Originally Published in Inside Psychology, Spring 2013
Winner of the 2011 Philip Steven Rethis Memorial Award, which is given for character, determination, and scholarship, Paul Herzlich of Daly City, California is currently using his psychology degree at Google, where he works in the legal department. We were able to catch up with Paul and get some thoughts on how his psychology degree helped pave the way for his early career success.
IP: What is your current job at Google? Has your psych degree helped, and in what ways?
PH: I currently work as a Legal Assistant at Google. It's an extremely rewarding job, and I feel very lucky to be working for such a cutting-edge and forward-thinking company. My favorite part is being able to work with intelligent people every day; it's very much like UCSB in that respect!
Right now at Google I am focusing on being a mentor to team members and learning what it means to teach while working along others.
The knowledge that I gained while pursuing my Psych degree has really formed my ability to approach different people in a manner that most comfortably suits them; I learned how to focus on the way that others receive and perceive information. Not only is this helping me at Google today, but it also directly helped me when I worked as a lecture note-taker for the Disabled Students Program at UCSB. I was assigned to take lecture notes for physically or mentally challenged students during all four undergraduate years, including for almost all of my Psych classes. By learning how to focus on the people who were receiving the information, I was able to develop more universally clear sets of notes; the head of the program told me that I received the highest feedback rating of all lecture note-takers at UCSB. It's really gratifying to know how much I was able to help my fellow students as they expanded their Psychology knowledge.
IP: What are your future plans, career-wise?
PH: I would love to work at Google for the rest of my career. It truly is my dream company. Googlers are a perfect combination of intelligent, professional, and social. My nerdy side also feels right at home!
IP: What are your hobbies, avocations, things you do for fun?
I like to sing while playing acoustic guitar and electric bass (I own a replica of Paul McCartney's bass), and I like to play video games from time to time. I love to travel: For the past several years, my parents, brother, and I have gone on vacations every summer to national parks around the U.S. I've been to pretty much every famous national park -- the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Crater Lake, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and more. (My family and I are very connected to nature and the outdoors.) I've also been to landmarks such as Mount Rushmore and Niagara Falls. I'd eventually like to travel elsewhere as well, especially to Europe. My most peculiar hobby is collecting bottlecaps! There's something really fun about trying to find new and unique designs that I haven't come across before; it's a mini-adventure that has no end.
IP: How did it feel and what did you think upon winning the The Philip Steven Rethis Memorial Award?
It was absolutely amazing! It felt wonderful, but most of all I felt grateful. I felt a sense of validation that the way I approach life is meaningful -- that no matter what adversity you may face in your life, you always have the power to make your own positives and to be the source of your own success.
I feel that the award is rooted in this very idea – that determination leads to self-realization – and that's why the award is so meaningful to me.