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Eric Davenport: What does a Google engineer look like?

I’m Eric Davenport, Jr., and I’m a Pursuit Fellow from the 6.3 iOS cohort.

I’m proud to say that today I’m a Software Engineering Apprentice at Google.

I’m going to try not to be so emotional today but I know it’s going to be hard. Those of you that know me, and are aware of my journey, know that I can be a big teddy bear at times. But this is a very special moment for me so I wanted to share my story with you.

I want to tell you about two moments in my life where I had real emotional breakthroughs. I’m not a crier but in these moments I feel I truly shed tears. And I feel this may be the next moment as this is my first time celebrating and even telling my journey outside a personal setting.

The first moment I want to tell you about was when I had an epiphany and realized that I needed to change my life.

“I wanted to share my story because 6 months ago, in my mind I didn’t look like a Google engineer. But I’m here to change everyone’s mental image of what that is. Because I am a Google engineer.”
-Eric Davenport, Software Engineer at Google
To take you back, I was born and raised in Queens.

I made a lot of bad decisions as a kid. I was always the quiet kid growing up, but that served me well. I did trouble but I never really got into trouble.

I didn’t care much about school growing up. To tell you the truth, I was going to the 9th grade for the 4th time, which means it was my senior year and I was still in the 9th grade. So in 2008, I ended up moving down to North Carolina to try my hand at graduating high school and eventually being able to go to college. I was good, I was back on my path, but I got caught up in my usual trouble and ended up getting kicked out.

At this point, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I had to make a living so I worked a bunch of different jobs. I worked every job at Walmart, then FedEx, then eventually at a call center for Pepsi. And at one point all 3 at once. To be truthful, I was depressed. Working hard, still broke, and feeling lost in life.

In 2018 I took a trip up to NYC to visit my family. And on the flight back, about 30 minutes before landing, I just started crying. Not boo who-ing but tears just pouring.

Everything told me to stop, I just did not want to keep doing what I was doing. After I landed, within a few days I quit my job And let go of my apartment. Over the next 2 months I chose to spend that time with my girlfriend, I sold everything I couldn’t take, threw away the rest, took my TV, clothes, and consoles and I moved back to NYC.

I didn’t have a plan, I didn't have a better option in NYC but I needed a change. I slept on my parent’s couch as I figured it all out, even as I went through Pursuit.

Fast forward 3 years. I’m on the phone with the Google recruiter. I had been communicating with her throughout the interview process, which was no walk in the park. I never thought I’d get an offer… in fact, when the Google application came to me, I wasn’t going to apply because I thought,

“This is Google, this is stupid, this is not who you are, and you don’t belong there”

I don't know what you all think a Google engineer looks like, but in my mind that definitely wasn't me.

When she told me that they were giving me an offer, I bawled my eyes out.

I had to mute myself because I was so emotional. I had been holding back so much and at that moment it all just came out. It was that ugly cry.

But it was such a different type of emotion from the first story. When I cried after I got off that plane in North Carolina, I was crying because I felt stuck. I didn’t know what I was doing or what my purpose was. I was lost. But when I started crying after I got into Google, those were tears of joy and excitement. I was finally able to start being happy through all the things I had been through.

But I knew that all the qualities and skills I gained during Pursuit would help me in this next phase of my journey.

I want to take a moment to show my appreciation for Pursuit. A lot of things I learned helped transform me both professionally and personally. It elevated how I mentally move and think through life in some aspects. As it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I don't want to say hell, but if you know me, I’m starting on the hardest difficulty. And this felt like a new game.

What got me through it was the Pursuit community-- the other Fellows, 6.3, and especially my instructor Alex Paul. After getting to know one another not only did he understand me but I will say he became an excellent mentor and friend. One strong lesson that I learned in particular that I would like to share is that I can remain true to myself and still succeed in life.

That’s how I approached the Google interview. I was honest and open throughout the process about what I knew, what I didn’t know, and what my intentions were. And I believe that carried me through to the offer. One of the Google application questions was “what are you most excited about in the tech space and why?” My response was “technology is the future… and I am going to be a part of it or at the forefront.” Whether I got the job or not.

I’m thankful to both Pursuit and to Google for helping me on my journey. I’m excited to be part of the Google Software Engineering Apprenticeship program that’s helping create diversity and new pathways in the tech world for people like me.

I finally learned I can celebrate my failures along with my victories as they are one and the same because it’s all a part of my journey. Pursuit helped me start to reach and display my full potential.

“I want all the other Fellows to understand that we are in an age of manifestation. We’re here to break the chains and you can do what you put your mind to.”
-Eric Davenport ending off his Gong Ceremony as he joined Google
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