Where They’re Headed: Nora Tien ’17

The computer science major will begin the Google Engineering Residency program in New York this fall.

A program at Google designed to transform early-career computer scientists into the next generation of technology leaders will have a Ford in its newest cohort. Nora Tien ’17 is moving to New York this fall for the tech giant’s yearlong Engineering Residency program.

The residency begins with an eight-week training period followed by two rotations onto different Google Engineering teams, giving Tien and her cohort of about 30 other residents an introduction to skills, theories, workflows, and techniques necessary for a career in software programming at Google. Tien plans to learn as much as she can about computational linguistics and natural language processing—two subjects she hopes to specialize in at graduate school in the future. And she is grateful for the opportunity to engage in the “myriad of possibilities” available to her at Google.

“Google is doing both customer-oriented software and very ambitious research and nonprofit work,” says the former Haverford computer science major. “I’m feeling very fortunate to get to do something that allows you to tackle new problems on a daily basis, to be creatively quantitative.”

While the residency will help her assimilate into the professional tech world, Tien has had a lot of preparation for a programming career. At Haverford, “a strong mathematical [and] theoretical foundation” in the computer science curriculum bolstered her passion for the subject. She learned to use “a mix of research, front end, and data science programming” to “practice solving difficult algorithmic problems.” Most importantly, her drive sparks from a general appreciation for the connective power of computer science.

“I value how useful computer science is when applied in tandem with another discipline,” she says. “You can contribute in real time to the world around you. I could not have hoped for a better fit in the Google Engineering Residency.”

Her undergraduate career provided more than just academic preparation for entering the professional world of programming. Years of stepping out of her comfort zone—taking her first computer science class as a freshman, moving to D.C. on her own the summer after sophomore year, and performing onstage with student dance groups—built confidence she needed in choosing the residency at Google over a full-time job.

“Having taken these risks,” Tien says, “has imbued me with a certain confidence—a faith in my abilities—forged in class and out with the help of my peers and professors.”

Tien is currently on vacation in Iceland and plans to visit her sister in India before returning stateside and starting her residency. When she arrives at Google, Tien will join fellow Ford and computer science major Tionney Nix ’17, who is also in the residency program.

Photo by Cole Sansom ’19.

“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.