Google Veteran: Sam Freilich '08

Rebecca Patterson '18

Samuel Freilich has worked for ITA Software (at Google) since the day after he graduated from Olin in 2008. He often comes back to campus to tell Oliners what it’s like to work at Google. In his time there, he has seen many changes to the company, including ownership and location.  We’ll let him tell the rest of the story:


Sam, his wife Julie and their new baby

Tell us more about ITA and what you do there.
I work at Google on ITA Software's airfare search product. I started working at ITA immediately after graduation in 2008. (Really immediately, my first day of work was the day after commencement.) ITA was acquired by Google in 2011, and we moved (a few blocks) to join the rest of the Google Cambridge office in 2013. So I'm now working on the same project, but supporting Google Flights in addition to ITA's existing airline and travel-agent customers.

What is a typical day of work like?
A lot of debugging, a bit of coding, writing tests, working on documentation, and a very nice lunch.

What do you feel you are doing that's innovative?
I've always been a maintenance programmer at heart. I'm working on software that's been under development for 15 years, in Common Lisp, a language that's older than Java and C++. The infrastructure I'm working on enables some innovative stuff, though. The Flights interface is really cool. I'm happy trying to make my project into a better base to innovate on (making the most of Google’s really excellent infrastructure for developing software and maintaining it in production).  At the same time, I respond to customers’ changing demands and work to always make the system better.

How have you made a difference in the world since leaving Olin?
My project makes shopping for air travel somewhat more pleasant. Flights is very nice, but it's not really a "save the world" kind of endeavor. I try to donate a significant chunk of my income each year to causes that help the world's poorest.

Looking back, how did Olin help you get to where you are today?
The biggest impact was that Olin made me much, much better at communication and teamwork. It also gave me a very good grounding in computer science and engineering design, plus a well-rounded education.

Do you have time for fun? What do you like to do?
My first child was born in January, so obviously that makes a big difference in how I’m using my time. I just got back to work from parental leave, and I’m still adjusting to the new routine. But I do try to fit in some reading and gaming, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I spend time playing board games with friends, playing Ingress, and working out at the gym.

Advice for current students?
Do those internships!  Also, don't overload on the classes. A normal schedule is quite a bit, and there are a lot of other interesting things to do.

Posted in: Alumni Speak