At Google, it depends on your personality. I believe this applies to any of the large Silicon Valley companies but obviously take this with a grain of salt because I obviously only worked at the one.
In school for CS Google was the pinnacle of what you wanted to do and where you wanted to work. Not much else crossed my mind as far as desired future employment.
When the opportunity arose to get in front of a bunch of Googlers, I dedicated 110% of my resources to make sure I earned a spot. From that opportunity, I landed the job. 3 months starting as a contractor turned into 6. Then into 12. Eventually, I was fired because I said Hilary Clinton was a cunt behind closed doors with two guys I worked with on a daily basis, but there were power and control dynamics at play.
Had I not had a potty mouth I’m pretty sure I still could have been working there. For the last half of my approximately 1.3 years working with them, I worked remote from Tallahassee, FL as my wife was still in school.
Pay was great, food was beyond excellent and all free. The free gym classes were good. The offices were clean and modern and always interesting. The fact that my boss let me work whenever I wanted was cool. The work reaches hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps more on Googles scale. The horizontal opportunities, in a future sense after my contract was taken care of, seemed limitless if you could get passed a phone screen (which I couldn’t and still probably can’t because I don’t give a fuck about algorithms and puzzle problems). Riding my bike to work in the beautiful 75 degree weather every morning was great.
Anyway, lots of positives.
I was also young and naive. I still am. What I learned there was that, in order to make an impact, Google requires that you replace your life, family, and anything in the side for Google.
There was one particular story where this was really driven home for me. I was nearing the end of the time I was willing to be apart from my wife and I was trying to get a remote position as a Develop Advocate for Firebase. I had the Interview set up already and had a project I’d created to demonstrate how i think and what I’d help others understand, etc. the hiring manager worked in my office, so I set up a quick lunch chat to see if it would be possible to work something out in a remote sense.
Long story short, he told me that “Sometimes you have to choose between work and your family” and it was at that moment i knew. The reason they make it so cushy is to pull the wool over the sheep’s eyes. It’s not human or natural to work as much as you need to to earn recognition at Google.
Now, you can choose to read this in a few different ways.
One: I wasn’t even a real employee, I didn’t know what I was talking about.
I’ll assure you, I worked just as hard as my fellow Googlers, I just wasn’t allowed my monthly free massage or access to the weekly open mic meetings with C Levels. (I’m still bummed about that).
Two: You certainly like to complain a lot and take things for granted. There are tons of people that would kill for that position and you want ahead and messed it up by acting immaturely and saying bad words.
Honestly, fair enough. I’m of the mind that we should be able to be ourselves and just because we’re in a box labeled work (so long as we effectively get our work done) we shouldn’t worry about talking like we talk.
Three: hopefully the way I envisioned.
Lots of people’s end all be all through their CS experience is to work at a big tech company just because of all the things I’ve described above. I want this to serve as an example of why you might want to think twice before making that you’re penultimate goal.
Oh and last tidbit I didn’t even write about. There were times when I took the initiative to get my work done and then reach out to other teams to see what other cool stuff I could help with. The particular example was wanting to help the Android Room team with documentation and tutorials early on before anyone externally knew about the project. Rather than praised for taking initiative, I was told by my manager they were disappointed in me for not discussing with her first. That said, they were one of the coolest managers I’ve ever had. That moment still confuses me. If anyone reads this and wants more details I could write another post.