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What Happened to Regular Blogging…? Well, Life Got Too Good!

Note: This was actually written in August, but it took a while for me to get around to editing and publishing it.  My next post will be published in the next few days.

In my first blog post from Zurich I said I was planning on blogging throughout the training and regularly whilst here.  Well, that kind of broke down – life just got incredibly, fantastically full.  So, here goes – two weeks in one blog post – two weeks of transitioning from Student, to, well this:

Shows me in a Noogler Hat at the bottom of the Zurich Office Slide.
Me – The Noogler – and yes, that’s a Noogler hat I am wearing!

As you will remember, during my first few days I was taking part in the EMEA Scholarship Retreat in Zurich as well as starting my internship.  So, on the Sunday night I headed down to the hotel for the reception and to meet all the other scholars – a bunch of incredible people who had travelled a long way to be at the event.  Whilst I was not in Noogler training I had a great time chatting to all the other scholars and finalists.

EMEA Scholars form a "G" shape.
EMEA Scholars form a “G” shape.

As anyone who has watched ‘The Internship’ will know, when you start at Google you are a Noogler (short for New Googler – I’m sure it could get more complex in Zurich since we are also Zooglers).  So, having been at Google for 2 weeks I am just starting to loose my Noogler status (i.e. there are newer Nooglers in the office), which is a shame since it’s kind of a get-out-of-jail free card for doing silly things in the office.

Now, here, I’d love to be able to give you a full account of the last two weeks.  But (you knew there’d be a but right?), as you might guess almost all the information is confidential.  So, here follows an account of the non-confidential bits (which basically means the full Noogler experience minus anything technical).

Week 1 – Monday.  I arrived at the office a few minutes early, registered and then we got taken up to the training rooms to drop bags, before having breakfast together.  The experience of meeting everyone was pretty odd – because we had all been talking on Google Plus for months before hand, it was like meeting someone for the first time whilst already knowing something about them or whilst having exchanged a few emails previously.

The day was basically full of training sessions – Life at Google, how Google worked, administration, and not forgetting collecting laptops.  I got the opportunity to have lunch with my hosts as well which was awesome – the first time I started to get an idea of what I would be working on.  The food was incredible as well.

After the first week, the active training gradually got less and less, with more time spent at my desk learning the stuff I would need for my project.

Normally at Google there is a ‘TGIF’ (Thank God It’s Friday) meeting at the end of the week (see below).  However, at the end of the first week the Zurich office was throwing their annual Summer Salsa Party!  It was pretty awesome – sunny weather, beautiful venue and fantastic food.  They gave us wristbands for the event that said Google, so I now have both Apple and Google wristbands on my wrist.  Who is the third company going to be?

Google + WWDC Wristbands
Google + WWDC Wristbands – who will be third?

After the summer party and throughout that weekend it was Züri Fäscht – an event that only happens every three years.  Straight after the Summer Party we got down to the lake to join around 1 million people watching a colossal 20+ minute firework display.  That was repeated on Saturday, and the weekend was filled with the festival taking up pretty much all of the streets around the lake.

In the second week there were only a few active sessions.  Having just about become competent in the internal Google system, I spent most of the week learning about the project I would be working on and learning the tools that I would use.  I spent most of this time at my desk working on examples my host gave me.  In some ways I think I preferred this to the earlier training as we were starting to get more freedom with our time.  At Google, nobody minds if you turn up at 10am and leave later in the evening or if you take half an hour out to play ping-pong (or a nap in the water lounge (below) or even a massage).  Although it makes for a really relaxed style workplace, a lot of work gets done because Googlers are selected partly on their desire to drive projects forwards and see results.

Water Lounge, Google Zurich. That's a bathtub in the foreground full of foam cubes.
Water Lounge, Google Zurich. That’s a bathtub in the foreground full of foam cubes.

Of course, one thing Google is famous for is the both free, and delicious, food.  We get three meals a day: Breakfast, where there’s the usual cooked food, pastries, fresh orange juice (you juice it yourself), smoothie (again, select the fruits you want to drink, put them in a machine and Voila!) and fresh fruits; Lunch, where there is a very wide selection, ranging from the main restaurant, serving a wide variety of traditional foods; fork() – which serves Sushi; and Big Bang, serving fresh Pasta, Pizza or other Italian food.  Dinner is pretty similar to Lunch, minus fork() and Big Bang.  Sometimes there’s BBQ’s on offer as well.

Sushi From fork()
Sushi From fork()

Another great thing about Google is the community – the people are great – you can just sit down next to a new person and ask what they are working on – the conversation flows so easily that eventually you learn only to do this if you have a lot of spare time though because most people can really talk.  Throughout this week, a group of us Nooglers have spent a lot of time by the lakeside in the evenings having a BBQ (with a small group of us venturing into the water for a swim).  Conversation is such a great thing at Google, since everybody’s interests/ideals are in some ways linked / have some similarity, and yet everybody’s cultures are so different – you end up learning all about the culture in Israel, Russia, Romania, ….. the list just goes on.

Finally, TGIF.  If anything sums up the social part of working at Google well, it’s TGIF.  What is it?  TGIF stands for ‘Thank God It’s Friday’, and in Mountain View is where ideas are shared and “Googlers ask questions directly to Larry, Sergey and other execs about any number of company issues” (Google Culture).  In Zurich, they use it to introduce the Nooglers to the Googlers – at 5 p.m. the Heidi Song is played to call everybody down to Milliways for beer and chatting.  After 20 minutes, we were called up and told we would be introduced as we rocketed down the slide and maybe quizzed on the Noogler fact slide we had prepared earlier.  I was one of the first down, and just escaped been quizzed on my Fun Fact.  As more people came down, the guys running the show did a great job of keeping the event fun – if someone said they could dance or sing, there just had to be a demo.