Alumni in Focus: Matt Bradshaw

Matt Bradshaw

This month's alumni in focus has a job that many only dream of, he is working for tech giant Google in Silicon Valley.

1. What were your career aspirations while studying, what was the ‘dream’ job?
As a kid I wanted to be "an inventor", and at uni I realised that never actually changed. Solving interesting problems and building cool things has always been my ambition, just with a bit more of a plan now! 

2. You worked for the Department of Human Services for a year and a half almost immediately after graduating from the University of Adelaide – what was this experience like as a recent graduate entering the workforce? How did it measure up your aspirations?
The people were the best part of DHS and I still look up to a lot of them. They were all very kind and they had a great sense of humour. 

3. It’s a big leap to go from Government department to small startup – what were some of the highlights of your time at Appvation?
They trusted me from the start and gave me all the tools I needed to build great software. I built the world's first official digital drivers license which was a nice achievement, and nothing compares to feeling of seeing my friends using something that I actually built. 

4. Did you ever think you’d move to Silicon Valley or work for Google? What was it like doing this relatively early in your career?
It's been a goal for me since late 2016 and it's something I worked towards every day since graduating. The move itself has been one of the most emotionally and physically exhausting challenges of my life. Now that I'm a bit more settled I feel so incredibly lucky to be here. I have an opportunity to help billions of people and do something good for society. 

5. What was running through your mind when Google contacted you to interview for the Software Engineering position?
I was so confused at first. The email sig just said "Building for Billions" and I couldn't remember applying for a company called Billions. When I realised who it was from I was shocked, then I was excited, then I was scared, and then finally I was late for work. The rest is a blur. 

6. What is life like living and working in the global epicentre of technology and innovation that is Silicon Valley?
Its amazing! There's super fast internet, self-driving cars, cute squirrels, Teslas everywhere, and the weather is suspiciously sunny every day. The highlight of life here so far has been San Francisco Pride. I went with my husband in July and I was blown away with the sheer scale of it. Over a hundred thousand people attended and I don't think I've ever seen so much rainbow in my life. 

7. How does the reality of working at a global brand name like Google compare to the expectations you had prior to commencing in the position?
I've love to talk about Google and I could fill books on the topic, but unfortunately I can't comment on the details. 

8. What does a typical day in your life consist of now? How does this compare to when you were living in Adelaide?
My day involves a lot more learning and reflection than it used to. I think there's a narrative in society that leaving uni means switching from learning to being directly productive, but I've since learned that productivity alone is unsustainable both at the individual and societal level. Switching my focus back to learning has fundamentally changed my life for the better. 

9. What’s up next for you?
I'm still unsure how I got this far so what's next doesn't seem like a real question yet. Underneath everything I'm still just trying to invent cool things. In the long term I want to return to Australia, either as a Googler in our Sydney office or as an independent engineering consultant. 

10. What advice would you give to your younger self or budding software engineers on the cusp of graduation? 
Find a company with a culture you like. Forget about money if you can, and instead focus on being happy. You'll advance towards your goals a lot faster. Keep making mistakes. Break rules that don’t make sense. 

Tagged in alumni, young alumni network