Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) has long been considered one of the best companies in the world to work for and with good reason. Google’s perks are legendary. Employees get free massages, haircuts, car washes, gym memberships and, of course, food. One of their chefs actually used to cook for the Grateful Dead. Still, not all Google employees are blissfully happy.
Earlier this week, one user on Reddit, a popular social news site, created a new forum asking for current and former Google employees to describe what it’s really like to work for the company. Of course, the posts in this forum are all anonymous, so there is no guarantee that they are actually all from Googlers. Still, most of the responses are detailed and well-balanced which gives the impression that they may in fact be true.
The general picture that comes from these posts is that Google employees do appreciate all the perks that are offered to them, but that’s not enough to mask the fact that working at Google is a stressful and sometimes unrewarding job.
“[P]romotions and bonuses are generally tied to "impact", meaning stuff that actually launches and gets used, a whole lot of people wind up spending their first 4 years there with no launches, no promotions, and no fancy bonuses,” one user named CinoBoo wrote on the forum.
It’s equally difficult to work in management. “A typical manager has 50-100 employees, so even if they meet with their reports once a month for 30 minutes, that's about 2 weeks worth of almost constant 1:1s per month (allowing just a bit of time for stretching in between :-)),” another user named Solyanik wrote. “That's not a lot of time for interaction. As a result, managers aren't empwered to participate in technical decision, they don't have very much vote in performance reviews (these are done by committee), and not even hiring (which is also done by committee). I've asked older Googlers what the managers did there, and they universally said ‘I don't know.’”
Another commenter named Davmore who claims to have interned at Google a couple years ago praised the perks (particularly the free beer on Fridays) but criticized the work as tedious. “The vast majority of Google employees (especially those without PhDs) are essentially code monkeys: granted, very smart code monkeys working with some complicated systems, but 90% of any project is basically gruntwork, and that's true at Google just as much as anywhere else. So if you like coding, it's a great job. Personally it helped me discover that I'd rather go to grad school.”