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Working at Google: Amazing Perks, High Pay and a Chance to Be ‘Googley’

Topics: Career Profiles
working at Google
Courtesy of Google

Want to work at Google? You can expect things to be different right from the start. Google’s hiring process is famously, well, Googley, focusing on cultural fit as well as expertise and problem-solving ability.

“In my case, I went through five interviews focused on leadership, role-related knowledge, problem solving, and ‘Googleyness,’” said Mayra Felix, a strategic program manager for the Americas with Google’s Global Account Management team, in an interview with Business Insider. “I was asked a series of analytical and sales-related ‘fire drills’ based on real business cases. It was challenging, but they were really the type of questions I deal with on a daily basis, so I think it was great preparation for my current role.”

Once you’re in, onboarding is similarly comprehensive. At Quora, Vignesh Venkat, a software engineer at Google, explained the process (as of 2013):

As a Noogler (New + Googler = Noogler), your first week and half will be spent on orientation. You’ll learn various things about how your life is going to be in Google. That includes both technical stuff like build systems, code review process, etc. as well as non-technical stuff like how you can make the most out of all the personal development stuff going on in Google (gym, etc.). You’ll also get your first Google swag by the end of your first week’s orientation (a Noogler T-Shirt and a Cap 🙂 ). Though orientation gives you a good high-level overview of how your technical workflow will be, the exact detail depends upon the team/project you are going to be in (like Chrome for example does not use Google’s internal build/code review system, as it is an open-source project).

Venkat says that it can take “a good amount of time before everything becomes routine and you start writing production level code. There is no expectation as such on when this would happen, as it varies highly from team to team.” So, if you’re getting ready for your new job at Google, don’t fret if it takes a while to get down to the business of doing actual work.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Working at Google

Google is well known for its employee perks, which include free meals at its multiple cafeterias, cafes and micro-kitchens, on-site gyms and healthcare services, massage therapists and tuition reimbursement, as well as parental leave and retirement savings plans. Google also offers an unusually generous death benefit.

Paul Cowan, a site reliability manager at Google, explained:

If a Googler dies, all their stock vests immediately, and on top of the (not atypical, I think?) life insurance payout, their surviving spouse continues to get half of the Googler’s salary for the next 10 years. And there’s an additional $1,000/month benefit for any of the Googler’s children.

When I mentioned this benefit to my wife, she cried. She actually cried that the company would do that for her if something happened to me.

The best part? So far, she hasn’t poisoned me! It must be love!

As for the experience of working at Google, the general consensus seems to be that it’s challenging, but offers a lot of benefits — not least of which is the chance to work with some of the best people in the business.

Per Sam Rose, a site reliability engineer at Google:

Working at Google is hard. In the first few weeks I went home every day with the beginnings of a monster headache. I was ingesting information at a rate I had not previously experienced and it took a while to get up to scratch.

Through all of this, I was never encouraged to work late. I put a large amount of importance on work-life balance. Everyone was supportive of my incessant questioning and the person who had been assigned as my buddy would ask me how I was doing on a regular basis.

I was also never pressured to get things done on an unreasonable deadline, and nobody made me feel bad about not knowing things. It was more about exposing me to as much of the infrastructure as possible and encouraging me to ask more questions.

Overall, he said, he’s “very happy” at the company: “It’s an empowering organization that cares about its staff and treats them well.”

Ex-Googler Vijay Gill stressed the high caliber of the talent on staff:

The best thing about Google is that (at least in engineering and ops) the vast majority of folks you work with are excellent in their own right. If you are used to being a big fish in a small pond, you will quickly discover that in here you will be swimming with sharks.

This is not always a good thing for some people: For example, folks who are used to being top talent sometimes cannot deal with the fact that here they may be mid-pack.

Of course, working at Google isn’t for everyone. Michael Leggett, who was the design lead on Gmail from 2007 to 2012, said in 2010:

I find that the people that aren’t happy at Google are those that crave more structure or guidance. I’ve also seen people in the UX team get burned out on being constantly questioned instead of just trusted. Personally, I like this aspect of my job. I think I have to be a good enough designer to not only come up with a great UX… I have to also be good enough to help everyone on the team see it is great.

Our Google Survey Results

PayScale’s report, Tech Companies Compared, evaluated 52 top tech employers to see how employees rate them in terms of compensation, satisfaction with their employer, job meaning, job stress, tenure and intent to leave. Google comes out near the top for most metrics.

Fourth in employer satisfaction, Google boasts workers who give it high marks 81 percent of the time. The company also ties for ninth for high job meaning, with 70 percent of Googlers saying that their work makes the world a better place.

Job stress, on the other hand, is relatively low at 48 percent; only seven other companies had fewer employees reporting high stress. That might be partly why only 37 percent of Googlers said they planned to leave their job in the next six months.

Of course, pay doesn’t hurt, either: Google tied for sixth for the highest early-career median pay ($103,000). By mid-career, employees at Google can expect median pay of $151,000, making them No. 11 in that ranking.

Bottom line, Google boasts solid pay and amazing benefits, plus the chance to work with some of the most talented people in tech. Which is why many Googlers say that the biggest benefit of working at Google is working at Google.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you work at Google? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or talk to us on Twitter.

Quora responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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