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Google woos talent in code competition

Arif Mohamed

Google is offering jobs, £21,000 in prize money and iPod Minis in a coding competition designed to attract programming talent to the company.

The internet search firm said participants in its Code Jam competition would have to crack a series of tough computer programming challenges, creating code in one of four programming languages.

Contestants will compete online for 500 places in the first round, with the second round having 200 places. Fifty finalists will then be flown to Dublin for the final round.

Successful competitors will be invited to work at Google’s growing number of European research and development centres, working on mobile coding conundrums among other things.

Google’s UK engineering site director Shannon Maher, said “At Google, we minimise hierarchy and maximise what can be done at the individual contributor level. We have optimised our whole business for innovation – for example, engineers are allowed to spend 20% of their time on whatever they want to do, and this allows us to cross pollinate a lot of new ideas.

“We are looking for people who can live in a less structured environment. This is not radically different from how we interview people. We do a lot of problem solving at interview.”

However, Maher said the contest was more than a recruitment tool. “It is part of our outreach into the community – to celebrate that coding is fun for solving problems.”

He said that other industries could adopt the idea of the contest to attract skilled workers, as long as they constructed their challenges in line with the skills they require.

Google’s contest runs from the beginning of May until 29 June, and has already attracted more than 1,000 programmers. “It is a useful way to recruit the types of people you need,” said Maher.

 


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