Today was my last day at Google.
After a set of 5 onsite interviews, I joined Google as a new grad 4 years ago. With a shiny new badge and laptop, I was excited to make an impact on how users communicate via email. I was joining Inbox by Gmail, a product I absolutely loved. I worked with some of the smartest engineers and made great friends. Being my first job, I still remember the day I received my first pay check. Finally I could visit all the places on my bucket list and I was ready to fill my passport with stamps from all around the world. I bought a used motorcycle, started renting cars on most weekends and began planning road trips.
After more than an year on Gmail in India, I moved to California to work with YouTube. Directr was a startup that got acquired by Google and got renamed to YouTube Director. I worked with them on video ads creation as the first engineer on the frontend of YouTube Director Mix, a tool for bulk video ads creation. That was the time I spent all my free time on California’s roads, beaches and national parks. I bought a road bike, a car and a tent and drove over 30,000 miles in a year excluding driving to/from work. After a successful launch of Director Mix, I moved on to work on the area I’m most passionate about – Travel.
Working on Travel
My most recent team at Google was the Hotels Search team where I revamped the review writing and serving experience for hotels. I got to work on many products where users can write a hotel review like Google Maps and Search. It was an experience where I could relate myself with the end users. This was the most satisfying part of my career so far. The perks and discounts of working on Travel were insane! I have stayed in most Marriotts for under $50 and have rented Camaros and Mustangs for $30.
Other than weekend trips, I went on team offsites in Krabi, Mauritius and Hawaii to business trips in Tokyo, Seattle and Toronto. I taught a Machine Learning class in Malaysia and volunteered on statewide tours of Alabama, North Carolina, New Mexico and others for community events organized by Google. This was a great experience as that is how I made friends and connections at Google outside software engineering, interacted with users of our products and explored new places around the world.
Flexibility to Travel
I tried to make the best use of 212 weekends as a Googler. Google allowed me the flexibility to work from different places. Moving from Google India to different offices in California is one example. Other than that, I visited offices in 24 cities, occasionally working from a different office on a Friday or Monday to avoid expensive flights just before or after the weekend.
Google has an amazing community of friendly people who help each other. A lot of Googlers have shared feedback on my itineraries, given pointers to hidden gems, and helped in figuring out the best way to use airline and hotel reward points. There’s a lot I’ve learnt about planning trips from others in the company.
The pain of waking up early for the sunrise hike, the adrenaline rush of skydiving and rafting, the bike rides and the camping trips have built memories for a lifetime and an incurable addiction for traveling. Other than planning trips for myself, I frequently plan itineraries for friends when they travel. To share this more widely, I’m starting this blog today where I’ll write about my experiences planning travel for the past 212 weekends and upcoming weekends as I travel. I’d love to know what kind of posts you’d like to see here and any feedback on whatever I’ve written so far.
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