Sunday, November 27, 2005


How people came to Google

Ron Garret, a new ex-googler an Xooglers, shares his story of coming to Google. I'd like to note, that one of his points is exactly what periodically makes me think about moving to US and applying to Google. It must be so exciting to work at the plcae where finally, eventually, at last all the usual clever guys are in the bottom 25%. I am not sure if I can qualify for the Google position, but if I lived in a Google country I would definetely try. It is so exciting to work with a clever people, with those who just understand the geek thoughts about perfectizing the software.

Please, don't get it wrong. I am happy to work with clever people at my current workplace. But if I lived in a Google country instead of a mobile phone country, I'd try entering Google.
A very brief summary to set the stage: I worked as a robotics and artificial intelligence researcher at the Jet Propulsion Lab from 1988 until 2000 when I went to work for Google as a software engineer. I was there for just over a year. I worked on two main projects, the first release of AdWords, and a little known widget called the Translation Console. If you go to Google's preferences page you will see that Google is available in well over 100 languages, including Klingon and Elmer Fudd. (There used to be a Swedish Chef option, but that seems to have succumbed to political correctness.) All those translations are provided by volunteers around the world. The interface they use to do the translating is the translation console (officially called the Google In Your Language Program). As far as I can tell it hasn't changed much since I wrote it. I'm pretty proud of that.

I guess the #1 FAQ for people who have left Google is why did you leave. My main reason for leaving was that I was commuting from Los Angeles. I'd fly up on Southwest early Monday morning, fly back on Thursday evening, and telecommute on Fridays and weekends. That regimen was pretty stressful even under the best of circumstances, but when 9/11 happened it became completely untenable. I had already given my notice before 9/11, but I don't think I could have stayed on after that even if I had wanted to. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As I've said, my story is not entirely rosy, so I want to make a sort of blanket disclaimer, and to do that I have to indulge in a little bit of tooting of my own horn. I have a Ph.D. in computer science. I was a senior scientist at JPL when I went to Google, and when I returned to JPL I was promoted to Principal, the highest rung on their technical career ladder. (Actually, it turns out there are higher rungs, but their existence in not publicly known.) I am generally considered to be a pretty bright guy.

I am tooting my horn to put the following assessment in perspective: at Googe, if I were to rate people on general smartness I would have put myself in the bottom 25%. It was pretty much the first time in my life that I found myself not at the top of the intellectual pecking order. It was not an easy adjustment for me.
Original post by Ron Garrret

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