Lunchtime Reading: A Look at the Life of a Googler

Lunchtime Reading: A Look at the Life of a Googler

Free food. Pool tables.  Video game rooms. The rumored benefits of working as a Google employee sound too good to be true, but it turns out that most of the rumors are actually pretty accurate.

Last week, user “IAmAGoogler” started an AMA on Reddit, a popular social news website. For the uninformed, AMAs are Reddit’s version of question-and-answer sessions, and they generally offer an insightful look into a person of interest’s life and experiences (unless you’re Woody Harrelson’s public relations agent). In this AMA, Redditors were given a first-hand look at the life and workplace of a Googler from the Kirkland, Washington campus.

Mashable provided a sampling of some of IAmAGoogler’s responses to popular questions.

IAmA Google employee. AMAA.

SinSha: What was the application process like? What does Google look for in an employee?

My application process started with an internship, which involved submitting a resume and passing two phone interviews. From the internship I did a “conversion”, which involved several more interviews plus the feedback from my internship.

If you want to know what Google is looking for, I suggest you read Steve Yegge’s blog entry.

Chachbag: Do you solve most of your problems at work by Googling them?

A surprising number. It’s kind of scary. 🙂

JayP812: Why do so many of the logo doodles honor little-known artists? Just a trend I noticed.

Who do you think makes the doodles?

danheinz: Do you use google+ or Facebook more often?

G+. I don’t use Facebook any more. The signal/noise ratio got too low for me.

But that’s a personal choice of mine and I can see why others might not make the same one. The stuff I share gets to the people I want to share it with, and that’s what is important to me. shrug

chiisana: Some people, myself included, feels that Google, the company, is making a huge mistake pushing Google Plus into people’s faces right now. And instead of becoming relevant and or remotely near successful, it is actually hurting Google’s public image. What are your thoughts on Google Plus project, and the marketing approach taken by the company?

Would you complain that Google is pushing Google into people’s faces? Don’t think of Google+ as the page at It’s a common social layer for all of Google. Once you realize this, you’ll see why it might feel like it’s being “pushed in your face”. How many Google products do you use that are social in any way (i.e. involve relationships with other people)? I’ve stated above why I think having that common social layer is important/good.

As for the marketing approach, I don’t really have any comment since I don’t really know anything about it 😛

GrinningPariah: As someone who works for Microsoft, “sup”. 😛 Always interesting to see how the other side lives. From what I heard, you guys can expect about the same pay, better perks, but to work harder for them. Which brings me to my first question!

Is it considered taboo in Google culture to go home at 5pm, like it is a lot of places in the software industry lately?

Also, do you “drink the kool aide” and get behind Google products even when they are not so well received? As a follow up, how do you feel about G+?

And finally, what do you think of other company’s efforts to step to Google?

I don’t think it’s taboo to go home at 5. I sometimes go home much earlier. My personal policy is that if I realize I am being entirely ineffective (say, I’m overly tired or having a bad day, or just not in the groove), I won’t waste my or Google’s time by sitting and staring at my workstation – I go home. On the days where I’m in the groove and making great progress, I’ll keep working from home in the evenings (because I want to).

I don’t usually personally promote products I’m not actually excited about. I actually really like G+ for what it is. Products have to be social these days, because the internet and the web is about people now, not just documents. So without G+, all Google products would have to either have no social features, or each have separate friend lists. Neither of those is acceptable.

Competition is good. I’m a user too, remember? One of the awesome things about the web is that the hurdles for competition are so low, so everyone keeps everyone else on their toes. Ultimately we wind up with better products.

liucifer: What’s the dress code like?

I don’t think we have one. I think it falls under the other codes, primarily “don’t be a jackass”.

But I’ve seen folks in suits, kilts, pajamas, sweats, etc.

Penroze: How many hours a week do you work?

How many hours a week does the typical Googler work?
Years ago I heard they even put software problems on the bathroom stalls. Is this still true?

I don’t know how many hours a week I work. I think it varies. But probably around 40, on average. More when I’m more excited about work. Less when I’m not.

I don’t know about the typical Googler, but we try hard to get people to strike a good work/life balance.

I haven’t seen software problems, but we do post all kinds of useful advice. Sometimes it’s advice about software practices like unit testing. There’s one that’s been there for a while now trying to tell me all about what the liver does.

choompaloompa: What is the use of Google products like inside Google, like would it be acceptable to submit a report or document using Docs or have a professional long distance meeting over a hangout?

Extensive. If anyone submitted a report or doc with something other than Docs, they’d get funny looks and probably get mocked mercilessly 😉 We use hangouts all the time. We really believe in “eating our own dogfood”.

globalsunshine:Is it true that Google (and most software companies) don’t like older people? It seems like there is only a small population of software engineers over the age of 40. Do you know what happens to them or is this just a myth?

Google actually has an internal group just for older folks (along with all sorts of other demographics). From what I understand, they do everything they can to prevent anyone from being discriminated against due to age. But I don’t work for HR so I can’t give you a very detailed answer.

hoteljuliet: How much “brainstorming” time do you get in a day?

It varies a lot depending on what phase of a project I’m in. For a while last year, I spend like 90% of my time brainstorming. Today I spent 0%, since I was just trying to get some code checked in.

choompaloompa: Does anyone work from home or is it compulsory to work at the office?

Tons of people work from home. If you can do your job, there’s no real requirement on where you are. Of course, there are advantages to being in the office – face to face time with coworkers, being able to be in a meeting in person, etc. But there’s no requirement that you be in the office at any time.

themailmanC: How encouraged is daytime (or anytime) napping?

There are napping pods specifically designed for that purpose! Many offices also have quiet rooms where you can go recline way back in a comfy chair and nap.

shakensunshine: That sounds really awesome. I wish my office had that. How comfortable are those napping pods?

I don’t use them. I sleep in the massage chairs 😉

Nap pods? Massage chairs?! Whatever, Google. Whatever.

Scott Kaufmann
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Scott is Partner at Lucid Agency and a lover of all things technology, marketing, investing and entrepreneurship. Scott volunteers on the board of the Denver-based Nonprofit Celebrate EDU and as a mentor for SeedSpot (a Phoenix-based social startup incubator).

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