Google Employment: Real Life At The Googleplex

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For the better part of a decade, Google has been one of the most desirable employers in the country. The company has become such a status symbol for young jobseekers that entire Hollywood movies have been built around the absurd lengths people might go through to score a job at the tech company. But the exciting start-up charm of the company’s early years has given way to its current behemoth status, and the reality of working at the Googleplex in Santa Clara County, California has changed accordingly.

Because Google has grown so large, the opportunities at the company have expanded, but the Googleplex is still most attractive to techies, and it should come as no surprise that it’s overflowing with software engineers. But in addition to the engineers, of which there are literally thousands scattered around the world, Google needs professionals of every kind of course. Research scientists at the company help break new ground on cutting edge products, lawyers fill jobs like corporate counsel, and top marketing candidates hold down communications positions. Other attractive jobs at the company might include titles like staff engineer, product manager, or a variety of management roles.

So, what’s it like to actually work for Google? And why is it still such a dream job for millennials?

While things aren’t perfect at the search-engine giant, it’s worth starting with the fact that Google has topped Fortune’s “100 Best Companies To Work For” list six times in nine appearances, and it’s noticeably at No. 1 in 2015 again. On paper, the reasons are obvious: the company is raking in money, growing at a fast rate (Google added more than 4,500 full-time jobs last year), and offers one of the most coveted campus workplaces in the country. Perhaps more importantly, Google has the unparalleled allure of developing some of the coolest products around, and there’s no doubt an attraction to work at the type of company that develops self-driving cars and your everyday email portal.

But maybe there’s reason to be a little skeptical too. All the money and accolades attract top talent for a reason, and Google has quickly built a reputation as one of the hardest places to get into. And for that reason, the place is crowded with some of the most outstanding young people in the world, which has turned it into a pretty tough environment for some workers. A couple years ago, Business Insider compiled some of the most scathing criticisms of the company from former employers published online, and many of the complaints described a company full of grossly overqualified employees. “The worst part of working at Google, for many people, is that they’re overqualified for their job,” one former or current employee wrote. “There are students from top 10 colleges who are providing tech support for Google’s ads products, or manually taking down flagged content from YouTube, or writing basic code to A|B test the color of a button on a site,” another confirmed.

Some reviews on Glassdoor seem to hint at similar issues, and others. One reviewer complained that the company “[discriminates]by schools” with regard to pay, suggesting that a prestigious degree is the path to a higher salary at the company. Plenty of reviewers harped on what they saw as widespread management issues, like “weird politics,” poor scheduling, and even outright disrespect from higher-ups.

Of course, Glassdoor also offers plenty of examples to the contrary. The most recent review for the company on the site commends a casual work environment, but noticeably also makes mention of some management issues as well. Another reviewer highlighted some of the extra perks, like “aaaaaamazing holiday parties” and “overnight ski trips to Vermont.” The same reviewer offered more professional insights into the workplace as well, noting that the culture is competitive but gratifying. In that way, Google isn’t so different from many other Silicon Valley employers. And whether or not it’s a fit for you might have more to do with some of these abstract qualities than the cool extras. Either way, there’s no doubt that Google is attracting millennials in droves, but the reality of Google employment might make some of us think twice about trying to score a job.

 

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Jay is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and music journalist.

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