Surprising Pros and Cons of Developing at Google
Google is repeatedly listed as the world’s number one company to work for. Clearly Google has some marvellous benefits for its workers, just as you’d expect with a modern tech company, but can any company be perfect for everyone? In this article we will look at some of the pros and cons of working for the most popular employer in the world.
Con: The competition is brutal.
Let’s face it: When you work for one of the biggest organisations in the world, your employer can easily afford to select the best – which makes for a highly competitive environment. When you work alongside some great talent, competition will be pretty much inevitable.
Pro: The money’s great!
At Google, the Software Engineers are the best paid employees in the company, on a typical salary of more than $103,000. Even their software interns are some of the highest paid in technology, earning more than $82,000. This could nearly double once they climb to the dizzying heights of Senior Software Engineer level, at $139,000.
Con: Learning is self-driven.
There is an expectation that you will actively continue to educate yourself and expand your knowledge as a Google employee. You are encouraged to commit to self-improvement as well as expanding your skills. Some might see this as an imposition on their time, but it is simply part of life in today’s ever-changing work environment – especially in technology – and many businesses have adopted a similar culture.
Pro: The perks are delicious.
Among many other luxurious benefits, Google employees can have three free gourmet meals every day. The eateries are often individually decorated in designer styles,  where you can get healthy breakfasts and lunches – as well as a free dinner if you have to work late. There are also juice and coffee bars spread throughout the campuses.
Con: Launches drive advancement.
Google is known to promote staff as a result of product launches rather than as a reward for incremental improvements. Of course, in reality, most software developers will be involved in code improvement and bug fixing, yet the incentive scheme is not generally geared towards taking that into account.
Pro: Animals Welcome.
Many Google offices are animal friendly. The most extreme example is their California office which makes use of goats to keep their lawns neatly grazed, but many other offices also encourage their staff to bring their dogs to work, to improve wellbeing. Another initiative also provides pushbikes to ride around the Google Campus in an eco-friendly way.
Con: Work-life balance – not always balanced.
Many modern American companies have developed a contrived culture of lingering at work. Ambitious, new or young talent may end up hanging out at the office outside of work hours, often working or learning. This can develop into peer pressure to spend a lot of time at the office. Apart from coffee shops and libraries, some places have “sleep pods” for that swift power nap to help you keep going for longer. The Toronto Office even has a crazy golf putting green on the roof!
Pro: The doctor is in the house.
Google has a highly experienced team of doctors and nurses on the payroll, who will be working to help keep you healthy and happy – so maybe you won’t get away with taking a sickie quite so easily! They also have travel insurance and health coverage not only for their employees, but families too.
Con: Remote projects migrate to Mountain View.
One of the alleged downsides to working on development projects in one of Google’s remote teams is that flagship products are known to consistently be moved over to Mountain View (Google HQ) eventually. Obviously, if you have the benefit of getting yourself into Mountain View, then you might have a better chance of moving up through the ranks by working on these choice projects.
Pro: You can eat your own dog food.
Dog-fooding is the concept of internally sharing new technology and developments, often before releasing them into the wider user community. Not only does this give Googlers a clear view of the development roadmap, but it also allows members of staff to contribute to shaping new products by providing feedback.
Con: Supervision is minimal.
The limited supervision of individual staff can be a double-edged sword. While there is a great deal of freedom and minimal unnecessary involvement from superiors (as long as you get your work done), some may also experience a lack of guidance as everyone is expected to be self-reliant and a self-starter.
Pro: Benefits even in death.
Once it’s all over and you’ve logged out for the last time, Google will still look after you. Your stock options instantly vest, your spouse will receive half of your salary for another 10 years, and there is another $1,000 in benefits for your children.
Con: The tools are unique.
As a developer at Google, you will be expected to use a set of unique, proprietary systems and toolsets. Although these are highly specialised and efficient, this means that you can basically forget relying on many of the tools and skills you’ve learnt from previous work experience. Equally, you may face another challenge when you move from Google to another employer and no longer have access to these tools and facilities. Nevertheless, having Google on your resume does carry its own, special currency.