Q. What about after college?
A. I studied computer science, and I had thought that my path would be to become an engineer. But I got a call from a recruiter at Google, who said, “You should come interview for the associate product manager program.” I didn’t know what a product manager was, so I just went, even though I already had another offer I was planning to take. I ended up meeting Marissa Mayer. I said to her: “I don’t know if I want to work here. I have this other offer. I think I’m going to be an engineer.”
She told me: “The best advice I can give you is that when I had to make a choice between two paths, I always chose the more challenging one, and that has always been the correct decision. So you should think about that.” That’s how I ended up at Google.
At the Times, Adam Bryant has an interview with Jess Lee, the chief executive of Polyvore, a fashion site. She talks about some advice she received from Marissa Mayer straight out of college, and how she rose to become the C.E.O. of a site she loved:
One of my friends showed me Polyvore, and I just fell in love with the product. I wrote a note to the founders — I didn’t know them — and just said: “Hey, this is amazing. I have some complaints and some suggestions.” I wrote a long list of complaints, and then they wrote back and said: “Hey, why don’t you fix this stuff yourself? Why don’t you join us?” We met for coffee and we clicked. In the beginning, I was writing code, selling ads, washing dishes, whatever needed to get done. After a few years the founders came to me and said, “We’d like to start recognizing you as a co-founder going forward.” They didn’t have to do that, but the company has a culture of rewarding people who do make a difference. A few years later they said, “We’ve decided to make you C.E.O.”