Class of 2015 Success Stories: Google Grad
VCT graduate moves into dream job
By Julie Carle
Ever curious about the digital world, Rita DeRaedt discovered the fun of playing with computer programs at a young age. By 14 she owned her own copy of Photoshop and by 15, after teaching herself how to design and code websites, she was taking on freelance projects for both local and international companies.
As one of 10 children in a big, loving, close-knit family in Toledo, Ohio, DeRaedt has always been self-motivated and determined to make her own path.
“There were no similar programs at any of the other universities I looked at.”The next path in her life will take her to California in June to start a graduate’s dream first job at Google, where she will be a user experience designer. The job offer came about after she proved herself last summer as a design intern on the Google Search team. The first BGSU student to intern at Google, she landed one of the 12 design intern positions the company offers.
DeRaedt’s path to Google, while still a little surreal to the Bowling Green State University Visual Communication Technology (VCT) major, has always been part of her dream.
From her early teen years when she started doing freelance design projects, Google was an important tool. “Every time I wanted to learn something, Google was my teacher,” she recalled. The techniques she learned were the catalysts for advancement from freelance projects to nominations for design awards, which in turn earned her a spot as a vlogger for the BBC’s children’s show Technobabble. For the educational children’s show about technology, DeRaedt enjoyed teaching concepts from web development to digital art creation.
She’s learned one of the secrets to success “is to always put yourself in the way of opportunities,“ she explained.
During grade school, Rita attended Ohio Virtual Academy. Before selecting BGSU for it’s ideal VCT program, she did post-secondary education at the University of Toledo for high school.
“I love technical design. The VCT program offered the fundamentals, which is exactly what I was looking for,” she said. “There were no similar programs at any of the other universities I looked at.”
The classes were fantastic and the faculty were supportive, she stated, but the real advantage of the program was the co-op requirement. Her first and second co-ops were with a Toledo agency, Hanson Inc. These experiences moved her from being a solo freelancer to a team player. It was there that she was afforded the opportunity to take charge of some high-level projects. She worked with developers, engineers and was pitching designs. One of the first projects was for Rubbermaid, “where I learned to speak about the project as a whole, not just about design,” she recalled. “It affirmed my interest in technical design.”
When it came time to apply for her third and final co-op, she decided to try for coveted Google internship. “It was my dream. Why not try for the opportunity?” she asked herself. DeRaedt wasn’t sure a BGSU student would be able to stand out among the thousands of other applicants. But, in the end, her experience, awards and education were a good fit for the company.
“It’s excellent to know Google is willing to find talent wherever it lies,” she said.
During the internship, she was able to complete several projects and even had one project launch during her first month, which is almost unheard of for interns, she added.
Her success as an intern at Google transferred into a solid job offer, months before she would graduate. “This just speaks to the importance of co-ops,” she said. “If you make the right impression, it’s the ultimate interview.”
After interviewing and getting offers from other companies like Facebook, she decided to accept Google’s offer.
In many ways, the path has come full circle for DeRaedt. She has taken on several public speaking engagements, sharing her experience and knowledge about technical design with fellow BGSU students and professionals in the northwest Ohio area.
Her suggestion for fellow students, “Go for the things you want in life and make the most of the opportunities that come your way.”