For many Computer Science and Engineering grads, landing a job at a top Silicon Valley company like Google is a dream come true. And given the fierce competition amongst tech firms for top-tier tech talent, companies like Google have become well-known for draping employees with more amenities than one can keep track of.
From free laundry and free lunch to massages, daycare services and in-office slides, Google is perhaps the company that provides its employees with the best perks in the business. But as the old adage goes, all that glitters is not gold. Truth is, Google may be the place to be when it comes to office niceties, but that doesn’t always translate into an enjoyable working environment.
Specifically, over the years we’ve heard a number of stories from current and ex-Googlers who have said that there’s only so much interesting work to go around at Google. In other words, Google’s rigorous interview process ensures that it gets the top tech minds in the world, but sometimes those employees are left with directives that fall far below their interest and skill level. Which is to say, Google for some isn’t a glamorous mind expanding work environment. On the contrary, some Google employees find their jobs downright monotonous.
Touching on this topic in greater detail, a recent Quora thread asked current and former Googler’s what the downsides are to working at Google. As you might expect, many of the answers are illuminating and rather surprising.
A few of the more interesting answers are below.
There are simply too many people and not enough interesting tasks yet they’re still hiring. The office space is so crammed now that it is suffocating. The layout is also mostly open office. It is distracting and detrimental to coders’ concentrations and productivity. See Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace. Then there’s the “free” food that everyone talks about. At the risk of sounding like a typical self-entitled Googler, food has been getting worse and worse by the day. 10 years ago we used to get prime ribs, sushi, freshly made rolls, fresh coconuts, even at the so-so Charlie’s.
Now, we’ll discuss the more serious problems at Google. There’s a joke that, as a software engineer, the most challenging task at Google is the interview process. After you are in the program, you will need to use very little computer science. The reason is that some of the most difficult problems are already solved. GFS, GFE, BigTable, Spanner, MR, Borg, Monarch, yadda yadda. These big problems are already solved by the elite 0.1% like Jeff Dean, and the rest of the peons exist for the purpose of gluing pieces here and there. And when they’re not gluing code, they’re just maintaining existing code by rewriting the code over and over again, switching from one old deprecated protobuf or API to a newer one. It is repetitive, and boring, and sadly, most of the work at Google, is not exactly exciting.
To the point of Google not having enough interesting work to go around, the end result is that the workplace up at Mountain View can quickly become a hyper-competitive environment as employees vie for morsels of challenging work that can help them rise up through the ranks.
Another Googler on the thread echoes the sentiment that most employees there are probably over qualified for what they end up doing at Google. What’s more, apparently many new hires at Google don’t even know what type of projects they’ll be working on when hired.
Make sure to hit the source link below for the full rundown on what working at Google is really like, at least for some employees.