Iowa track and field senior doubles as an intern at Google

Now in his senior year, Iowa track’s Chris Douglas is making a name for himself not only on the track, but with one of the largest companies in the world.


Ben Allan Smith

Iowa’s Chris Douglas finishes first in the 200 meters during the 19th-annual Musco Twilight meet at the Cretzmeyer Track on April 12, 2018.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

The end of a school year means a lot of things for college students. Summer vacation offers a more relaxed period in which some of the stresses from the academic year can be left behind.

Summer can bring with it vacations and part-time jobs, or in the case of Chris Douglas, an internship with one of the largest companies in the world.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be interning at Google the past two summers,” he said. “I’ll be going back again this summer, too.”

Douglas, a computer-science major from Deerfield, Illinois, has been a standout hurdler on the Iowa track and field team throughout his Hawkeye career. Now in his senior season, he picked up his most recent All-American honor after placing third at the Big Ten Indoor Championships in the 60-meter hurdles and sixth at NCAAs.

Douglas is used to jumping over hurdles, but he had a different obstacle in front of him when interviewing for the position with Google.

“You go into these interviews, and they’re not like a standard behavioral interview where they ask you about yourself and other stuff,” Douglas said. “They basically give you questions, and you have to solve them in code, and they watch you program out these answers, and then you talk through it.”

With a nearly infinite number of candidates available for a position such as this, Douglas had to make a good impression. To do this, he used some skills he has picked up out on the track.

“You have to explain your decisions and designs,” Douglas said. “The interviewers really put you on the spot. It’s high pressure, but you just have to be able to handle it, which I’ve definitely learned how to do as an athlete.”

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Once Douglas got the Google position, he jumped in and quickly became a member of another team.

“All the employees there really work as a team,” Douglas said. “Everyone is helping each other and doing their part. They treated me like I was a full-time engineer right from the start. You have to learn quickly.”

So many things are going on behind the scenes at Google, and Douglas found out that one day can be very different from the next.

“I pretty much just go into the office in the morning, and sit behind a computer, and work on any projects I have,” Douglas said. “There are so many things you can do, so I’m not just stuck at a desk all day. It’s a lot of programming.”

After he graduates, Douglas plans on staying with Google and pursuing a career as a software engineer. Before that, however, he wants to continue to turn heads out on the track with his fellow hurdlers.

“I think we’re one of the best groups in the country,” Douglas said. “We’re definitely one of the top-three high-hurdling programs in the nation, and hopefully with the 400 hurdles, we can show everyone that we’ve got a lot of talent there. We want to send the seniors out on a high note.”

When his career as a track athlete is over, he will be happy to fill that void with another one of his passions: computer engineering.

“It’s a lot of fun working at Google,” he said. “It’s a great environment and a great experience, and it’s been something that I’ll be able to take with me the rest of my life.”

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