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Insiders reveal the worst things about working for Google

What Is Working At Google Like

Google is always ranked as one of the top places to work in the United States. However, that doesn’t mean that everything about working there is wonderful. In a popular Quora thread, some current and former Googlers have listed some of the biggest drawbacks to their jobs and a lot of them revolve around the competitive pressure that comes from working with so many smart and talented people.

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Ex-Googler Dmitry Belenko writes that he had a hard time accepting the fact that he was no longer a big fish in a small pond and that he was no longer the best at everything once he started working for Google:

The overarching disadvantage is that your ego will be bruised quite thoroughly. Google hires some amazing people, and until you realize that you can’t be amazing at everything, you will feel like an imposter. Then you’ll find your own niche (or not), and you’ll be all right. Mine was already bruised by Microsoft Research (which at the time hired even better people, believe it or not; don’t know how it is now), so I didn’t have that problem.

This sentiment is echoed by current Googler Lutz Enke:

Your colleagues at Google are very smart. Many individual contributors would be in leadership positions at many other companies. (a) This might feel limiting if you are such an individual contributor and would prefer to manage a large team; and (b) you might “feel less smart”, as you’re constantly exposed to so many smart people.

Not every current or former Googler felt this way about their colleagues, however. In fact, self-described “reluctant Googler” Robert Menke thinks that his colleagues are highly overrated:

Google’s hiring process tends to pull in people who are computer-science heavy and software-engineering light, which means that the code base is a horrific mess more reminiscent of an undergraduate project than a shipping product. The engineering practices are straight out of the 1980s. I doubt anyone over a level 6 has ever read “The Mythical Man-Month.” Silver bullets abound yet the werewolves keep coming.

While this is a refreshingly honest take, we can’t imagine it going over too well with his coworkers.

As for other drawbacks to working at Google, former Googler Jesse McGrew writes that he feels working at Google has left him out of touch with a lot of the software that’s being developed outside the company:

Besides creating a long learning curve, and making it difficult to explain to your non-Google friends what you do all day, this also means that once you leave Google, much of the experience you gained there won’t transfer. Having Google on your resume is prestigious, but if the company you’re hoping to join built their product on Ruby, React, Bootstrap, Heroku, Docker, Nagios, Redis, MySQL, and MongoDB, it’ll take a lot of prestige to make up for being unfamiliar with all of those. Even transferring your C++ experience to another company might be difficult, since Google has unique requirements for C++.

And finally, ex-Googler Joel Johnson has a pithy list of grievances from his time working at the company:

You will likely:

  • Become a cog
  • Work on nothing worthwhile
  • Be underutilized
  • Deal with politics and peer pressure
  • Regress (skills-wise) as an Engineer
  • Not be promoted regularly, even with good performance
  • Not have a great manager
  • Find yourself in a competitive environment (whether due to a large number of overqualified co-workers, or due to their competitive “one upping” nature)

When reading all these complaints, it’s again good to keep in mind that Google has been a fixture in Glassdoor’s top 10 best places to work and that the poor experiences listed here don’t seem to be a reflection on the company as a whole.

Check out the whole Quora thread for yourself at this link.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.