Latinas in tech: Meet Googler Melissa Holguin, Software Engineer, YouTube Music
Melissa Holguin is a first-generation Peruvian-American, and she is the first in her family to attend college. Melissa earned her Bachelor’s degree, majoring in computer science with a minor in music, from the University of Central Florida.
Melissa has a life-long passion for music & technology. She is currently a Google software engineer working on YouTube for Artists. She builds analytical tools that provide musicians and their managers insightful information about their audience. Melissa recently contributed to the launch of charts.youtube.com. Here, she shares her personal and professional missions and how she brings her perspective and experience to Google and YouTube.
How and why did you begin working at Google?
When I was in college, I worked for a small, 5-person company. I was just starting to apply my computer science knowledge to actual work. I didn't think that I was ready to work for a large company. I was just learning how to program professionally. I received an email from Google asking if I would be interested in a position with them, and I said, “Yes, of course!” and that led me to Google’s Engineering Residency Program.
The Engineering Residency was an amazing experience. They take what you've learned at school and grow your knowledge and skills so you can work successfully in industry -- which is exactly what I needed. That experience solidified my decision that yes, I do want to work here at Google. I had a great time in my residency, learning the culture and values of the company. It helped me gain confidence for when I transitioned into my full-time role.
Can you give an overview of your role and mission at Google?
My role as a software engineer in YouTube Music Analytics involves designing and developing data pipelines, working with APIs, and building and maintaining tools used by artists such as our charts and insights pages. We are focused on making YouTube a premier music platform by using data and analytics to help artists build their careers, engage with users, and grow their fan base.
How does your background influence your work?
I've always been passionate about music. I actually wanted to become a musician when I was thinking about college. I took an engineering route because I also love building and creating. It’s funny that these two actually go together really well. I thought that if I can't be a professional musician, I would use my engineering knowledge to build technology that is helpful to musicians and fans of music. That describes my role in YouTube music perfectly.
How is your work important?
With about 2 billion users, YouTube is the largest stage on earth and a powerful growth engine for an artist’s career.
Our goal is to provide artists with information and tools to help them grow their careers. Something I mentioned earlier, is that our site enables artists, record labels and agencies to understand their fans’ streaming behaviors and make informed data-driven decisions. On charts, we have four different types of charts. We have top artist, top songs, top music videos and trending.
Music Insights is a complementary site to charts. Insights provides artists with information about their fan base and their top songs. Artists can learn where people are listening, in what countries and cities they are most popular and what their most popular songs are for any given location. This is essential for planning tours and shows.
Music lovers can also benefit from the work that we do. Our top charts and playlists allow people to discover new music and new artists.
What inspires you most about your work?
I love building tools that benefit the people who make and listen to music.
I've always loved the fact that software developers have the power to create something out of nothing. That something can make peoples’ lives easier, and that is something I've always loved about programming.
That relates to how YouTube is revolutionizing how fans and artists can engage through music. I'm inspired by the opportunity to contribute to this place where artists and fans connect and share their experience.
I’m inspired by my team. As I mentioned in “My Path to Google,” I am surrounded at work by really great, smart people. That gives me motivation to get to a higher level. Everyone here is helpful. No one feels out of place, and that's great.
How can people engage with and benefit from YouTube Music?
When artists put their content on YouTube music, they can see the results of their efforts.They can use our charts to see where they are with their fan base. They can see how well they're doing, and possibly where they should plan their next concert to best connect with their fans.
Music lovers can also use our site to discover new artists. They can see what an artist’s top songs are, and they can see which songs are popular in different locations. And, of course, they can use the YouTube music app on their phone or computer to listen to the music they love.