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ASU alum secures dream job at Google’s Moonshot Factory

Kyle Hoefer presents his virtual reality biking system to another student at the digital culture showcase

Kyle Hoefer presents his virtual reality biking system to another student at the digital culture showcase. Photo credit: Tim Trumble

June 17, 2020

Kyle Hoefer, an Arizona State University School of Arts, Media and Engineering alumnus, has landed a job at X, Google's Moonshot Factory provided by Adecco onsite, a semisecret research and development facility and organization where inventors and entrepreneurs aim to create radical new technologies to solve the world’s hardest problems. 

Hoefer, who studied digital culture at ASU as an undergraduate and as a graduate student, said he chose to attend the School of Arts, Media and Engineering because it offered him the chance to explore different passions. 

“I saw an opportunity to combine my love of technology and music in a space where you were not constrained to one single path,” he said. This was super important and apparent to me in my first two years of undergrad. I took my required technical classes, but at the same time got to explore classes in the engineering and music spaces as well. That freedom meant a lot to me.” 

That freedom allowed Hoefer to discover his career path.  

During his sophomore year, Hoefer started working with the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset system which he used to design spatial audio and video experiences for users.  

“I always felt like the experience was cool but nothing more,” he said. “I couldn't see it fitting in the real world.”

It was not until he went back home to San Jose, California, that he saw how his “cool” work at school could lead to a job. 

While in San Jose, Hoefer met with a family friend who ran a research lab at Google and some of his friend’s employees. 

By the end of my time with them, the employees thanked me because I had given them a bit of information about my project that directly related to an issue they were running into, which helped them solve it,” Hoefer said. “Sounds a bit trivial, but this was a big personal aha moment, there's a place for these sorts of things after all.”

After the visit, he started following the moonshot factory for the next several years, and when he graduated with his master’s degree last year, he was ready to pursue a job at X. 

“A few months ago, a recruiter gave me a call mentioning an opening that happened to be at X, and it was the perfect fit,” Hoefer said. 

He said the digital cultural program required hands-on projects in a collaborative space, which helped prepare him for this new career. 

“It was through these projects that deeper connections with peers were made, and I feel like that has been very helpful in the transition to my career, in a time where — especially in tech — the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration is at a high,” Hoefer said. “These experiences helped me reach out of my comfort zone a bit and taught me vital communication skills amongst peers and now co-workers.”

Hoefer also credits his success and his decision to continue his education to Associate Professor Garth Paine.

By far the most influential class I took was MDC311: Composing and Performing for Hybrid Ensembles with Dr. Garth Paine,” he said. “It was this class where I met Dr. Paine and learned more about the science of sound, as well as his Acoustic Ecology Lab.”

His work with Paine and the Acoustic Ecology Lab continued through the rest of his time at ASU and was “the sole reason” Hoefer decided to pursue his master's degree in digital culture.

Due to the nature and sensitivity of X projects, Hoefer said he is not able to share specifics about what kind of projects he would be working on, but he did want to share advice to prospective and current students as well as alumni.

“Firstly, in the academic space, make use of the resources that have been given to you at AME,” he said. “I can confidently say that it was one or two critically defining decisions to speak with my professors after class, and during office hours, that led to me discovering the long-term path I wanted to take. Digital culture has surrounded you with like-minded people — peers and professors alike. All it takes is introducing yourself!

“Secondly, in terms of landing your dream job: Don't let the fear of failure stop you from branching off to a new idea, new concept or a newly found passion. I know from firsthand that it's easy to stare at your resumé on paper and get caught up in your own head about what you have or haven't achieved, but I also think that vulnerability and a willingness to venture into the unknown is what employers are looking for in newly graduated employees, now more than ever before. Follow your passions, learn the concepts, build the things — and most importantly do good for others! The rest will come.”

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