On Where to Work

I’ve been lucky enough to work for a wide spectrum of companies. Enough of my friends have done double-takes (“You worked for Intel? Really? When?”) that I present here a quick overview:

  1. Local, 10-developer, software house. Long since acquired.
  2. Intel, in a research group.
  3. Intel, supporting a fab group.
  4. 3COM, right before the HP buyout.
  5. Microsoft, from Vista to just before 8.
  6. Amazon, during the Kindle Fire release.
  7. Google.

It’s with a little bit of authority that I can say that Steve Yegge was right in 2008.

An excerpt:

You: Should I work at Google? Is it all they say it is, and more? Will I be serenely happy there? Should I apply immediately?

Me: Yes.

Jobs 1-4 were wonderful experiences that I will one day write about. Jobs 5-7 are considerably more…formative.

Microsoft had fantastic training wheels. Amazon had very little oversight and guidance. Google is incredibly intimidating - throw out just about everything you know coming in - but they’re aware of it. It’s not so much they make allowances as they provide everything that might make it easier.

Revenue solves all known problems. - Eric Schmidt

Google is extremely intolerant of anything that impairs developer productivity. Any reasonable request gets accommodated. Many unreasonable requests get accommodated: for example, despite having been at Google NYC for all of three months (and getting a rather excellent relocation package) my team is letting me work from Seattle while my fiancée and I sort out a plan that works for us. I spend one week a month in NYC. Google covers flights and hotels. This isn’t something I asked for - I have no idea how to have that kind of conversation - this was offered to me when I talked to my director about missing my fiancée and our dogs.

I can’t imagine leaving Google because I can’t point at anything and say “this could be better” - when I tried, things were fixed. Immediately. The remote work plan was set up over about ten minutes with no prompting. Increased compensation isn’t really tempting - at Google, I can work on anything at any time and be at the absolute forefront of it. (I’m taking advantage of that now.)

So, come to Google. Send questions my way.

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