1 Year at Google Already?!?!

Hard to believe one year ago today I was starting orientation in NYC Google office. What a wild ride it has been.

People ask me lots of things about working at Google – and to be honest a year in I still feel like I’m the lucky dog who caught the car. But I figure a little post might help articulate some of the awesome and challenging things I’ve run into this year.


Awesome:

  • Imagine the best people you’ve ever worked with in your career – now imagine the entire company is made up of those people. Thoughtful, super smart, hard working and so far really nice.
  • Free food – and it is pretty darned good! My first day on the job I had prime rib for lunch. That is hard to beat.
  • Free coffee – like there are baristas on a bunch of the campuses, and coffee maker machines that make lattes on pretty much every floor
  • Micro-Kitchens – snacks, coffee, water, etc, always within a short walk of wherever you plop down
  • 60 minutes of massages on site each year!
  • Great engineering culture . Always focused on gathering data to back up assertions – upbeat, but with an engineers skepticism for all the things
  • Nice dev hardware – I have a Macbook pro and a Pixelbook and a 4k 32″ monitor. They have loaner laptops when u need a spare you can just grab off a rack and log into.
  • Chromebooks – no seriously. I can do like 99% of my job from a pixelbook. I’m kinda amazed, but I can code in the cloud on the rare occasion I need to code. My life is crazy easy to switch computers now. I grab the machine that fits my situation and go.
  • Amazing tech to work with and provide customers – GCP still amazes me at times. Things like BigQuery, Cloud Spanner, and Anthos are just the best in their category and kinda like tech-magic. And the datacenter network, and systems management behind it all is simply amazing.
  • Strong focus on diversity and inclusion of all people in all situations. It isn’t perfect in implementation by any means, but it is constantly trying to improve, which is pretty great IMO. Everyone here will go out of their way to make an accommodation for you for any reason. Kinda important when you have been dealing with depression and going thru a divorce like I have been this last 8ish months.
  • Amazing Customers – I get the opportunity to talk to some really really cool companies doing some cool stuff, and help them grow and expand into the cloud while modernizing and transforming their culture internally. They are the biggest reason I enjoy getting up each morning.

Challenges

  • Hard to work at a company with a focus on relentless pursuing excellence, and filled with top talent, while you are dealing w/ depression and going thru a divorce. No matter how accommodating and understanding your bosses are, there is no where to hide, and no way to coast and ride out the tough times. I’ve been super lucky to have understanding bosses and coworkers, but it takes its toll on me knowing I’m not 100% living up to my potential in the organization. In past jobs I’ve been able to ride out a depression spell with at worst a minor bump in my otherwise good performance reviews year-over-year. Much harder at a company like Google, and doesn’t help you get out of the downward cycle. I’ve been learning a ton about myself and new strategies for building myself up in the midst of this – but there are rough days for sure, where I feel like I’m letting someone down no matter how hard I try. This is the most true here of anywhere I’ve worked in my career so far.
  • You have to self-promote inside the company to feel like you are keeping up. It is kinda the norm, because we celebrate a lot of the wins and personal achievements, and I like that. But for an upper-midwest preachers kid it is always hard tooting my own horn, or asking people to toot a horn for me. But that is the culture inside the company (to celebrate wins – not to be a arrogant in your self promotion)
  • Sales is harder than I thought it would be. Coming from consulting I knew I would have a learning curve, but it was steeper than I thought it would be. Some of that I’m sure is my life situation, but generally speaking Sales is trickier than I thought. And the pace is even faster than I imagined it would be vs. consulting. One of my key learnings, and a hard thing to get over coming from consulting, is not being the expert in everything. So instead of researching answers to questions I don’t know like I used to, I do a quick search for an answer, and then focus on finding specialists to help and speed of response. I’m used to having more time and needing to respond myself, so this has been a big change in how I intuitively interact w/ customers.
  • Working remote at Google is oddly out of sync w/ the company culture. Google is an office culture – believe it or not. You are required to work out of an office most of the time. You can work remotely or from home part of the week if you normally work out of an office, so I’m talking more about being 100% remote employee. To have a completely remote designation, like the folks in MN do, is far outside the norm, except in sales. You miss a lot of the goodness of being in an office being remote (like the free food, and tech support), including the day-to-day people interaction. Being an extrovert this has been tough for me on top of the deficit just in terms of how office-centric Google’s overall culture is. I try to be in Chicago almost every month for at least a couple days to help offset that. Since I started regularly taking those trips it has helped a ton. I still haven’t used my massage minutes when I go tho – I always forget to book ahead so I can line up my trips to Chicago w/ the therapists on site there.
  • Things change a lot – and that is coming from someone who likes change. None of the changes have been a huge issue for me – but sometimes with the growth of Cloud (in general and inside Google) it feels like all you can do is hold on and accept that 6 months from now, things are probably going to be different. I kinda like it honestly – but it sometimes makes keeping procedures and product features straight in my head particularly challenging.

So, overall, I love it. Plan to stay for as long as I foreseeably can. It is basically where I’ve wanted to work my whole life and I couldn’t be happier being here now that I’ve settled in.

Hopefully when my personal life settles I’ll be able to learn how to excel at this job. For now, I’m loving all the learning and growing, and being challenged just about every day to be a little better by great coworkers, bosses, and customers.