Inside a Google data center - updated

I was brought on as a contract employee and had to go through the same full interview process as a regular employee. I was given a battery of tests: math problems that I had to work through in my head (including adding several numbers in quick succession in binary), a lot of logic problems that also had to be worked out in my head (the Tower of Hanoi problem -- they asked if a certain configuration could be achieved in n number of moves. Another scenario they asked me about was if the manager asked how many ping pong balls could fit inside a bus, what is the third step I'd do to find out the answer), and how to resolve "gray" ethics problems (ones with no clear right answer). All of this, mind, is while three guys sit across from you typing on their laptops. They were serious and all looking at you with poker faces when asking questions, and while you are answering, they're giving little giggles and seem not to be paying attention. I have a feeling their process is designed to put off as many people as possible because I felt it was highly unprofessional. They asked maybe 10 questions tops about my Linux experience, which is the job I was applying to do... Take from that what you will. I walk out of there dejected and tell my recruiter, who was also on site that day, that I feel like I completely bombed it. I continue searching for other companies when the recruiter calls two weeks later and says that they were thoroughly impressed with my knowledge. They wanted me to start the week after that, but that training class was cancelled. I was going to start the week after that, but not before I was presented with an overwhelming amount of documents to read and sign before the end of the day. My first day, I'm presented with another packet of paperwork that I'm only given about 30 minutes to read and sign before they let me through the front gate to park my car. This thing was the size of a magazine -- no lie. One of the rights I had to sign away was the right to tell people the name of the company where I work or where the building was located. (Although, you can search for it on Google Maps -- no problem...) I'm escorted by security into the main lobby and have to hand over my driver's license to be scanned, iris and fingerprints scanned, and my picture taken. (Routine stuff you'd expect at a high security facility.) It took about an hour for everyone to get through this and we're led to the training room. It was right inside the door from security and we weren't allowed to leave that room, even to go to the bathroom, until they handed out temporary badges. We were then given what I deem a normal orientation for a company and are shown the hardware my department would be supporting. Most of the people there were hired to be regular repair people, but I was hired as repair / Linux network admin (it was supposed to be mostly admin along with one other guy). They then hand us some tools and are told to break the machine down for parts before building back up. Taking apart computers is one thing... taking apart something with around 20% proprietary parts is something else completely. I'm smart but generally I have to be shown something at least once before I'm able to tell you that their particular heatsink on one machine goes one way but backwards on a different configuration. This is to say -- I was not impressed with the fail-first style of training. Things smoothed out (some) once we finished training and they said that they wanted the admins to only do repairs for a bit so we can get a feeling for the machines we were supposed to be supporting. That's fair, but it was nigh to impossible to find the right part to fix it. You needed access to one internal website which was restricted. I had to fill out a request and wait two days for it to be fixed (which was also restricted and had to have the training guy unlock it for me since I was an admin.. why this site was unlocked for normal repair people and not for the admins is something I still have yet to figure out). It got to the point where I had to take a working machine out of service just to see what model number was on the memory, for example, and hope that there were some in stock. You think that someone like Google would have all this shit figured out. Hell, even one of my previous computer repair jobs in a small room in the warehouse had better inventory management. If I took my phone into the server room, I had to show security to make sure I didn't take any video or pics of sensitive equipment. We weren't allowed to carry bags, so I had to lug around a laptop, cables, testing stuff, tools, phone, keys, everything. I only had so many pockets in my shorts. Did I mention the server rooms were also around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and you were expected to stay in there for about 4 hours at a time without water? This was also wearing special shoes which pressed on my feet so hard, my big toe would turn white and be numb for hours after I got off work. Still to this day, if I press just right, I lose feeling in my toes and that's been a year ago. Two months into it, we still weren't allowed to the job we were hired to do, which was to admin the machines. It was explained to me that our main function was to diagnose problems and hand it off to the repair team to fix. If it was something simple, like replugging a cable, then we were to do that. Full time Google employees were issued water bottles, but they didn't extend that same courtesy to contractors. They made it very clear that contractors were not "Googlers" and not entitled to many of the same perks. The contractors were also restricted from entering certain areas of the open floor. (I had several meetings that took place in conference rooms inside this restricted area and had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to get into them without crossing the invisible boundary. I gave up and asked security to escort me to the rooms.) The original contract was for a year, which was then whittled down to 6 months, or less depending on the backlog of servers. In total, it was about 2 months and 3 weeks. In that time, I had 7 different managers. Some of them went through so quick, that I can't even tell your their names or what they looked like since I only met with them once. (One, I never even met...) They refused to give any performance evaluation or even to say if they think they think your efforts are going in the right direction. I was told that the only way I'd know if I was doing everything right would be if they hired me on full time after a year, but not to count on it since very few people transition in permanent employees. One day I come home from work and receive a call on my phone just as I'm pulling into the drive way. It was my recruiter and he told me that my contract had ended. I was a bit hurt and angry that no one had the decency to tell me to my face. No one would tell me the reason why and refused to send out a separation notice, which they are required to provide by law before 3 days. I was very let down by this company and my entire experience. I'm a pretty laid back guy, but if I say something is unprofessional that's saying something. I messaged the trainer guy, whom I had gotten along with well and he said that he didn't know. Google doesn't even tell it's full time employees that someone is let go. He said that he's surprised that I lasted that long because most contractors are usually brought on for a month to blow through a certain task. That stuck in my mind. He did say he was surprised since he kept checking my stats after I left training and said I was on top of things. At this point, I don't think I would ever do business with them again, even if they begged and dumped piles of money on my front door. I left there and went onto doing network admin / training and made twice the money Google was paying. (Shame that company then went out of business...) Hope this answers your question. Sorry about all the tangents, but I'm tired and was wanting to give you as much information as possible. If you are thinking of trying to get hired there, I'd advise against it.. if only for your sanity.

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