In his own words, Nicholas (Nick) Huang ’18 is tasked with “building great products for users” as a product manager at technology giant Google. He does so alongside some of the brightest people in the industry—people who, he says, shook his confidence when he started three years ago.
“I was on a marketing team of around 20 folks, and more than three-quarters of them had Ivy League degrees. And then there’s me, a small-town Midwestern guy who went to public school, got turned down by the big natonally ranked universities, and ended up at a great but small liberal arts college. I experienced quite a bit of imposter syndrome,” he says. “I’m living proof that you don’t need to be an Ivy Leaguer to land your dream job at a top company like Google.”
He’s also proof that you can turn your life lessons into a guidebook for others.
Exploring Business (and People) A program for high school seniors interested in college listed Butler as fitting Huang’s criteria for a university. He made a somewhat last-minute choice, he says, and still unsure about his academic direction, began his Bulldog years as an Exploratory Business student.
“I’d done a job shadow that had to do with a small healthcare firm, and I got advice that business is a great way to build skills that will be applicable no matter what you do in life. It seemed like a nice middle ground from which I could connect to other things as my interests shifted.”
He found an array of opportunities to explore those interests at Butler. After his first year, Huang chose Finance as a core major and Marketing as a secondary major. He secured an internship in each of his four years: risk and insurance in Chicago, marketing in Indianapolis, tax consulting in Shanghai (through the Butler in Asia program), and serving former U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly in Washington, DC.
Huang also was a resident assistant and in student government, and he squeezed in annual service trips with Butler’s Fall Break Alternative program (“one of my top five most impactful experiences”) to improve living conditions for people in Appalachia.
Being LGBTQ+, Huang also sought out like-minded folks within the larger Butler community, finding just that at the Diversity Center. “Those people became my chosen family and the foundation of my support system from the time I was a first-year student through the present day,” Huang says.
“At Butler, you hear over and over that it’s really important to get as much real-world experience as possible and a large breadth of it. So my intention was to explore different environments, different types of work, different people.”
Focusing his interests for the future involved “crossing out a lot of things I found out I did not want to do. Butler helped me do that,” he says. “I found the traditional corporate style to be a little bit stifling, so I knew I wanted to work at a company that would be more flexible.”
Huang graduated summa cum laude in 2018. Despite offers, he walked off the Commencement stage with no desire to accept a corporate job. He had another plan.
“As a senior, I applied to more than 50 top companies and got zero callbacks,” he says. “So I ended up taking a gap year. I taught English in Macau (China) as a Fulbright Scholar. While I was doing that, I did a ton of research on how to land a job at a top company. Then I went through a second recruiting cycle and was lucky enough to get a job at Google.”
His job-hunting experience inspired him to write a book to help other non-Ivy Leaguers land the position they wanted. The book is now on Amazon. For the Non-Ivy Leaguer: How to Get a Job at Google, McKinsey or Goldman Sachs If You’re Not From the Ivy League is, according to Huang’s sales pitch on the site, “designed to help motivated non-Ivy Leaguers land their dream job at a top company. No fancy degrees and no family connections; just a smart, scrappy approach on how to play the job-recruiting game the right way.”
It’s a comprehensive guide, starting from a student’s first day on campus through four years of college to their hire date. Templates include the resume Huang used to snag the Google gig. Here’s an excerpt from “The Sophomore Year” chapter:
“As a sophomore, you likely have a solid foundation—a good GPA, on-campus involvement and a close group of friends—and now crave some real-world experience. This was me as a sophomore, but I had no idea where to start. I was still undecided on my major, had no idea what internships to target and worried, as a second-year college student, that I was wildly underqualified. Looking back, I made a ton of mistakes, but I did one thing right: I jumped in.”
And “I jumped in” could very well be Huang’s lifelong motto.