Jayden Tilbrook

Graduated: 2011

Current Role: Software Engineer at Google - Google Maps

Did you always aspire to be in the job position you currently hold?

Somewhat. When I first learnt how to code at the age of nine, I found it created a sense of joy and fulfilment that I hadn’t really experienced before. Even so, I had intended to be an astrophysicist, and I didn’t consciously change my plans until I was about 14.

Around that time I also started the IT - Multimedia class at CTHS, which I liked just as much. For the next four years it was a toss-up between becoming a programmer or a VFX artist, and I didn’t actually decide which one I wanted until it came time to put in University preferences.

Even after that, I did revisit the decision once or twice, but I’m happy with where I landed.

What have you done since leaving CTHS?

Some of my favourite things:

  • I built a game animation toolset as a hobby project. This spanned about three years and taught me almost as much about programming as University did.

  • Built several smaller hobby projects and games, a few of which won some competitions!

  • I worked as a Software Engineer for a startup for about two years, whilst at University. Whilst I don’t necessarily endorse working full time and studying full time, it taught me a lot!

  • Graduated University with a Bachelors of Software Engineering.

  • Some of the usual adulting stuff, like moving out and learning the frequency with which you need to clean a duvet. I also adopted a dog with my partner!

  • Launched a brand-new set of APIs for Google Maps.

  • Travelled a bit, both for work and for fun. I averaged about 6 weeks out of the year away from home from 2015 to 2019.

  • And this year, I started working towards getting my private pilot’s license.

Describe your average work day....

My work day starts with my team’s daily standup, which is a nice touch point to stay connected to everyone. After that I’ll usually jump into some project work. Engineers own their projects end-to-end at Google, so alongside coding I’m usually also managing the design and testing, as well as the launch process for new features.

I’ll usually eat lunch with my team or some of my other colleagues at the in-office cafe. Most meetings are after lunch, which are usually either focused on our projects or career development. And then it’s back to coding!

There are also a lot of community events at Google, and things to do around the office when you want to take a break. My favourite parts of the office are probably the makerspace and the VR room, and that’s where you’ll usually find me if I’m not at my desk! We also have an in-house teaching kitchen, and I’m looking forward to taking a cooking class with my team in a few weeks’ time.

Please share some words of wisdom for today's students...

  1. Decisions don’t have to be forever. Especially in high school, the future can seem quite daunting! During the HSC, I spent a lot of time concerned that I wouldn’t get some big decision right, and that my life would then be harder as a result. Usually this isn’t true! Most of the time, you can change your mind if you try something and realise it isn’t right. This is even the case with what feel like large choices, such as “what do I want to do after school?” The most important thing is to take the first step!

  1. The number one thing that holds people back is that they don’t believe they are capable of achieving their dreams. As a result, many people (myself included) will give up before they’ve even begun! I guarantee that you are all far more talented and worthy of your goals than you give yourselves credit for. So, the next time you tell yourself you can’t do something, give it a go anyway!