What’s It Like To Be A Software Engineer At Google

July 10, 2019 | No Comments » | Topics: Life Experiences

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google tel aviv

You come in in the morning. Everybody’s hours are different, nobody’s punching a clock. In general, people with school-age kids usually come in earlier than single folks. I arrive usually around 8:30, and head for breakfast. Food at Google is amazing. I’m sorry, let me correct myself. Food at Google Tel-Aviv is amazing. Food at Google in the Bay Area kind of sucks, if you ask me (lots of kale. Googlers love to complain about kale. Googlers love to complain. We’ve developed a special internal web service called memegen, almost entirely dedicated to complaining about things like kale). Food in Google Paris and Google Kirkland is pretty awesome too, and if you live in the US, then you’ll probably like the food at other offices too.

So, breakfast at Google Tel-Aviv is especially awesome, and I make a point of never missing it. I polish it off with a coffee from an espresso machine, and head to my office. As for my office, very few people at Google believe in open spaces. Unfortunately, these few happen to be the very top management, so open space it is. Again, we at Tel-Aviv are pretty lucky in that the layout of the high raise building we reside in simply does not allow for very large open spaces, on the other hand, whoever designed this office space went for looks over functionality, so the noise and lighting situation is pretty abysmal (did I mention Googlers love to complain?) – but the looks were impressive (that is, before most of the features built to impress, built at huge costs, were removed in order to squeeze in a few more desks or a couple more cafeteria tables – as it happens, I’m glad all of this fluff is gone, and overcrowding is actually a good kind of problem – better than having too much vacant space, if you ask me).

I then work for a while, meaning, I mostly write code, or review code my team mates wrote, or troubleshoot production issues. As for the last part, we do that quite a lot. We are also usually doing an oncall rotation, where we make sure our code is not causing any troubles to our users, and fixing any glitches. Long running, mature services have Site Reliability Engineers looking after things on the daily basis, but still, plenty of things to take care of in order to make sure everything’s working smoothly. There are lots and lots of tools written by googlers, for googlers, including monitoring systems, IDEs, version control system etc. The learning curve is pretty steep, but the tools are quite powerful.

Quite often my gettin’ in the zone is then interrupted – oops, I’ve got an interview to perform, won’t want to be late for that. We interview once per week on the average, which is not a lot, there are offices where people interview more, but, yes, we love to complain – Googlers complain about interview load almost as much as they do about kale (or more, depending on the locale – kale appears to be American peculiarity, whereas interview load is universal). Interview lasts 45 minutes, but then I spend quite some time writing an interview feedback, so that a hiring committee can have all the necessary information to make their hire/no hire decision, so another half an hour is gone by.

It’s now 2 hours since the breakfast, time to hit the gym – gotta work off all these calories! Some folks believe that massage helps against sourness after a hard workout, for them we have on-site massage therapists.

It is time for lunch. Here in Tel-Aviv we have 3 cafeterias to choose from. In the Bay Area and in offices such as NYC office there are many more venues. Regardless, the choice of food is impressive. After lunch – desert, coffee and ice cream at the dairy cafeteria. Today we had eclair topped with raspberries and blueberries, and a snickers ice cream.

Off to do some work again. Coding, doing code reviews, maybe some meetings. We work a lot with teams in other offices, so some of the meetings are over the GVC – Google Video Conferencing system.

And that’s about it. I’m heading home relatively early, to get me some time with the kids before their bed time, and knowing that I have another GVC with folks on the West Coast of the US at my 10PM – their noon (yes, 10 hours time difference is not easy to cope with). I do most of my work on my laptop, so I can work from anywhere – office, home, train during the commute – so nobody cares that I take this GVC from home.

– Dmitry Rubinstei