Named after the mathematical term for a one followed by a hundred zeroes, Google’s rise over the past few years has been nothing short of meteoric. As the world’s most famous internet company, Google offers everything from video site YouTube to a program that lets you explore the night sky. Needless to say, the strings of zeroes alluded to by the company’s name could just as easily refer to its balance sheet.
- Smart, high calibre employees
- Great leadership
- Open, transparent and relatively flat culture
- Fantastic brand and a great name to have on your CV
- Exciting perks
- The long hours can be detrimental to your work/life balance
- The company is becoming bureaucratic and top down heavy
- Pay could be better
Google is to the internet, what Microsoft is to PCs; you will have almost certainly, perhaps inadvertently, used one of their products, and would have to try pretty hard to avoid stumbling across them on a regular basis. If you didn’t use Google to find this page, then you’re one of less than 30% of web-searches who forgo the convention. But either through Gmail, Google-managed ads or with the advent of their browser Chrome, you will have come across this internet king at some time or another.
This e-domination isn’t too bad for a bedroom project of two Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergei Bri. Then called “BackRub”, the aim was to create a piece of software that could track the links back to any website from the rest of the, then tiny, world wide web. The mission was to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful, and by 1998, the software had begat a search engine – Google.com.
Named after the mathematical term for a one followed by a hundred zeroes, the duo’s search engine produced far more useful results than any competitor due to their link-tracking technology. Google very quickly became a household name and by 2004, it was the world’s most popular search engine. Not ones to rest on their laurels, extra features were added in-house, such as the image search. Others were secured through the acquisition of other companies, such as its blogging service. But then Google did two very significant things: it launched Gmail, expanding into the massive email market and took itself public. The young company cut its starting share price over fears it was overvalued, but saw the shares soar in the first few days of trading. And they’ve soared ever since, as Google has continued to expand into virtually every corner of the web. The strings of zeroes alluded to by the company’s name could just as easily refer to its balance sheet.
Google is now the world’s most famous internet company, offering everything from the video site YouTube – bought in 2006 for a cool $1.65 billion – to a program that lets you explore the night sky. And although software innovation is the key to Google’s success, in many respects it is actually an advertising company. It makes millions in advertising through its AdWords system, targeted adverts based on user’s searches, both on its own site and on thousands of others.
Stories of life at the “Googleplex”, the company’s Mountain View, California headquarters, have become legendary: the free gourmet food, the lava lamps, space-hoppers and the dogs in the workplace. Well, the good news is that the same unusual – or, as more traditional businesses might think, plain silly – aspects of life at Google apply equally in the UK. The 600 person London office, which houses both technical and sales staff, boasts the full complement of Googley treats (apart from free onsite childcare). Are the company’s founders mad? Not exactly: they claim the approach fosters a creative atmosphere that enables ideas to flourish. If you’ve ever tried to think outside the box when you work in a cubicle, you might see their logic. The company even allows all technical employees to spend 20 percent of their time on their own ideas. More regular perks, like medical insurance and a pension plan, are also available.
Thanks to its well publicised commercial success, incredible brand recognition and reputation for innovative working practices, Google is frequently cited as one of the most desirable places for graduates to work. As you may expect, the company takes full advantage of this and uses its fantastic reputation to make sure it attracts the most intelligent and creative employees it can.
In the past Google has thought outside the box in order to grab the attention of the brightest and best: it once put up a billboard outside Harvard University posing a difficult maths equation. The answer, followed by ‘.com’, led to a special puzzle-filled website the company had set up. Those who completed the challenges were directed to the company’s recruitment site. This should give you idea of the calibre of person they’re looking for.
As you’d probably imagine, jobs are advertised and applications are accepted online. Graduates are encouraged to apply for regular roles and in addition, there are a small number of positions each year advertised especially for new graduates in technical, design and product management.
The majority of positions at Google tend to be for software engineers, requiring a computer science or similar degree, while those with an MSc, PhD or MBA could try straight for product manager. Graduate software engineers help in the design, development, maintenance and testing of Google’s current and future software. Those applying need to show a passion for the work as well as an understanding of how systems are put together, technical expertise and programming skills. For successful applicants the work will be a mix of large and smaller projects, using data compression, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, search technologies and the like. Google looks for perfectionists who love technology; but you’ll also need to have at least a BSc to apply and experience in network programming or large software systems would be highly advantageous.
Google also offers technical internships which are at least three months’ worth of paid full-time work, and can be completed any time in the year. The company is flexible with the interns it hires, choosing those studying Computer Science, Engineering, Physics, Maths or similar degrees. As an engineering intern you are assigned a mentor who decides the projects you undertake, and you will have the opportunity to take part in projects in Europe. The best advice here is to apply as early in the academic year as you can, as the early bird catches the competitive worm.
Even if you’re not a computer whizz, there are still a range of other opportunities within Google, from communications and public affairs to financial management. If you’re interested in advertising and sales, you also have the option of applying to the company’s smaller Manchester office.
Google hires a diverse group of graduates for its non-IT roles; those with a degree in social sciences, arts and humanities are welcome to apply. This also applies to the non-technical internships on offer all year round; to which the company is keen to attract students from all sorts of backgrounds and qualifications. All of Google’s interns have a mentor to guide them in their placement, and over the course of the internship colleagues from a number of different departments will come in and chat to you informally about their personal experiences.
After applying online, Google will contact you to find out a bit about what makes you tick. This is followed by a telephone interview lasting 30-40 minutes, in which they will ask about your skills and competency. The on-site interview for technical roles will test your engineering capabilities, and may, for example involve coding, data structures or algorithm development. For the more general positions, the recruitment team have been known to give applicants problematic scenarios and ask them to think of creative solutions. Applicants will be interviewed by at least four different interviewers, from management to potential work mates, and will have to wait at least two weeks to find out if they’ve made the grade.
Employer Type: Wholly owned UK subsidiary of US public company
No. of employees worldwide: 54,604
No. of employees in the UK: Approx. 1,500
No. of offices: 40 worldwide
Business and Operations Strategy
Finance Global Communications and Public
Operations and IT
Partner Solutions Organisation
Real Estate and Workplace Services
Looking for a job?Find Media & Publishing Jobs
London Sales & Engineering Office:
76 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 9TQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7031 3000
Other European Offices:
Ireland (EU HQ)