business administration (CSBA) program, where she now pursues her bachelor’s degree as a junior. Students who meet the admissions requirements of both USC Viterbi and the USC Marshall School of Business are able to pursue a degree in this joint area.
“My dad used to be a software engineer, but I never had any desire to get into it myself,” Bauer said. If you’ve ever been in a car accident and have taken a photo of the damage and uploaded to your insurance agent’s app, Bauer’s parents are responsible for the creation of that technology with their company Snapsheet, her dad is the Chief of Operations and her mom is the head of HR. With no desire to get into software before, she says her dad in particular “was proud when I chose to switch from business to the CSBA program.”
This year, Bauer became USC’s sole Google ambassador, helping students who will be interning or going to work for Google get acclimated to the Google environments. Traditionally, Google has had two student reps; one focused on technology talent, the other on business operations. Bauer knew the technology representative who put in a good word for her when her time was coming to a close. The recommendation worked, and with her experience in both technology and business through the CSBA program, Google hired her as the sole ambassador.
If a student is hired to work at Google; either as an intern or full time employee; Bauer is one of the first people they will see. As the unofficial gateway to Google, she helps students get acclimated to the Google culture and prepare them to work for the Internet company. Google is often seen as a dream employer and extremely hard to get into. If Google seems like an unreachable goal, Bauer offers hope that it is not as unattainable as it may seem.
Her best advice to students who want to work for Google, she said “is not to let the idea that Google is ‘too hard to get in to’ get in the way of applying.” Google looks for people who are “Googley” — driven, smart, friendly and love a challenge. “Everyone has a shot,” Bauer said, “so work hard, seek out opportunities and give it your all”.
Before working as an ambassador, Bauer was able to attend Google’s annual summit in the summer of 2015 in which all 50 ambassadors were flown to the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. There, she not only learned about how to represent Google, its opportunities, values, and culture but also had the opportunity to hear talks from a variety of influential Googlers about current Google initiatives.
The intersection of computer science and business has been an exciting one for Bauer. In 2013, she co-founded Spark SC, a council of student organizations who meet to socialize, network, and collaborate on their entrepreneurial projects, building a community of innovative student groups. Spark SC’s mission is to build an innovative culture where students can tap into their creativity and connect across communities.
Adena at Google Headquarters (Photo coutesy Adena Bauer)
The groups in Spark SC consist of engineering students, business students, and communications students, among others. Students are members of groups including: Lavalab, in which students brainstorm and produce ideas for inventions; Corpus Callosum, which joins artists and engineers together through group competition and workshops; Design for America, where students apply design thinking to local community issues; and 3D4E, a 3D printing group.
In line with their mission of fostering a culture of innovation, Spark SC recently created the "1,000 pitches competition. Sponsored by Blackstone Launchpad, the Iovine and Young Academy and other corporate sponsors, the competition was open to students in the fall of 2015 where the top 10 pitches would win $1,000. Bauer says the mission of this project was to “prove that anyone can have an idea.”
Bauer is most proud of the startup career fairs founded and run by Spark SC. They aren’t strictly geared to engineering students and encourage the hiring of local USC students to local L.A. startups. In a field that sees much of its talent leave USC and go to the Bay Area, Bauer says proudly: “At the last fair, 40 USC students were hired at local L.A. startups.”
Her work in CSBA has opened many doors for her future — after considering summer internship offers from OpenTable, Microsoft, and Adobe, Bauer will spend this summer as an intern with OpenTable in iOS engineering.