Today was my first day at Google, and I'm having nearly as hard a time saying anything coherent about it as I did about my last day at Macromedia.
Mostly it was a pretty typical orientation session for a computer company, at least in my limited experience: an HR person talking about benefits and being enthusiastic about the corporate culture, a few geeks asking lots of detailed nitpicky what-if questions. (I'm prone to doing that too, which may be why I notice it. When I do it, it's often because I've gotten so caught up in playing with abstract questions about what happens in hypothetical edge conditions that I've lost track of the fact that there are ten or twenty other people in the room who may not be as interested in those particular details.) I whiled away the time, during the parts that weren't relevant to me, looking at how people were dressed: most of the men were in jeans and semi-informal shirts of various sorts, while most of the women were more neatly and "professionally" dressed. I dressed about as nicely as I'm likely to for work (my blue button-down shirt and best black khakis and Rockport shoes), which was good 'cause they took photos for our badges today.
I considered starting out the new job with a new persona—being friendly and outgoing and introducing myself to people—but instead mostly kept to myself. The woman who sat next to me during most of the orientation session was good at initiating conversation, though, so we did chat a little now and then.
I think that one of the guys in my orientation group was someone I went to middle school with, but I didn't have the energy to go talk with him and find out for sure. I'll drop him a note at some point. (Dropping notes to all the friends-of-friends who work at Google will keep me busy for weeks.) It would be funny if so, 'cause another person I "know" there is an executive who I also went to middle school with, and who I also haven't seen since 8th grade.
I also heard that two engineers I worked with at SGI started at Google today, but I didn't run into them.
I think one reason I always get surly in orientation sessions is that there's a certain brand of corporate quasihumor that a lot of HR people seem to like, and being extroverts they also like people to be having a good time, so they try to coax everyone into appreciating the humor. And if I didn't think something was funny in the first place, it doesn't help when someone I don't know tries to get me to laugh or smile at it regardless. But I think a lot of that can be chalked up to extrovert/introvert differences. Or, y'know, I could just be a curmudgeon.
I confess that it also irks me when someone tries to provide evidence of unique a company is by citing something that every company I've worked at has done. I suspect I'm going to run into that a lot; I think Google likes to think of itself as entirely different from all other companies, but a lot of the specific differences people mention are similar to things that have often been true elsewhere in the past.
But there are some pretty cool things I haven't seen elsewhere before. For example, knowing that a dentist visits the campus once a week will probably make me more likely to actually make a dentist appointment, something I haven't done in much too long (ever since my last dentist stopped taking the insurance I used, and then sent my bill to a collection agency—I certainly should've paid it sooner, but after I'd been a patient there for five years, and had never failed to pay on time before, he should've called me up to let me know there was a problem before calling in a collection agency).
Dunno. Everyone was friendly and nice and helpful, but somehow I ended up grumpy all day. Possibly lack of sleep, possibly just the stress of change. (Change bad!) Possibly just the lack of sunshine; it was overcast and occasionally rainy for much of the day. I got home earlier than I've gotten home from work in ages, but was too tired to do anything productive with my evening.
But with luck, things'll be better tomorrow.