Mistral Myers '10 On Working At Google

February 10, 2016

Mistra Myers

We caught up with Mistral about the Barbara Lee Fellowship at Simmons — and what it's like working at Google!

What was your major at Simmons and what's your current job title?

I majored in international relations and minored in history and economics. My current job title is Project Coordinator at Google Ideas (part of Google Inc).

What's a typical day like at your job?

As a kind of operational jack-of-all-trades, I have a hand in lots of different sides of the department — projects, administration, event planning, onboarding and orientations for new staff — so every day throws out new and unexpected challenges.

How did you hear about your job? What was the job application process like?

I had just arrived in New York after finishing graduate school in London (my fiancée had landed a job here) and spent a few weeks feeling discouraged by the online job search. Finding a job, no matter how qualified you are, can be a demoralizing and frustrating process.  

One evening, I was waiting for the subway and struck up a conversation with someone on the platform (bonding over our mutual frustration with New York's public transportation). Upon hearing that I was on the job hunt, he forwarded me several email chains with random job postings in them. Inside was a tiny, 4-sentence note, advertising a new position with Google Ideas, an international "think/do" tank at Google.

I sent in my resumé that night, got a call back the next day and started work just a few weeks later. I am not a superstitious person, but serendipity doesn't even begin to cover how it felt finding this role.

What was your favorite class you took at Simmons?

Honestly, there is no way I could ever choose just one. International political science classes with Professor Beattie taught me to see the world in more than the stark black-and-white, good-and-bad moral terms of my youth and explore the murky shades of grey in the middle; classes on domestic politics with Professor Doherty gave me a new appreciation for the potency of national, state and local politics; economics courses with Professor Sohrabji —some of the most challenging and rewarding I took at Simmons — opened up the world of economics and gave me an entirely new language in which to engage with the world; and history classes with Professor Ortega pushed me to explore the contexts in which every single one of my other classes were situated.  

This is a very abbreviated list. I didn't even mention the educational and intellectual sparks that were started by classes with Carol Biewener, Masato Aoki, Ambassador Hull (the Warburg professor at the time) and so many others.

How has it been transitioning into a young professional?

I worked before coming to Simmons, I worked between leaving Simmons and entering graduate school and now I'm working again after graduate school. Having experience being a young professional before trying to "be an adult" post-undergrad is one of the best decisions I made. I was prepared to be in an office when others were struggling to adjust and made all the classic mistakes when I was young and had much less to lose.

I highly recommend any kind of work experience —internships, fellowships, hint hint: look at the Barbara Lee Fellowship! — it will make a huge difference in the jobs you are able to get after graduating and in your personal readiness to confront life after school.

How did Simmons help prepare you for your career?

Simmons lit within me a hunger to learn and make myself into a more knowledgeable, well-rounded person. This was excellent preparation for a career. I felt comfortable and ready to take on anything and was valued everywhere I went.

What advice would you give to the current Simmons undergraduate students?

You have a wealth of information and opportunity at your fingertips — from your professors, the school and your peers. Undergraduate life is a massive pool of interesting and engaging activities and that kind of environment doesn't come around as frequently at work. Even if you feel under pressure from demanding classes, papers and tests, soak in everything you can and say yes to as many opportunities as possible. You will thank me later. Don't let yourself be conditioned by society into being quiet, demure or passive. You are amazing, smart and powerful. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

What was it like being a Barbara Lee Fellow?

It was nothing short of amazing. I was placed in the office of (then) Representative (now Senator) Linda Dorcena Forry, one of Massachusetts only Haitian-American elected officials at the time. I arrived just days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Our office was spearheading relief efforts on the part of the state and —as a fluent French speaker —
that meant I dove head-first into coordinating emergency visas through (then) Senator John Kerry's office, organizing food drives and community meetings, translating between my colleagues and non-English speaking members of our community and helping keep the office running while the rest of the team helped to manage the crisis.

How did the Barbara Lee Fellowship expand your interest and knowledge in the political sphere?

You can study politics in theory, but there is no replacement for seeing the action in person. Arriving in the State House and getting to work, you really start to understand why the political process is so often fraught with difficulty and controversy. Being inside of that world also gives you a sense of your own potency. Individuals just like you can (and do) make a real difference in issues far greater that yourselves.

Why should Simmons students be involved in politics?

Women are still conditioned into making ourselves smaller, more polite, more agreeable, softer, quieter, more dainty. Simmons, on the other hand, has a long-standing philosophy of pushing women to be bigger, better, more forceful, more influential and more willing to seize opportunity and be involved. All things that are desperately needed of women all over the world. Having Simmons women in politics is what the world needs!

What's your Simmons moment?

The first time I stayed home on a Saturday to read because I was more fascinated by what I was learning than by anything else. That habit started fairly quickly after arriving at Simmons and it snowballed into a regular occurrence. Friends in other schools called me a nerd, claimed I was no fun and said I was wasting my college years — but if I could do that all over again, I wouldn't change a single darn thing.