It feels like I only recently started, but my time at Google has already come to an end! 11 months have passed in what feels like two or three. In equal parts challenging, fun and inspiring to the end: I am definitely going to miss working at Google.
On their University Programmes team I supported student outreach events across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), helped run eight different international summits at Google Dublin and was Google’s point of contact for hundreds of students. I twice helped to run Google’s flagship diversity student programme within EMEA, and co-led the Google Student Ambassador programme in Europe. I’ve honed my presenting skills, hugely improved my event-planning skills and learned a lot more about online advertising. It’s been one hell of a journey.
Google BOLD Immersion 2013: spot me at 0:55!
And I’ve met some incredible people along the way! I was fortunate enough to work with an amazing team, and I really hope to be able to keep in touch with everyone. It’s been a blast, from start to finish.
I may never find another company quite like Google: from fantastic free lunches (chef cooked, with three choices of restaurant to visit), to games rooms everywhere (table football <3) and of course the free gym and swimming pool (which I probably didn’t use nearly enough). I’m kind of sad that just before I left they added French toast to the breakfast menu, a new vanilla fro-yo machine (SO delicious) and a new barista coffee-bar (think Starbucks but free)!
But beyond the perks there are things I seriously love about Google’s culture:
- Moonshot Thinking: ideas that live in the grey area between audacious projects & pure science fiction
- Never Fail to Fail, because failing is important (from Google’s Eight Pillars of Innovation)
- It’s a company making a real difference in the world: whether by responding to natural disasters, supporting free speech or philanthropic efforts
In a lot of ways Google’s values are very similar to Amazon’s values: both companies love to innovate, are driven by data and put the customer/user first. They both operate at a frenetic pace. But there’s one key difference (from my experiences working for both) which sets them apart: Amazon emphasises frugality while Google fosters creativity.
Google gives out fantastic food just so employees might come up with the next ‘moonshot’ idea over lunch. Its offices are crazy, real-life canvases of creativity; you may find a forest on one floor, or a mini-golf course, an aquarium, indoor swings, a library, a flight simulator…the list goes on. But Google’s many perks aren’t there to keep employees working late either: they’re there to keep employees happy. I experienced this first-hand whenever I dared to work later than six: my manager would actually walk over to my desk and tell me to close my laptop and go home.
Meanwhile Amazon proudly refuses to pay for its executives to fly business class, unless they pay out of their own pockets. According to Amazon’s own list of values: “Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention.” It’s at the core of its DNA, and cost-cutting is what got it where it is today. Savings are measured in terms of how many free books for customers that saving would buy. You won’t find free lunches at Amazon.
Both companies’ models are intended to lead to the same results: creative, driven employees continuously innovating. Yet from what I’ve seen (and this is purely anecdotal as I’ve worked just under a year at each company) I get a strong impression Amazon’s frugality leads to inventiveness out of necessity, where resources are kept to a minimum and hours are long, while Google’s environment seems to lead to innovation out of passion, with a much happier workforce as a result.
Randomly enough, Google may never have made it to where it is today without Amazon. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, was one of the Google’s first major investors. Small world.
So what’s next? I’m focussing on finding another job within the tech industry (hopefully one as fun as my role at Google) and staying put in Dublin, at least for the time being. I’m also looking into doing more freelance journalism and finally getting my driving license. Exciting times!
Xmas present from Ella
P.S. Interested in applying to Google? You could do worse than read about their interview process!