- Falon Fatemi, the founder and CEO of the tech startup Node, was the youngest person Google ever hired when she got a job at age 19.
- The entrepreneur said she remembered how awe-struck she was the first time she toured the Google campus.
- Fatemi worked on global expansion and strategic partnerships for Google for six years, often learning skills on the job while also taking college classes in the mornings and evenings.
Most college sophomores are focused on passing their exams, getting good grades, and maybe lining up a summer internship.
Getting hired at one of the biggest companies in the world usually isn’t on the list.
But that’s exactly what Falon Fatemi did. In 2005, at the age of 19, Fatemi scored a job at Google, becoming the company’s youngest-ever employee.
Fatemi stayed at the company for six years, working on global expansion and strategic partnerships for Google and later for Youtube. Today, she’s the CEO of her own tech startup Node, which makes an AI-powered search tool that helps companies find sales leads.
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But 13 years after she first arrived at Google, Fatemi can still remember the day she first stepped foot on Google’s campus in Mountain View, California – and how awe-struck she was after just one glance.
“I just remember there was food that was just free and was amazing. It felt like a Michelin star experience,” Fatemi told Business Insider. “Everyone was very young, it was sunny, they had a band, people were throwing a football. I was like, what is this? Is this a resort?”
“People were playing MC Hammer in the background,” she added. “I had never seen anything like it.”
Before Google, Fatemi interned on Microsoft’s research team – an internship that earned her the recommendation that led to the Google gig. Although she planned on going into investment banking, her initial meeting with Google higher-ups convinced her to take the job there.
“Basically they asked me, ‘So what do you want to do?'” Fatemi said. “And I was like, ‘Look, I just want to learn everything,’ and that was that.”
Although the Google job was a full-time responsibility, Fatemi didn’t give up on her education. She continued taking business and computer science classes at Santa Clara University while working at Google’s Bay Area offices. She took a mix of early-morning and evening classes, she said. She even worked briefly at Google’s United Kingdom office when she was studying abroad at Imperial College London.
The unusual set-up gave Fatemi the opportunity to apply her education to real-world problems, she said.
“Honestly, I think a had a better educational experience as a result,” she told Business Insider. “Because everything I was learning, I would apply immediately. I’d learn about statistical concepts and go apply it on a network effects analysis of Google’s two product lines.”
Fatemi said in her early days at the company, she leaned on other colleagues to help her with business and engineering concepts. The collaborative nature of the company helped her get by, especially in London, when she was tasked with a project well beyond the grasp of most college students.
“I don’t even think they knew how old I was. It was like, ‘OK Falon, take two weeks and figure out how Google should enter Africa and Eastern Europe,” Fatemi said. “I mean, I’m a sophomore, I’ve never even taken a finance class, and I had to figure out what Google’s go-to-market strategy should be.”
“You just had to figure it out. It was a very sink-or-swim environment,” she said. “I came in as a 19-year-old, and I just figured it out.”
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