Leaving Google after 15.5+ years

Yesterday (March 4, 2024) was my last day at Google (for now at least) after more than 15.5+ years at the company. There’s still a lot of work I would’ve like to get done, many people I’ll miss working with (everyone I met, pretty much), including many who are dear to me, including especially my dear, dear wife, and many, many things I still would have liked to learn.

But I decided it’s time to try something new, something really I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’m still working out the details on exactly what that new thing will be, but I’m really excited to be out exploring on my own. (We’ll see if that excitement becomes more “uncomfortable” with time.)

I joined the company in July 2008, working as a “decision support engineering analyst” in Search. (Today, my title would probably have been “data scientist”.)

Before that, I was just one project away from finishing my masters in statistics at Iowa State University. (I also have an undergrad computer science degree from the same school.) A statistician from Google, Diane Lambert, had visited our department. I asked her about the possibility of doing an internship; since I was (theoretically) so close to graduation, she suggested that I apply for a full time position instead.

I was shocked when Google offered me a phone screen interview. I was even more shocked after that to be offered the chance to fly to San Francisco to interview in person at the Mountain View campus.

I still didn’t believe there was any real possibility of me getting a job with the company, which led me to take the interviews less seriously. Maybe that actually helped me come across as more confident. But amazingly, I did get an offer. (I planned to finish my final project and complete my masters after starting at Google. I’m really sorry that that never happened.)

Analysts, PgMs, directors and VPs, and SWEs sit around the table to discuss a proposed change to the Spelling algorithm.
Still from a video of a search quality launch meeting. I’m not in this picture but many of my coworkers from the time are.

Our main job as analysts was helping with evaluating and analyzing proposed changes to the search engine, writing up reports with the results, and presenting them in meetings like the one recorded here. (I’ve also put an image from that video above). Many of the people in the video, including the analyst presenting (one of my first officemates), were my every day coworkers. (Corresponding blog post. Archive.)

If you’re curious about how the quality of proposed changes was measured, you can also see this 2008 blog post on the subject. (Archive.)

I worked with many teams as an analyst, but one I particularly admired was the Spelling team. When I began thinking about moving over to the software engineer job ladder, I asked them about doing a 20% project. That wouldn’t do though, they said; it would have to be 50%, and I’d have to move over to sit with them. That was the beginning of another adventure, one that leads me all the way to yesterday.

I plan to reflect more on my time as a SWE (and as an analyst), but I think I’ll wrap this up for now. If you’d like a few more details in the meantime, you can take a look at my draft resume here.

Paraphrasing from my Google goodbye e-mail, let me say: I recognize I have a tremendous amount to be grateful for. To those in the data science org who gave me my start at Google, to those on the Spelling team for letting me pursue my dream of being a SWE at Google, to everyone else who’s offered help or fellowship in between, I owe you my eternal thanks. I also thank my manager and skip level manager for trying to get me to reconsider. But thank you especially to my wife. The thing I’m most grateful to Google for is that it gave me the opportunity to meet you and all else that followed from that.


Comments

3 responses to “Leaving Google after 15.5+ years”

  1. Joyce Corsiglia Avatar
    Joyce Corsiglia

    Have fun with this David, congratulation on your next career/life adventure!!

    1. Thanks, Joyce! Hope that all is well with you.

  2. Mary Richards Avatar
    Mary Richards

    I loved reading this, David. You’ve obviously thought deeply about what’s happening next, and I hope everything goes well for you, Jemma, and Hana.

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