In January, I was contacted by Google regarding a UI design position on the Google+ team, based in their Mountain View Campus in California.
After being with my wife the duration of her sixty hour labour, the eleven hour flight literally flew by and I landed in SFO before I knew it.
After using FaceTime to see the family, I found out who was around and called on Charles Riccardi. I’ve never met such a genuine and talented guy and he must be the fastest friend I ever made. He gave me an awesome tour of the Color office, complete with a gazillion iMacs, pingpong, a mini ramp and a three storey Barbie Dream Townhouse.
We drove around SF, checked out the Golden Gate Bridge, (I personally think Bay Bridge is way more impressive), and grabbed an In-N-Out burger — before having a heart attack.
Charles and his lovely wife Mel showed me around downtown Palo Alto, introduced me to Fro-Yo and mostly mocked my British accent.
After the weekend shenanigans I almost forgot why I was there, but come interview day I was over the worst of the jet lag and felt good about this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Googleplex is pretty incredible. The food is totally amazing and on the house, the people are super friendly, free vending machines with Organic drinks line the walls and there’s a freakin’ T-Rex outside.
￼That wasn’t even the fun part. The real fun was the five hours of interviews. I can’t go in to too much detail, but it consisted of intense UX discussions, interface ideas and a lot of brainstorming on white boards.
As I drove away from the campus at the end of the day, with Google merchandise filling the boot (trunk) of the rental car, I couldn’t help but feel satisfied with how far I had got. Even if I was never offered a job there, it was a humbling experience to be called out, treated so well and to get the chance to visit a top company on the other side of the planet.
Before I could take a breath, I got an invite to say hey from Matt Van Horn at Path. Parking in SF is a nightmare, but I finally arrived at their building where a dedicated elevator takes you straight up the Path office with one of the best views of the bay I’ve seen. I had a chat with Matt, spoke to Danny Trinh — awesome after seeing him on the TechCrunch interview— and shook hands with co-founder Dustin Mierau.
It’s totally inspiring to meet designers at the top of their game and I think that’s the best way to learn and grow — not to compare yourself to them, but aspire to be the best you can be in light of what’s possible.
I flew back later that day and spent the flight reflecting on the weekend in California. To meet so many great people in such a short space of time gives you lots of new thoughts and ideas to process. Socialising with likeminded people after working in solitary confinement in the small home office was great and I won’t quickly forget my experience.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the position at Google. To get in to the States from England without a degree is nigh on impossible without a decade of relevant experience under your belt. It really is the first genuine benefit of having a degree I’ve come across. Google were extremely accommodating and investigated positions closer to home in London — before informing me that there was no demand for a visual designer there.
Despite not getting the job, it was still an awesome experience and if you ever get the opportunity to visit California or Google, go for it and let me know how it goes!
Huge congrats to Marshall Bock, who was offered one of the visual designer positions. He’s gonna rock it and I can’t wait to see what they cook up!