Brian Garber ’14 G’16, a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) at Google, has been fascinated by the intersection of people and technology since he was a toddler. Brian is a recipient of a 2021 iSchool Orange Impact Award, recognizing remarkable alumni who have continued to contribute to the iSchool after graduation. Brian’s undergraduate degree is in Information Management & Technology with minors in Spanish, Psychology, and Global Enterprise Technology. Brian also received a Certificate of Advanced Study in Information Security Management and an M.S. in Telecommunications & Network Management from the iSchool. At Google, Brian’s team is responsible for building, scaling, securing, designing, and repairing the internal information technology infrastructure.
Every student’s path to the iSchool is unique, and Brian’s path was intentional: he knew he wanted to study information technology right from the start. When he discovered the iSchool at Syracuse University, his interest piqued, but he needed more information. During the application process, Brian connected with Julie Walas, who was the recruiter for undergrad programs at the time. In 2010, Julie met Brian at a Panera Bread on a rainy Sunday evening for a standard admissions interview. During their conversation, Julie was impressed with Brian’s charisma and interest in information technology. “It was clear that Brian had a passion and vision for what he wanted to study, a quality that made him unique among other undergrad applicants,” recalled Walas.
Once on campus, Brian became involved in a slew of activities, particularly in the iSchool. He was a Peer Advisor, a Teaching Assistant, a Research Assistant, the founder of the Information Security Club, and an outstanding student. Brian generally took every opportunity he could find to give back to the school, to mentor others, and to partner alongside faculty. Brian’s focus inside the iSchool was more technical in nature: he pursued the more advanced coursework in systems, networking, and infrastructure. Bahram Attaie, an Assistant Professor of Practice at the iSchool, was the instructor for several of the advanced computer networking and security courses. Attaie remembers, “Brian displayed maturity beyond his years. Although he was laser-focused on his classwork, he was also striving to make our classroom an environment where everyone could learn and succeed. Brian’s persistence, hard work, and optimistic attitude easily put him at the top of the class.”
“What the iSchool offered me was a unique blend of diverse experiences that helped position me for the future.” – Brian Garber
As Brian worked his way through the iSchool, his technical interests led him to competitive and intensive internships, first with a school district in Pennsylvania, then with JPMorgan Chase in Delaware, and finally with Cisco Meraki in San Francisco.
When it came time to apply for full-time jobs as his graduation date neared, there was one that stood out to him: a residency program at Google focused on information technology. Residents became infrastructure experts, providing technical support for the company’s employees. “To me, the residency program seemed exciting because it aligned with my previous work experience and technical interests”, Brian noted. But the fact remained that getting hired by Google is quite difficult, with the Internet giant receiving approximately three million resumes annually.
“This is where your network can be exceptionally useful”, explained Garber. After perfecting his resume and applying for the job, he didn’t hear back from Google. Undaunted and determined to shake off the silence, Brian leveraged a connection to help get his application reviewed by a recruiter at Google. A very rigorous interview process followed, demanding hours of study and preparation. Once the interviews were complete, Brian received good news: an offer to join Google’s IT Residency Program. Since he was initially hired in 2015, Brian has held three different roles (IT Resident, Systems Administrator, and Site Reliability Engineer).
When asked what prepared him for his career, Brian explains that it’s actually a combination of factors. “I think it’s impossible to pinpoint one particular class, a specific professor, or an exact experience that got me where I am today”, noted Brian. “Instead, what the iSchool offered me was a unique blend of diverse experiences that helped position me for the future.”
One of the things Brian is thankful for from Syracuse University and the iSchool is the network. “A special advantage students have as part of the Syracuse University community is that you’re part of the Orange network,”he shares. “I’m certain there are many people in the alumni network who want to help and be part of your story, if you engage them.”
In fact, Brian feels that he’s been successful in his career and in many other parts of his life due to the help and support he’s had from various friends, colleagues, and professors. “There are lots of people who mentored, supported, and encouraged me along the way”, Brian explains. This is what really drives Brian’s desire to give back to the iSchool: “The chance to introduce students to Silicon Valley and help them achieve their goals is refreshing and exciting”, said Brian. He has hosted students at Google for Spring Break in Silicon Valley, held virtual iSchool Roadtrip sessions, facilitated “Bits of Advice” workshops for students, returned to campus for interview information sessions, and more.
In closing, Brian offers: “I think in life, we all need a support system. Sometimes, help and support can come from places that you would never expect. That’s what inspires my attitude toward giving back to the iSchool, and to helping students engage their Orange network.”
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