Why I Left Google
Early last year, I left Google to work for myself. I didn’t quite know what I wanted to work on, but had some ideas about working on Android applications or webapps. This surprised many of the people around me. Here I was, two years out of college, with a nice job, health insurance and great benefits, free gourmet food, and competitive salary (while the unemployment rate soared)–and I was just going to leave it all without something lined up?
To start off, I am very appreciative of my time at Google. I learned from and worked with some of the smartest and most competent people I’ve ever known. The team I worked with, from my manager, to my manager’s manager, to the PMs and all the other engineers, was stellar. Sometimes code reviews seemed very nit-picky, but they instilled in me a clean coding style that I appreciate now. Coming from a liberal arts education, working at Google with the best and the brightest was just the kick in the butt I needed to ramp up my technical skills. Free food, great coworkers…so why did I leave?
Truthfully, it was a combination of many factors. Ed Zschau’s “High Tech Entrepreneurship” class at Princeton really opened my eyes to the world of startups and entrepreneurship, and I accepted a job offer at Google with an expectation in the back of my mind that I would be there for at most a few years. During my time at Google, the main project I was working on was shut down. It wasn’t anyone’s fault in particular–it’s the inherent nature of a big company such as the one Google has become. They cannot run a business without occasionally surveying the project space and cutting out lower priority projects. Still, what I was working on was pretty cool, and I felt a lot of frustration when it was cancelled. My now-husband, Tyler, had left Google in 2008 to work on iPhone applications, and being around someone working for himself made me more seriously consider that possibility. Before I met him, I compartmentalized coding into a part of my life that I didn’t have to think about outside of work. His influence, the class I took at Princeton, and just being in Silicon Valley, made me think more creatively about new products and new ideas.
When I started thinking about leaving, I didn’t have anything concrete lined up. My plan was to work for myself for a bit and live off of some savings. I’d heard from other entrepreneurs that the hardest part of working for yourself is quitting your job. The power of inertia–to continue living day-to-day and put it off until later–is surprisingly immense. In fact, I didn’t tell my parents about it until after I gave my two week’s notice to my manager. I’m sure it seemed like a somewhat abrupt decision to them, but I actually was afraid they would manage to talk me out of it right after I had just built up the courage to take the leap. Though I didn’t have a solid plan in place for after Google, I realized that the biggest obstacle I had was my stable job and steady paycheck. I had done a few hours of Android programming on my own after work, but I knew that I wouldn’t really take it seriously until I jumped into the deep end.
Working at a big company like Google has undeniable perks. There are certainly days when I wish I had access to the plethora of knowledge at Google. And there are days (or maybe every day) when I wish I could pop into a massage room for a 15 minute chair massage with my favorite massage therapist at Google. The food is undeniably delicious, and I really miss the heated toilet seats. In the end, what it came down to was that I felt too young to work at such a corporate job indefinitely. I felt that if I stayed, I would look back at this time years down the road, and wonder, what else could I have done? After I turned in my laptop and completed my exit interview on my last day, I felt such exhilaration and relief. A whole world of opportunity was out there, and I drove home with a ridiculous grin on my face.
- Goodbye, Google. Adventure, here I come!
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- The Thrill of a Deadline
- A Commonly Asked Question…