Is it always awesome working at Google?
November 3, 2013 3:52 PM   Subscribe

"A job at Google. It's career heaven, right? How could a gig at the biggest, most ambitious tech company on the planet possibly be bad? Well, take a look at this Quora thread, which is being used by current and former Google employees to dish the dirt on working for Big G."
posted by SpacemanStix (59 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
It sounds like working at any other huge multinational company, but with massage chairs.
posted by chavenet at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


"They make you ride a Razor scooter everywhere. Even if it's just a few feet."

"The cafeteria food is just every flavor of Jelly Belly. That's it. There's no real food. I usually get pizza delivered."

"I suggested a new feature to my boss, and he took credit for it. Actually he said that he received it from extraterrestrials."

"Every day at noon they make everyone kneel and read this weird poem that they send you in an email. I think it's in Latin."

"The mandatory head and hand tattoos are painful, and my team partner got an infection."
posted by theodolite at 3:58 PM on November 3, 2013 [50 favorites]


It's too easy and everyone is too relaxed? Fuck it, sign me up.
posted by Artw at 4:00 PM on November 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


Sounds like a nicer version of most large corporations. I volunteer to share a cube with Artw.
posted by arcticseal at 4:03 PM on November 3, 2013


I got a job at Quora and it was ok except for the ... [please register with your SSN and fingerprints to read more]
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:08 PM on November 3, 2013 [34 favorites]


Sure, Google is fine, but what have they done for me lately?

*Googles "what has google done for me lately?"*

Just as I suspected: sweet fuck-all.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:08 PM on November 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


This would never have happened under Thulsa Doom's reign.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:10 PM on November 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sounds like a nicer version of most large corporations. I volunteer to share a cube with Artw.

Oh how little you know...

/packs copy of "HOW TO MAKE CODE WORK BY SWEARING AT IT" ready to go...
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on November 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


Here's to working with a bunch of halfwits and being the big fish in a small pond! ::clink::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:21 PM on November 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


How else are you supposed to make code work?
posted by wotsac at 4:21 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Swearing at the programmer.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:25 PM on November 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


That's why Product Managers make the big bucks.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:27 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, right.
posted by orme at 4:30 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ. Shut the fuuuuuuuuck up. Try working at a boring job where no one has the time to explain how to do things right, but plenty of time to yell about how you did everything wrong, any attempt to improve yourself is seen as taking away from the bottom line (because you're not dedicating all your brain power to the company) and where if you leave your lights on in the morning (in a ten-person shop) no-one bothers to let you know. Then get back to me and feel free to whine.

(thank god for stickshifts and inclined parking lots.)
posted by notsnot at 4:31 PM on November 3, 2013 [27 favorites]


(oh, all that, and have even LESS impact on improving the world.)
posted by notsnot at 4:32 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


/packs copy of "HOW TO MAKE CODE WORK BY SWEARING AT IT" ready to go...

Doesn't every computer engineer know that book by heart?
posted by aspo at 4:33 PM on November 3, 2013


arcticseal: "Sounds like a nicer version of most large corporations. I volunteer to share a cube with Artw."

Count me in with you two.
posted by Samizdata at 4:37 PM on November 3, 2013


How else are you supposed to make code work?

too many 0's and 1's in my checking account
posted by phaedon at 4:38 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every few weeks I meet up with my sister, who's currently an engineer at Google, and listen to her talk about her difficulties at her job. They are inevitable, with someone who's just entered the workforce, I think. One aspect that was special to her was the fact that she's still never worked with another woman engineer at a job... this is her second job out of college. Many Google engineers have as little context as she does, not that I have any more.

As for me, I think it is part of the nature of any complex system that it has at least a few derangements, and the difficulty of fixing these derangements scales not to the derangedness of the derangement but to the complexity of the system. The art of the computer scientist is in reducing the complexity of the system, but they don't get anything but practical training in fixing a derangement in a complex system. They get that practical debugging experience, in fixing a computer system. It is certainly better than only having theoretical training. You can ascertain if someone actually fixed a bug: you can judge their fix, sometimes it makes the system even better.

But debugging is very domain-specific, as far as fixing derangements in a complex system goes: the system can be picked apart and rendered less stateful, the state of the system can be printed out, the state of the system can be examined as time can be reversed and the system can be stepped through. None of these are true in systems of human beings, and that's what a corporation is. The success of the technological corporation shows that even this practical experience is often orders of magnitude better than what they teach in a business school for a leader of people, but it's not perfect.

Two ways out of that trap: create models of human systems which can be stopped, reversed, explicated exactly and exposed, or create abstract methods to fix systems in situ which are deranged. People have tried both methods, but I am not sanguine as to their success.
posted by curuinor at 4:40 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


If only there was some collective organization where these workers could mobilize and maybe bargain as a group for improved working conditions if it truly is so dire there.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:40 PM on November 3, 2013 [28 favorites]


Zeroth world problems.
posted by pmb at 4:40 PM on November 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


Is this some sort of weird viral vid-ish Pepsi Blue thing where the OP's job is to promote Google because even when it sucks it's kind of awesome? "You get paid well and the work isn't hard." Come the fuck on.

Google is a fucking asshole of a company (can't be a windows phone user without knowing what a bunch of bullying pieces of shit they are) and there are lots of reasons to despise it, but all I'm seeing here is "hey, I might want to work there."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:41 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of that line in Dune about a planet and its people that goes something like, "The price you pay for living in heaven is that you go soft."
posted by phaedon at 4:49 PM on November 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


ethnomethodologist: "Is this some sort of weird viral vid-ish Pepsi Blue thing where the OP's job is to promote Google because even when it sucks it's kind of awesome? "You get paid well and the work isn't hard." Come the fuck on.

Google is a fucking asshole of a company (can't be a windows phone user without knowing what a bunch of bullying pieces of shit they are) and there are lots of reasons to despise it, but all I'm seeing here is "hey, I might want to work there."
"

Howsabout considering the fact the vendor of the phone OS you chose has a record second to none with being a lock-in driven thug who goes to great lengths to permanently extinguish anything they see as a threat? (Not a Google shill, but I see some pot-calling going on here.)
posted by Samizdata at 4:49 PM on November 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


I just started a new job in a place with Google-like working conditions. It's unbelievably cushy but after having worked in both an aluminum foundry and a prison in my past, I spend too much time wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. Will I be called upon to give a blood sacrifice to Baal? Do they grind up babies in the back and use them to fuel the servers? Will they come for my first born son?

The American workplace is so fucked up that it's very hard to trust anyone.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:50 PM on November 3, 2013 [32 favorites]


I wonder if the day-to-day experience of working there is like the experience of actually using their products?

You show up on a Monday after slaving away at your desk for the YouTube team for three years. Wait, what? Your cubicle is gone? Were you fired?

Of course not! Don't worry, we love you! The Gmail team and the Glassholes needed a bit more space for their ball pits and massage chairs and decided to move the Youtube team over to Building B. So, you trudge over to some strange new building and try to swipe in. Your swipe card won't work here, silly! Now you just punch your phone number in the door entry keypad to enter. Oh, wait! You can't use a Google Voice number, use your cell phone number! And you're in!

So, where are the cubicles for YouTube? Well, YouTube is now on the AdWords floor. you wanted your own place? Well, don't worry, silly! Places are here too! And Latitude, News, Finance....

You try to set your lunch down. Oh no, dear, now we keep all our lunches in the communal AdWords fridge! Can you just hold on to your lunch? What? Don't worry, you'll love it, just take it out of the bag and pop the foods in the fridge and then everyone can see what you eat! There is a whiteboard to comment on everyone's meals! Can you keep your lunch at your desk? Why? And there aren't desks anymore. We're doing bean bag chairs and lap desks. On second thought, let's try moving YouTube over to the Videos building, and instead of entering a phone number let's do a retina scan and instead of lap desks we'll try futons, and don't look in the shuttered windows of the acquisitions cave or the empty Reader pole shed....
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 4:51 PM on November 3, 2013 [46 favorites]


Reminds me of that line in Dune about a planet and its people that goes something like, "The price you pay for living in heaven is that you go soft."

Nah, Caladan is where Microsoft is based.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interesting, what I've heard anecdotally is not like this at all. What I've heard here in Australia is that the organisation has many things in common with large tech companies (nepotism, oligarchy, hard to get anything done with right sponsorship etc), but also that as an organisation that's quite hostile to sane working arrangements; i.e. long hours are expected and de rigeur, lots of travel, doesn't encourage alternative work arrangements, very few part-timers and/or women - basically typical start-up mentality catering to people in their twenties and thirties that have no kids and not much of a life beyond work.

I've also heard numerous complaints regarding their fucking byzantine hiring processes and endless interviews. I know people that have been left on the hook for literally months before getting an offer. That, coupled with lack of visibility around work/life balance, undoubtedly costs them talent, I think.

Interesting to note in that Bezos article that was linked to here a few weeks ago, that for all their massage chairs and catering, Google's retention rate was only marginally better than Amazon's at about 1 year. Compared to IBM, for example, this is excruciatingly low.
posted by smoke at 4:55 PM on November 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


From everything I've heard Amazon's culture is extremely aggressive by comparison. Though I suspect with all these companies things are going to be different from department to department.
posted by Artw at 4:59 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


And now I'm also picturing the upper management on their yachts, and some new guy wandering into the Quiet Room as his middle manager is vibrating away into some trance staring at a puffer fish and he meekly says, "Um, I am going to try changing the entire way you log on to gmail and move all the menus into a tiny icon, and reposition everything. Is that ok?"

*Bwhhrrrrrrrrrrrrzzzrrrzzrr* [massage chair buzzing head of manager obscuring vision]

"Sorry, I don't mean to bother you, but is that ok? I know it fundamentally affects the way all our users interact with all our products, but I just thought it would look neat? If that is ok, just nod"

*Bwhhrrrrrrrrrrrrzzzrrrzzrr* [massage chair buzzing involuntarily wiggling head up and down]

"Thanks boss! I'll go flip it on now!"
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 5:01 PM on November 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


I just started a new job in a place with Google-like working conditions. It's unbelievably cushy but after having worked in both an aluminum foundry and a prison in my past, I spend too much time wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. Will I be called upon to give a blood sacrifice to Baal? Do they grind up babies in the back and use them to fuel the servers? Will they come for my first born son?

I know exactly what you mean. My current position is not as cushy as Google, but compared to the other jobs I've held (90 hour weeks under a sexually abusive chef, warehouse stocker, corrupt environmental testing company, etc) it is job heaven. We got free coffee! Free! I am almost a year in and still sure it's all going to come crashing down.
posted by schroedinger at 5:02 PM on November 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


I would love to have a tech-style salary, but I'm also very fond of my current work/life balance. We work less than 40 hours, flexible arrangements are allowed, there's plenty of leave, no expectation of weekend or afterhours work...

It would take a lot of massage chairs to make up for what I'd lose.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:17 PM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Massage chairs are overrated. Those Nazi assholes that Walter White took out had one.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 5:32 PM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just started a new job in a place with Google-like working conditions. It's unbelievably cushy but after having worked in both an aluminum foundry and a prison in my past, I spend too much time wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. Will I be called upon to give a blood sacrifice to Baal? Do they grind up babies in the back and use them to fuel the servers? Will they come for my first born son?

I know exactly what you mean. My current position is not as cushy as Google, but compared to the other jobs I've held (90 hour weeks under a sexually abusive chef, warehouse stocker, corrupt environmental testing company, etc) it is job heaven. We got free coffee! Free! I am almost a year in and still sure it's all going to come crashing down.


lol, this is also me at my first cushy job right now. The break room has a Keurig machine... and free k cups... and free food like, every other day... I'm being cultivated as an employee instead of threatened... can check phone whenever I wish... does not compute.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:28 PM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I work for myself alone. Sometimes I make myself really amazing lunches.... Sometimes I make myself chop down trees in my forest... But my office floor is cold in the winter... I should ask my boss for slippers...
posted by mrgroweler at 6:47 PM on November 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Too many great people, doing work that just doesn't matter, and they're being paid off not to care in an explicit effort to starve the rest of the valley of extraordinary talent.

This... has an oddly authentic ring.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:57 PM on November 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Can't get in the building without a g+ account.
posted by ctmf at 7:16 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Compared to IBM, for example, this is excruciatingly low.

The only way people leave IBM is in a coffin. It's nice that people feel comfortable there, but one can feel too comfortable.

We work less than 40 hours, flexible arrangements are allowed, there's plenty of leave, no expectation of weekend or afterhours work...

There are jobs at Google like this. There are jobs at Google that are like working at an unfunded startup. There are jobs at Google where you do the same thing every day. There are jobs at Google where every day is vastly different. Google has over 42,000 people. Compare this to 36,000 students at UC Berkeley - there are lazy students who coast by, there are students busting their asses every day. It's a big place.

It is true and somewhat lame that one of the biggest challenges of working at Google is that you work with really, really smart people. On the plus side they're also all really nice.

But it really is a pointless, navel-gazing thread to have outside the confines of Google. There are good jobs, there are shit jobs and sometimes they both happen at the same time. It's not all ball pits and nerf guns.
posted by GuyZero at 7:18 PM on November 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


they're being paid off not to care in an explicit effort to starve the rest of the valley of extraordinary talent.

If they could be paid to not give a shit, were they really extraordinary?
posted by GuyZero at 7:19 PM on November 3, 2013


What I've heard here in Australia

Life in a remote office is by definition different than life at the mother ship. Australia is a relative large satellite office, but it's still a satellite office.

I mean, you might as well say that Australia isn't like the US. Yeah, no kidding.
posted by GuyZero at 7:21 PM on November 3, 2013


"So, if you ask me whether it's worth working at Google - yes, it is; you'll learn a lot; is it worth to stay there? - no, it is bad for your karma, you may become one of them."

Wow. That's a hell of a statement.
posted by prepmonkey at 7:30 PM on November 3, 2013


Apparently he didn't learn to google up what karma actually means. :/
posted by GuyZero at 7:32 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google has over 42,000 people.

It is true and somewhat lame that one of the biggest challenges of working at Google is that you work with really, really smart people. On the plus side they're also all really nice.


Sorry, I must take issue with the third sentence here. Out of 42,000 people, they're all really nice...There's not one single asshole?

I'll bet there's an asshole. Just one.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:34 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Google is an ad company. They sell ads. Self driving cars, glass, solving death etc... it all reads like the efforts of the son of a wealthy ad tycoon desperately trying to seem more interesting than he really is. I really feel sorry whenever I see people wearing Google swag because - as you can see in these posts - you are dedicating your genius to something fundamentally dull.
posted by astrobiophysican at 7:35 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have a relative who works for Google--his company got bought by them. He's actually visiting Mountain View for a week. He doesn't talk much about it (apparently the one way to get canned from Google is to talk about Google), but I am told they have a nice cafeteria and encourage late hours. I doubt this is a problem for him, though, especially since his kids are out of the house and he's kind of a genius workaholic type. Either way, he seems to be doing quite well.

Though I have to say as a lame plebe who is worth jack squat, reading these complaints is a lot of "diamond shoes are too tight"-type stuff to me. Like "wah, I'm not self-actualized enough" or something. Hard for me to relate to, but then again, I am useless and not a programmer.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:38 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


you are dedicating your genius to something fundamentally dull.

If you are a systems design person, designing a system to serve hundred of thousands of queries per second is an inherent challenge regardless of what the heck those queries are for.

Besides, have you ever met a programmer? Ads are dull? Unlike routing IP packets or working on databases where people store payroll or retail transaction data? 99% of what people use computers for is dull enough to physically stun you.
posted by GuyZero at 7:40 PM on November 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


My beau's a Google Eng and loves it. He works normal hours. Also @astrobiophysican, as he will tell you, what goes into ads is a) fascinatingly complex from a engineering standpoint and b) insanely lucrative if you can get even a sliver of the pie.

It's an interesting contrast because despite my teasing- I work at a (very successful) forty person hardware company and funnily enough our jobs in terms of hours and workload, not that different. There's also a lot of free food (but no three meals a day).
posted by KernalM at 7:40 PM on November 3, 2013


I mean, you might as well say that Australia isn't like the US. Yeah, no kidding.

I was just sharing what colleagues have said to me; I was not trying to draw a comparison to head office, but they do work at Google, nonetheless and their experience is as valid as yours.

I think stuff like this is part of an inevitable backlash against the mythologising of Google's workplace that even went so far as to include a movie. Clearly, there are far, far worse places to work in the IT sector.

I will say that, here in Australia at least, they have a diversity problem, imho, and they are losing potential talent that needs to leave the office to pick up their kids, wants to work part-time, etc etc. There are lots of companies that are really hitting it on those metrics, but I find that "hot" employers have a tendency to lag (know someone who works at LinkedIn, it's the same story. The brand and/or pay is enough to get people, they don't need sweeteners).
posted by smoke at 8:00 PM on November 3, 2013


I stopped in the middle of the Google interview process because the attitude of the people involved annoyed me. They acted as if it were a privilege for me to interview with Google! and as if I should feel honored.

That's not how interviewing works: it's a negotiation between two parties. Either may find the other lacking. Google seemed to think that it was more of a magnanimous gesture: we deign to interview you! Be grateful!
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:11 PM on November 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


There are jobs at Google like this. There are jobs at Google that are like working at an unfunded startup. There are jobs at Google where you do the same thing every day. There are jobs at Google where every day is vastly different. Google has over 42,000 people. Compare this to 36,000 students at UC Berkeley - there are lazy students who coast by, there are students busting their asses every day. It's a big place.

This rings true for me. For any company of a certain size, there's gonna be good jobs and there's gonna be shit jobs. For example, I worked at [WELL KNOWN SICKENINGLY SUCCESSFUL TECH COMPANY] and hated every minute of it. This is a company that's thought to be one of the leading lights in the industry. Like, I still get recruiterspam because of that job, even though I work in a completely different sector of the industry now. Without a doubt, there's interesting work being done there, but I didn't get to do any of it. Granted, my team had a pretty boring mission, and I should have known that going into it, but things didn't need to be nearly as bad as they were, and the reasons for it sucking were largely organizational.

To choose another example, I have two friends who worked for [TROUBLED, YET RIDICULOUSLY SUCCESSFUL TECH BEHEMOTH]. One of them worked on the [FORMERLY IMPORTANT PRODUCT] team, and his stories essentially describe one of the greatest derelictions of duty on the part of a tech company I'd ever heard. Obviously, he's no longer with the company. My other friend got to work on some really cool projects and is now the company's chief expert in a well-known technology. He regularly travels around the world on the company dime and gives talks at important conferences. He obviously loves his job. Going into it, could either of my friends have known what they were in for? Probably not. When my one friend joined the [FORMERLY IMPORTANT PRODUCT] team, it was one of the most high-profile teams at the company. Likewise, my other friend joined the company as a QA, and wasn't even a full dev until he'd been with the company like 4 years.

The part that seems Google-specific in this story is the absolute embarrassment of talent at their disposal. This I absolutely believe. They only hire people who can pass their sadistic hiring gauntlet, and yet ... you always need someone to sweep the floors. I'm sure there are people at Google with jobs similar to my old job at [WELL KNOWN SICKENINGLY SUCCESSFUL TECH COMPANY]. It can be really dispiriting, because you have this job that you know others would kill for, you've got plenty of money and security, and yet you are bored out of your goddamn mind. It really took a toll on me. At a certain point, I seriously considered putting all my belongings in storage, relocating to a sunny, cheap foreign locale, and trying to bootstrap a startup, all in the interests of rekindling my once-robust love of computer programming.

So fucking glad I left that job. It was killing me.
posted by evil otto at 10:11 PM on November 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is a Business Insider article based off of responses from a Quora thread. Is the internet so devoid of accounts from Googlers and Xooglers that out knwoledge of a global corporation composed of tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of teams is based on this?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:13 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


We work less than 40 hours, flexible arrangements are allowed, there's plenty of leave, no expectation of weekend or afterhours work...

There are jobs at Google like this.


Are there really a significant percentage of jobs at Google that have employment contracts that define the work week as under 40 hours (and are supported in that by informal expectations as well)? Because that's not the impression I get, but I've never worked there.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:53 AM on November 4, 2013


I'm reminded of academics who almost break their arms patting themselves on the back at how they are "first rate". Being good at CS and solving interview puzzles does not make you a genius. it means you are clever.
posted by thelonius at 5:52 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


but also that as an organisation that's quite hostile to sane working arrangements; i.e. long hours are expected and de rigeur, lots of travel, doesn't encourage alternative work arrangements, very few part-timers and/or women - basically typical start-up mentality catering to people in their twenties and thirties that have no kids and not much of a life beyond work.

As GuyZero said, this only describes some jobs. Plenty of jobs with 40-50 hr weeks (I consider 50 reasonable enough in the tech industry, especially given the amount of pay and benefits), for engineers and otherwise. If you're working on a small team on Super Secret New Thing with an aggressive deadline, you're basically at a mini-startup. If you're working on an established product its rarely like that.

Work-life balance there is generally pretty good I think, although it also depends on your personality --- believe it or not, but I know a lot of people who work much much more than they have to, not because they're worried about their job or will get paid more, but because they just want to do that all the time. There are a surprising amount of such people, which I think makes the balance issue looks worse than it is if you don't want that kind of life.

You're probably not going to find a 30 hr a week job where you can set what days of the week you want, sure. But it's not all 60-80 hr work weeks where you're glued to your phone/laptop 24/7, either, in fact I am pretty sure thats a minority (although a visible one and over represented at the top of the org for obvious reasons -- especially since so much of the top of the org is only working because they want to, not for any financial necessity).
posted by wildcrdj at 10:16 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


BlueHorse: " Google has over 42,000 people.

It is true and somewhat lame that one of the biggest challenges of working at Google is that you work with really, really smart people. On the plus side they're also all really nice.


Sorry, I must take issue with the third sentence here. Out of 42,000 people, they're all really nice...There's not one single asshole?

I'll bet there's an asshole. Just one.
"

I need a job. Think they might hire me for that?
posted by Samizdata at 2:57 PM on November 4, 2013


jenfullmoon: "Though I have to say as a lame plebe who is worth jack squat, reading these complaints is a lot of "diamond shoes are too tight"-type stuff to me. Like "wah, I'm not self-actualized enough" or something. Hard for me to relate to, but then again, I am useless and not a programmer."

I hope you don't really feel that way about yourself. You don't have to be a programmer to be useful. I know a lot of programmers who are useless. Some days, I'm one of them.

It's not that my diamond shoes are too tight. I just fear having them taken away. After years of places that are either hot, dirty, dangerous or are on ruthless cost-cutting campaigns, I don't want to lose it. The hard thing about working with really smart people for me is not being the smartest person in the room anymore, along with an overwhelming feeling of imposter syndrome that I will be found out for the charlatan I am. I'm not really a charlatan, but it's a feeling that's hard to shake. Maybe it's just me.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:41 PM on November 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not that my diamond shoes are too tight. I just fear having them taken away. After years of places that are either hot, dirty, dangerous or are on ruthless cost-cutting campaigns, I don't want to lose it. The hard thing about working with really smart people for me is not being the smartest person in the room anymore, along with an overwhelming feeling of imposter syndrome that I will be found out for the charlatan I am. I'm not really a charlatan, but it's a feeling that's hard to shake. Maybe it's just me.

Nah man, that's ex-poor syndrome.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:25 PM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are there really a significant percentage of jobs at Google that have employment contracts that define the work week as under 40 hours (and are supported in that by informal expectations as well)? Because that's not the impression I get, but I've never worked there.

I know two people I think. A significant percentage? No. But they exist. There are apparently tons of contractors who have who knows what contracts. I don't know any contractors though.

Also remember that everyone thinks of Google as this gigantic frat house of programmers, but it's only around half developers. There are also a lot of accountant and sales people and people like that. Google brought all it's sales people from around the world to a conference last year and if you walked into the party the first night you would not have guessed it was all Google employees. These people work the same hours as any accountant you'd find wherever.
posted by GuyZero at 6:29 PM on November 4, 2013


jenfullmoon: "Though I have to say as a lame plebe who is worth jack squat, reading these complaints is a lot of "diamond shoes are too tight"-type stuff to me. Like "wah, I'm not self-actualized enough" or something."

So someone asks a question along the lines of "This thing that a lot of people say is really awesome can't be perfect, tell me what's the worst thing about it?" and how are people supposed to respond? Be unhelpful and not answer? Be unhelpful and lie and say "No, it's perfect, there's no downside?"

I currently work for Google. I've been here for just over a year, and for the most part it's exactly what you've heard. The work is challenging, the offices are great, the food is wonderful, the compensation is generous, etc. It's wonderful, I enjoy it a lot, and I could probably call it one of the two best jobs I've ever had. But it's not perfect. Some of what the Quora thread goes into strikes me as true, but other parts strike me as maybe assuming that personal experience is universal (for instance, my middle managers are fantastic, and pretty much everyone I've ever interacted with has been willing to go out of their way to explain anything to me, no matter how simple). Google is like a hundred small companies that share office space and Technical Infrastructure, so there's a lot of variety in the sorts of people you'll deal with and the way that projects are run.

The biggest problem is a technical one, and it's pretty widely accepted within Engineering. Say you need to do something fairly simple, like store a few Terabytes of data that you're going to serve to users. At a small company, the challenge would be: do we have a machine with the spare capacity, are they in the right place, can we afford the hardware, etc. (I've worked for companies as small as ~25, so I've dealt with this plenty.)

At Google, you don't worry about that. The storage is not a problem, we have the disk capacity. But you don't just put files on a disk, you use a storage API. And there's not just one storage API, there's several. Option A is well-supported, is very fast, but is sort of in beta and only hosted in datacenters in the US. Option B is also very good, and global, and doesn't support individual files bigger than 2MB. Option C seems wonderful, has tons of documentation, and has lots of sample code in the codebase, but it's deprecated and will go away at the end of the year. Option D only has a C++ API, so if you're doing things in Python or in Go, you have to jump through a number of extra hoops. And so forth.

Yes, this is pretty minor. Yes, I feel sorta like a jerk complaining about working somewhere wonderful. But, hey, if someone asks what's the worst thing about your diamond shoes, I feel like being honest is a better response than lying and saying they're perfect, there's nothing wrong with them, so suck it.
posted by Plutor at 6:02 AM on November 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


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