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Wonder what I work on? Our PM was recently interviewed for an article describing Google Website Optimizer.
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The Fremont Google office had its official "we exist!" open house yesterday. One particularly fluffy article to come out of the event was in the Seattle PI (the puppy really is as precious a ball of fluff as he looks). I have been amusing myself throughout the day reading the comments on the article. There is an anti-dog thing, which I do not get, but the sentiment that amuses me the most can be summed up "I would rather not have things like dogs in the office and game rooms and massages and free food and instead have more pay and a good 401K program." To which I reply, "ummm.... yes?".
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Finished Happy Hour is 9 to 5 By Alexander Kjerulf (available for free online). The subtitle of this book provides a more concise summary than I could come up with: "how to love your job, love your life and kick butt at work". The book discusses that people should expect to be happy at work, causes of happiness or unhappiness at work, and specific things that employees and companies can do to promote happiness at work.

Kjerulf's book is very readable, entertaining, and fully of good advice. It also is rather shallow; most of the citations refer to news articles rather than more rigorous sources. Despite this, the overall message rings true. People can and should be happy at work. Happiness is something you can do yourself and do now. A good atmosphere and the right level of challenge make you happier in the long term than yet another raise. You spend so many waking hours at work; enjoy them!
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The Wall Street Journal had an interview with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president of the Center for Work-Life Policy. Hewlett was discussing the question of why there are not more women in the high power positions in companies. One section in particular caught my eye.
WSJ: How would you describe a nonlinear female career?

MS. HEWLETT: About 37% of women take an off-ramp at some point in their career, meaning they quit their jobs -- but just for an average 2.2 years. Another substantial number take scenic routes for a while -- intentionally not ratcheting up their assignments. For instance, 36% of highly qualified women have sought part-time jobs for some period, while others have declined promotions or deliberately chosen jobs with fewer responsibilities.

WSJ: Can women who off-ramp get back on track easily?

MS. HEWLETT: That's the problem. The vast majority of them -- 93% -- want to return to work, for financial reasons and because they like their careers. But once a woman stops working for even a year or two, opportunities to re-enter are few and far between. Just 73% land jobs, and 24% of these end up having to take part-time jobs.
I would guess similar issues apply for men who choose to take a career break.

As a person who will either take a career break or have a spouse who will take a career break, I find this worrisome. It would be interesting to see studies on why these women have such a difficult time getting back into their careers.
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Hmmm... listening to the sky.fm oldies channel might be too distracting during work. I know too many of the songs well enough to sing along with, and it takes a lot of mental energy to remember not to sing out loud in my shared office. It also makes me want to watch Beatles movies.
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Extremely quick update, mostly so I remember what to expand upon later. First week at Google was fun. Train ride down was fun, and seeing Andrew was fun. My head has been overstuffed with info; I can only imagine what it is like for the people who weren't interns. Choosing a medical plan is hard. Google is still awesome. I attended a good talk on what causes people to leave engineering programs and how the development of professional identity varies by gender. Getting to my final hotel destination was somewhat difficult. Mysterious lava lamps appeared. Driving again is hard, but not as bad as I remembered. It is kind of nice to be able to respond to paper reviews, but double blind reviews are silly for CS papers (definitely more on that).
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Result of the Google quiz from the CNN money feature on the top companies to work for "You've got the basics, but you're not ready to be a Noogler yet."

I'll mention that to them when I get back to the office. =)
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As of the week after next I will be a full time employee of Google and on leave from graduate school for the foreseeable future.

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Erika RS

May 2012

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