Fortune recently named Google as the #1 company to work for in 2007. You’ve probably heard about all of the perks like free gourmet food all day long, snacks up the wahzoo, oil changes and car washes on site, and the list goes on. One Google employee took the liberty of creating a page on Flickr where they post pictures of the food they ate at work. How often do you take pictures of your food at work? Sounds silly, but people are intrigued with this. So how does working for Google stack up against Yahoo and Microsoft?
This question is easily answered with the help of this blog. The author has worked for all three in some fashion, and put together a comparison of his experiences which are also summed up on the graph below:
He started with Microsoft, and then moved onto Google for summer internships, and just recently ended up getting hired by Yahoo as a software engineer.
So, what does he have to say about Google?
The rumors about Google were mostly true: free gourmet food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and kitchens with cereal and snacks nearby. The chefs would chat with you while you were filling your plate and answer any questions about the ingredients or cooking methods. Googlers are picky — I remember a > 100 email thread on the Mountain View misc mailing list discussing conspiracy theories about why our biodegradable recycled take-away food containers were replaced by cardboard ones. The variety of drinks was my favorite thing: you could get fresh squeezed juices of all kinds or whatever soft drink or tea you preferred. My chosen desk drink was Naked Juice at first, but eventually switched to Honest Tea for a lighter beverage. Before I worked there, photos of Googlers riding Segways in the hallways made me think that I would be doing the same. Unfortunately, there were no working Segways the whole summer I was there; we had scooters, but it was nearly impossible to take one out during the day. The 3 in the building would already have their keys taken by the time I got to work. Apparently “Don’t be evil” doesn’t apply to scooters. Other cool things included famous people/authors coming in to give talks and giving us movie tickets or books they authored. There were so many great talks every day that I could have spent my whole day listening to interesting presentations by geek (and sometimes non-geek) celebrities.
Being an intern here was a blast and I was among good company with around 500 interns in Redmond. One memorable intern event was a barbecue at Bill Gate’s mansion by the bay. It was quite a palace and I couldn’t even see the entire house because it was 90% covered in trees. We munched on h’orderves and chatted with VPs while waiting for the BillG to come out. He finally made an entrance near the end of the evening and was immediately surrounded by interns shaking his hand and asking press questions like “How does Microsoft plan to position itself in the future?” During his informal talk, I was about 2 feet behind him and I wasn’t paying much attention to the speech but only noticed his shoes — they were actually slightly worn out normal looking shoes. I had always wondered what the richest man in the world wore and did not expect that.
Hey, Bill wears worn-out normal looking shoes! Who knew?
And now what about Yahoo?
I have to admit I have only worked here for a month so far, but it’s a pretty good place to work. I use my knowledge of operating systems, algorithms, and data structures to work with the massive amounts of data Yahoo gets. My favorite perk is an espresso bar downstairs where baristas serve your choice of caffeinated drinks as well as chai and chocolate milk. I miss the less bureaucracy at Google though: at Yahoo I have a manager, his manager, THREE directors above that manager, and then THREE VPs before the CEO. That’s right — I have 9 promotions to go before I’m at the top. And I have to confess that I still use Google for my internet-based needs.
I found all of this pretty interesting, especially the fact that he now works for Yahoo, yet he still uses Google for his Internet needs. Also interesting is how the perks like food and drinks appear to make a difference in the overall opinion of a company.
There probably aren’t many people who can say they’ve worked for Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google. His entire story is pretty long, but interesting, and you can find that here. If you’re wanting to get hired by one of these companies, he offers a few tips as well.