Lay the Foundation Before “Just Google It”

An argument for what needs to happen before you can “Just Google It”

Disclaimer: I love surfing Google. Google’s CEO and I share an alma mater. I have distant relatives who work at Google. Two of my college roommates work at Google. One of them brought me a Google sweater. 50% Polyester, 38% Cotton, 12% Rayon — it is the most comfortable sweater I own.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Foundation:

I believe someone needs a foundation before they begin googling. When I started working at Starbucks, I had no existing foundation. I couldn’t tell the difference between coffee and a latte. What was the difference between returning coffee to a customer versus sending a drink order to the espresso bar? After a year and a half of working at Starbucks I know a latte contains espresso shots and milk. The number of shots depends on the cup size. I now know coffee is a magical drink that prevents you from sleeping. Plus, I know how to brew coffee using Starbucks machines.

Nonetheless , two months into the job I couldn’t tell you how many seconds a steam wand needs to sit in the milk to get the perfect latte texture and temperature. Additionally, I couldn’t make drinks or brew coffee. As a result, during those first two months, I had a mandatory meeting with my boss to discuss my development. She said, “I don’t want to compare you to anyone BUT JULIANA was able to make drinks after 3 weeks, and you’ve been here for almost 3 months.” Then she handed me a piece of paper to sign and said, “think of this as a plan of action.” The paper essentially said that if I can’t make drinks, they’ll have to “revisit” my position at the store; a euphemism for “we’re going to fire you.” Consequently, I worked tirelessly, learning how to make drinks. Fortunately, after all my hard work, the store manager quit, and I was never fired.

During the first couple months, at Starbucks, I was able to lay a foundation for what I’d need in order to be a successful employee. Over time I expanded my domain knowledge by learning how to make drinks. With more knowledge I was able to work at double the speed with half the effort.

Schema:

Wikipedia says, “A schema describes a pattern of thought or behavior that organizes categories of information and the relationships among them.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schema_(psychology))

In the book, Peak, Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool say, “The key benefit of mental representations [aka schemas] lies in how they help us deal with information: understanding and interpreting it, holding it in memory, organizing it, analyzing it, and making decisions with it.”

Schema’s help when googling. Let’s start with an example. One time I was picking up my 4-year-old cousin from daycare. Normally, his mom would pick him up, so I was met with the surprised gaze of many toddlers. Then, a toddler exclaimed to my cousin, “Is that your grandma?!?” I was twenty-three. The toddler was confused because I didn’t match their schema for the type of person that normally arrives at daycare.

I assume my cousin’s playmate’s schema, for who usually arrives at daycare, included parents and grandparents, but not cousin. Subsequently, my cousin exclaimed, “Noooo that’s my cousin!” His playmate had to incorporate this new information into his existing schema. There is also a possibility that my assumptions are wrong, and the playmate was trying to make a dig at how old I look for my age. I’d rather not take the assumption that hurts my ego.

Conclusion in Relation to Googling:

Google is a great resource, but to perform a search you must have a foundation. A more intricate schema will lead to a more accurate google search. It would be more precise to google ‘latte’ as oppose to ‘coffee, question mark, milk’. It would be more beneficial to search ‘cousin’ rather than ‘not grandma looking human’. When google searching code, ‘pandas matplotlib’ is way more specific and helpful than ‘coding graph not working, why.’ That is why I believe it is best to lay the foundation and build a schema before googling. It saves time and a headache.

Aspiring Data Scientist

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