It's the end of my first week as a "Technical Solutions Engineer" intern at Google in London.
I'm living a 6 minute walk away from work (which everyone is very jealous of) in a studio flat in Westminster. The flat is about the size of a postage stamp, is in an ex-convent, is currently still full of the previous tenant's belongings, still has no Internet connection and is costing me more than most people's mortgages – but it's home, for the next 12 weeks at least. I can just see the top of Westminster Cathedral from my window and it's quite a weird feeling being around the corner from Buckingham Palace.
So far, working at Google has more than lived up to my expectations. It isn't just the three free meals a day, the permenant supply of snacks and drinks (healthy and not so healthy), the lava lamps, games room, bean bags, hammocks and massage chair. It's the whole atmosphere – the flexible hours, the incredibly friendly and intelligent people and the open-ness. Google might be secretive to the outside world, but internally they're incredibly open – even as an intern the amount of information (and code!) I have access to is astounding.
This week has been quite unusual because there have been a lot of social events – a leaving do, an afternoon of paintballing followed by pubs into the wee hours, and TGIF with free beer and pizza. This is good because the social events involved the gathering of a lot of members of the Partner Solutions Organisation (in which I work) from all over EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) so I really got to know the people behind the organisation in a social context.
The only uncomfortable thing for me is that I am living under my first NDA – for the first time in my life I am learning things that I can't necessarily pass on to other people. I had to do a lot of soul searching before I signed that document. If it wasn't for Google's commitment to Open Source (in their own special way) and particularly Open Standards I think the decision would have been much harder. I can tell you that people here really do take the statement "Do No Evil" very seriously – even if it does cause them lots of problems in the media.
At TGIF (thank goodness it's Friday) yesterday afternoon I had to introduce myself to everyone at the London office, accompanied by many other "Nooglers". All the Nooglers had to create a slide about themselves including a photo (I had pigtails in my photo) and when asked to reveal a "random life lesson" I told a story about the time I found out you shouldn't wear shorts in the Vatican (ask me for the full story). I was also asked who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Batman and controversially answered Spiderman (Batman doesn't even have any superpowers!) .
Google isn't just about fun and games though. I have a very challenging project to work on and it's going to take me at least the first two weeks to get up to scratch on Google's development tools, build system and production infrastructure. There's a steep learning curve to get started, but I think I've hit the ground running so far.
I'll be back soon with further updates.