Not to quote a cliche, but I still remember that day 5 years ago like it was yesterday.
It was 8 am and I was all ready in my most crisp formals– unnecessary as I’d get to know later- and the cab picked me and a couple of others to ferry us to the office.
As a 21 year old in a new city, and away from the family for the first time, the excitement of starting my first job was interspersed with a certain nervousness and a 100 questions.
“What if I hated it?, “What would it be like to live away from my family?”, “What if I turned out to be a complete bum at the job?”
After a 10 minute ride, the cab pulled into the foyer and the first thing I saw was this magical word which would come to define my life for the next 4 years.
And here began the first day of a beautiful journey, a start I was extremely lucky to have got and my first foray into a world I was about to call my own.
I had heard a lot about Google, its crazy offices, the perks, the works, but here I was, a nervous, excited, 21 year old standing at the reception of this tech giant, under an imposing 3-level high ceiling, decked up with the choicest of decor- It was 3 days after Christmas- and the reception itself was classy and funky with circular chairs in the standard Google colours of red, blue, green and yellow.
Turned out I wasn’t the only newbie today, as 3 others had joined the same day. We exchanged introductions, and my “Buddy” came to receive me at the reception. Google pairs you up with a “Buddy” even before you join the company, to help ease your way into a new place, and to help you have a friend in your new stint.
Our buddies whisked the the 4 of us new joinees- or the “Nooglers” to breakfast. This was Google. Food was the priority, and I had heard of how Google pampered its employees, but what I had in store was beyond my imagination!
There were 3 counters full of the most sumptuous of breakfast items, that I’d only seen before at 5-star hotel buffets. South Indian breakfast? Yes sir. Care for some Aloo Paranthas? Sure enough, I helped myself to dollops of Sambar, a custom-made omelette, baked beans, a freshly baked croissant and fresh orange juice, feeling a bit sheepish about how I ran the risk of coming across as a glutton! Turns out this was the regular breakfast everyday at Google, as I’d soon get used to.We discussed our previous jobs (if any), college, city etc. over breakfast and then we were taken to a meeting room on the first floor
And now it was time to get our own welcome kits! Excited like a 5 year old at the prospect of getting new stationery, I discovered the welcome kit was a Google bag, with a Google T-shirt, a Google keychain, a Google notepad and a “Noogler Cap”- A cap in the Google colours with a copter wing on top! Perhaps a metaphor of how we felt like flying that day?
And off we went- in our Noogler caps- looking ridiculous but hey, it’s Google! Our buddy took us across the 4 floors, going through the maze of cubicles, and as someone who’d never had a job before, this was all a fascinating world for me. We were introduced to many people in quick succession, not much of which I remembered, but all I knew was that this was going to be fun!
We then got back to the meeting room, when the first “New Hire orientation” began, by senior people in the company. The first one was a brief overview about Google- like it needed any- and its Indian operations. These were followed by more sessions on HR policies, benefits, some dos and donts.
There was also this session on getting our photos clicked for the ID badge! Nope Sir, you don’t turn in a boring passport photo for your ID badge at Google. Everyone gets a fresh photo clicked at Google’s in-house photo studio, which then goes on a special 3D Google badge- Your door opening trophy- literally and figuratively- for times to come.
ID badge session was followed up by probably what would be the most important thing in your entire Google tenure. The assignment of your LDAP. What the hell is LDAP? To this day, nobody knows for sure, but in Googleverse, it is your unique identity, your precious <LDAP>@google.com login that you’d use every single day, multiple times in a day.
And soon again it was time for moar food! Since the breakfast a few hours back had already set a precedent of how Google went about its food, I was thrilled- but not surprised- at the vast spread that lay before us. South Indian, North Indian, Continental, steaming hot rotis, variety of juices and drinks, and 5 desserts! It was going to be a party everyday. And maybe even on our waists as our buddy enlightened us about the phenomenon of “The Google 15” which was how every Googler put on 15% of their weight within 3 months of joining Google! I didn’t doubt it one bit.
Another thing that struck me was how the cafe buzzed like college-canteen-meets-super-popular-fancy-restaurant-meets-startup. There seemed to be hundreds of people, mostly young, in their casuals, who looked less like corporate employees but more like people just stepped out for a coffee with their friends.
Time to get back to the meeting room for another session. And after this was the game of treasure hunt. We were given 10 clues, and you go around the whole office- wearing the Noogler cap- picking up a signature from the Googler stationed at each of these spots. What a fun way to familiarize you with the office, right on the first day.
And finally, it was the end of this highly eventful day, and as per true Google tradition, we were then taken to another cafe on the 5th floor to munch on an assortment of snacks which meant chaats and tea, do end the day with, true Google tradition.
My fellow Nooglers and I soon got back to the guesthouse and later went out closely to try the famous Hyderabadi Biryani and then chilled in the room, and I knew that was just the beginning of good things.
(And here I managed to dig up a Facebook status which pretty much sumps up that night.