Baljeet Singh grew up in Potomac, attended Wayside Elementary, munched on pizza at Potomac Pizza and today works as a project developer for Google in San Bruno, CA.
From his younger years spent in Potomac neighborhoods, to today unveiling new products for Google and YouTube, Patch wanted to know how Baljeet got started finding his passion. We asked him to talk a little bit about his success story and relay some advice for seniors in high school graduating this year and moving on to their next steps in life.
How long did you live in Potomac? Where did you go to high school?
I lived in Potomac for 12 years, from 1st grade up until I left for college. I went to in Potomac, and Sidwell Friends High School in Washington DC.
What about your projects and job do you enjoy most?
In the role of a product manager at Google, I develop the product roadmap and work across various teams to bring an idea to life. My most recent project is AdWords for video, which has just launched. This was something that has been in development for more than two and a half years. Watching it grow from a concept to a product, and addressing all the challenges along the way, is extremely rewarding.
How will it be useful for local businesses such as those in Potomac?
Everyone has heard of Justin Bieber and musicians that have gotten their start on YouTube, but we actually have a great culture of entrepreneurship on YouTube. There’s a huge opportunity for small businesses to brand themselves and reach customers as large companies do with TV, in a way that was never available before.
AdWords for video makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to reach customers on YouTube. In less than 10 minutes you can have your first ad campaign up and running on YouTube. If you have a cameraphone and a laptop, you can create a video ad.
What got you interested in this sort of project development?
The main drivers are two things. First, I’ve always felt that small businesses are vital to the growth and health of our country. I remember the local shops in Potomac like (one of my favorite places in Potomac) and the sense of community that you develop when you know the people you’re buying from. When small businesses get onto YouTube, they can connect with people on a global scale - while still retaining the personality that makes them special.
Second, I’ve always been passionate about science and technology. Learning about the world around me and how things work has been a big driver through my years at school and even today in my work. At Google, entrepreneurial and inquisitive minds thrive because we have the freedom to experiment and try new things.
What advice would you have for Potomac-area high school seniors starting off on their own college/life journeys?
Be open-minded and challenge assumptions. Not only is that welcome in the world, but it’s important to think through all perspectives when evaluating a situation. Try something outside of your comfort zone and take a class on a subject you wouldn’t have normally pursued. Being exposed to new thoughts, ideas and experiences was one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career, and something that I continue to seek out at Google.
One of the reasons I love Google is that I can learn something new every week.
One of my biggest regrets is not taking more advantage of the resources provided to me during my education. There are so many resources available at all the educational institutions I attended: Sidwell Friends, Duke and NYU. Those resources are invaluable and are much sought after yet are under-appreciated when you're actually a part of those institutions and at that age. As you get older, you find yourself seeking out opportunities to learn, whereas in college, they were all at your fingertips.