Report from a new Google technical writer

I’m a Noogler! Now that I’ve been at Google for a couple of weeks, I’m managing to drink from the fire hose without spluttering too much, and I’m learning my way around the technology. I’ve even published a “hallo world” documentation update.

So, what’s it like working at Google? It’s just plain awesome. The people are friendly, inquiring, bright, welcoming, intense, very very smart, and fun. The technology is coolth instantiated. What strikes me most is the scale of things. Google is huge, in every respect: in the numbers of Googlers, customers, and products, in the daring and innovation evidenced in the products, in the beauty of the office spaces, and in the welcome given to Nooglers like me.

I’ve spent the past two weeks doing orientation classes, meeting people, and learning how to use the in-house tools. I published my first documentation update. It was a small change to the page on usage limits in the Google Maps JavaScript API. To make the change, I had to find my way around the bug tracker, version control, editing, and publishing tools.

I’m based in Sydney, where much of the Google Maps development team hangs out. One week after starting work, I hopped on a plane to California, to meet the rest of the team. “Visiting the mother ship,” Googlers call it. The Google main campus is in Mountain View, about 60 kilometres south of San Francisco.

Have you seen the movie The Internship? I haven’t yet. I guess it’s a “must see” for me now!

This photo shows one of the Google buildings on the Mountain View campus. For more photos, visit my bookworm’s blog: Google in Mountain View, CA.

Google campus at Mountain View, CA

The Mountain View campus is big. It takes half an hour to walk from one end to the other. After doing that a couple of times, I plucked up the courage to try one of the Google bikes. Googlers pick them up and drop them off as needed. You can tell them by their colours:

A Google bike

At this point, there are two burning questions in every technical writer’s mind:

  • Will I have to start using US spelling and syntax? I guess so. 🙂
  • Do Googlers like chocolate? In answer to that, I’ll just say that my manager took the team to visit The Chocolate Garage in Palo Alto. What a great experience that was. We tasted such a variety of chocolates, from caramel-like smoothness to suprising saltiness. My favourite was the Madagascar 67% dark chocolate with habañero sea salt, made by Patric. As it touches your tongue, you feel the sharp salty bite of the chili. Then the chocolate kicks in, and the effect keeps changing until it leaves your taste buds feeling refreshed and ready for more.

Patric handcrafted chocolate

Want to know more? My bookmark, the Travelling Worm, has pictures of the Google campus and Mountain view: Google in Mountain View, CA.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 4 August 2013, in Google, technical writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Great to see you in Google, Sarah. At Atlassian, you were a true user’s advocate and I trust you will do the same in Google. Neither I work at Atlassian or Google. I came to know all this from your blog.

    I am technical writer from India and I must say that your blog was amongst the ones that helped me get into the field.

    With you, we will have more sneak-peek into the life of a tech writer at Google.

    • Hallo Ruso

      It’s great to hear that you’ve entered the field of technical writing, and it’s an honour that my blog played a part.

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I’ve been very lucky in the companies I’ve worked for. I hope your tech writing career is as kind to you as mine has been so far!


  2. Is the same Google Maps that I just downloaded for my iPhone5? If yes, it is awesome. I love it. So glad you are at Google. Do they still have Segways there for use on campus?

    I’m at a dynamic startup in SOMA called AppDynamics and we use Confluence and JIRA, so I do miss your posts about Confluence! It’s awesome too.

    • Halloooo Pamela

      Yes, it’s the same Google Maps. It’s pretty cool. I’m working on the API docs, but those for the JavaScript API rather than the iOS docs.

      I haven’t spotted a Segway here yet, but there are bikes and weird circular multi-person pedal vehicles too. And one of the buildings has a skateboard ramp, inside the building!

      AppDynamics sounds awesome. SOMA – is that “south of Market” in San Francisco?


      • Yes, SOMA = South of Market. I know the Atlassian site in SF is also south of Market. I interviewed there last year, although I was not the first choice, I enjoyed my interview experience and ended up at AppDynamics, so it all worked out for the best. I know you will do great things at Google as you did at Atlassian.

  3. Interesting article. I’m late to the party but what are those statues in the Google complex area?

    • Hallo Jam
      That’s a good question. I don’t know what the statues are. Maybe there was an exhibition of sculptures happening at the time I took the photo.

  1. Pingback: Google in Mountain View, CA | Travelling Worm

  2. Pingback: What it takes to become a NOOGLER ! | CampusWhizz

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