Google Software Engineer Eric Salo ’88 Meets Gustavus Students

Posted on December 28th, 2015 by

Eric Salo '88, left, met with computer science students on Dec. 19.

Eric Salo ’88, left, met with computer science students on Dec. 19.

Gustavus Adolphus College alumnus Eric Salo ’88 took time out of his holiday vacation to present to current students on Saturday, Dec. 19 about careers in the technology industry. Amidst the hustle and bustle of final exams, students gathered to talk with Salo about opportunities at Google and his path since graduation.

“Eric’s presentation was great because it gave students real information from someone who interviews candidates at Google,” Director of Career Development Cynthia Favre said.

Salo’s prepared remarks lasted over an hour and included information about the recruiting and interview process at Google as well as his personal experiences working for a variety of technology companies in his 25-year career.

“Keep your cool and remember your basics,” Salo told students. “Ask questions and talk through your process so the interviewer can follow your logic.”

Perhaps the most impactful part of Salo’s visit came after the presentation, when he worked through mock interview problems with three computer science students. The group spent an additional hour solving problems, preparing formulas, and writing code on a whiteboard in the career development office.

“The mock interview showed the level of skill that Google expects from its applicants,” junior computer science major Jacob Johnson said. “It’s helpful to know that employers will be looking for what we as programmers can do and not necessarily what is on our resume. Computer science is an area that is almost exclusively skill-based and this information session clearly demonstrated that.”

Salo, who lives in San Francisco, was in Minnesota visiting friends and relatives for the holidays. When he contacted the career development office to see if it was possible to meet with students during his limited time in the area, Favre jumped at the chance. “I was very pleased that Eric took the initiative to reach out,” she said. “It’s a testament to the College’s strong alumni connections that people like Eric give their time and expertise to help our students.”

After graduating from Gustavus in 1988, Salo completed his master’s in computer science at Stanford University before taking a job at Silicon Graphics. In 1997 he returned to Minnesota, where he worked for Cray Research before accepting a position at eBureau in St. Cloud. After being laid off in 2014, Salo took the advice of friends in the computer science industry and created a LinkedIn profile. He was contacted by Google less than 24 hours later. A month after their first conversation, Salo was offered a position with the tech giant.

“One of the things that attracted me to Google is that they want to make employees happy by letting them work on what they love,” Salo said. Now living back in California, he began at Google as a site reliability engineer before transitioning to work on operating systems using the Linux kernel.

Salo encouraged students to try new things and to learn from their mistakes. “Working at Google is like drinking from a firehose,” he said. “And it’s okay to fail spectacularly if you can fail quickly, learn from it, and move on.”

As he closed the career development session, Salo recommended that Gustavus students to look to the Silicon Valley for computer science careers. “Go where the opportunities are,” he said. “Do what you love and the rest will take care of itself.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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