Answer on @Quora by Bruce R. Miller to What's a day as an engineer like at Google?
Answer by Bruce R. Miller:
I grab some breakfast first. It's free and I sit in the cafeteria with my laptop checking mail and listening to whatever Pandora station is playing on the PA system. Sometimes Nirvana. Sometimes classical guitar. Then I hit the gym for 30 minutes. I grab a cappuccino on the way to my office. If some of my code reviews have cleared, I'll build some new binaries and deploy them on the super cluster to test them. I check out the bug database, walk around and talk to people about projects, check log files for problems, learn stuff in the huge Google library, answer email. Around noon, team members usually go to lunch together. If we pick a far away cafeteria, we'll grab some of the bikes lying around and ride there. Lunch is quick, walk up, grab whatever you want, sit down, then eat and talk. Then back to the office. I'll code until dinner time, usually C++ or Python. It's common for people to talk and joke with each other throughout the day. If you need help with anything, just ask. A group of us usually goes to dinner on campus. Some go home afterwards. I usually stay a little later to review my code and submit it for a code review by a peer. Then I go home.
I have no real life outside Google at the moment. I'm happy with the environment and the work and the people I'm with. But most people there have families or other outside commitments. They tend to come in earlier and leave by 4pm or 5pm. No one really cares exactly when you work, so long are you are around during the day to talk with people and help out. Meeting the deadlines that you set for yourself each quarter is the main thing.
What's a day as an engineer like at Google?
Answer by John L. Miller:
I joined Microsoft in 1991, with a good allotment of stock options. I later calculated that if I'd stayed for 6 years, that initial stock would have been worth $2M, never mind the larger incentive stock that came later. Microsoft salary back then was below market, but still good. Total compensation wasn't investment banker money, but not bad for someone fresh out of university, either.
By late 1993 I'd burned out. My girlfriend became a PhD student, and I decided to leave Microsoft and Seattle to work at her university. I gave up most of my stock to do so, because I didn't realize how stock options worked (among other things). I left Microsoft with less total pay than I would have made making market rate salary somewhere else. The pay at CMU was good, but total comp was far less than Microsoft. Still, moving was a great decision.
The difference between being staff at a university and a software engineer at Microsoft was astonishing.
- At Microsoft I felt constant self- and peer-pressure to work overtime. An average week was 60 hours, my worst was 110, sleeping a few hours a night on my office floor. Any time I took off – say, a Sunday afternoon – I felt like I should be working.
- As facilities staff at CMU, I worked 40 hours a week, including time spent to take a class every now and then, and a half hour for lunch. There was no pressure to work more, and things took however long they took.
- At Microsoft, the review was all-important. It told you if you were passing or failing. It determined whether you got lots of stock or very little. It determined how quickly you were promoted, which in turn led to more money and more responsibilities.
- At CMU the review was done once a year because it had to be. It talked unambiguously about how you were doing, which was usually 'fine'. Financial incentives were minimal.
- At Microsoft I rarely did anything unrelated to work, period. An occasional movie with friends from work, a (very) occasional party.
- At CMU I had time to pursue all sorts of hobbies in and out of work. I took classes for fun, read an incredible amount, wrote two shareware apps, joined a great writer's group for a few years and started submitting stories to magazines, and so on. I felt like I was living.
I left Microsoft because – with the naive idealism of the young – I was afraid I was trading my youth for money. I chose to follow love and to get out of the grind. The love didn't work out, but the chance to catch my breath let me come back and work at a sustainable rate later. And, I got to work towards all the unfulfilled dreams I had at the time.
How does it feel to move from a high-pressure, high-paying job to a less stressful but lower paying one? It feels like a vacation, like a burden lifted from your shoulders. It's a breath of fresh air that gives you a chance to stand up straight and think about what you want out of life. And then you can decide whether you want to keep that freedom, or if you want to jump back into the shark tank. It's awesome.
What was it like quitting your high-paying job for a less stressful lower paying job?
Answer by Paul S. R. Chisholm:
has it right. To which I can add a couple of examples.
- Mark Jen joined Google in January 2005. He immediately started blogging about the experience, and included "some information from prior postings that Google considered to be sensitive information about the company's finances and products" (source). Mr. Jen was fired from Google eleven days later. An interview the following month said, "Even now, weeks after he was terminated, Jen doesn't know what led Google management to decide to fire him …" (I can't find details of the blog posts, but I remember reading them and thinking, "How could he have ever thought this was okay to make public?")
- Steve Yegge wrote a long screed in 2011, accidentally posted publicly, that in part said, "The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought." Despite its overwhelmingly negative tone, this post revealed no confidential information. Mr. Yegge was not fired.
EDIT: Mr. Jen's first name is Mark, not Brian. Thanks to John Edwards
for the correction.
What must Googlers not talk about publicly to avoid losing their jobs?