Follow by Email

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2": Why You Wouldn't Want a Job at Google, Part 2

Yes, I know you're only 20 years old, but what do you want out of life? A job that's a way station, or are you already hungry for more?

In a prior New York Times op-ed entitled "How to Get a Job at Google" (, Thomas Friedman sought to provide advice for youngsters considering college and careers. After describing a meeting with Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president responsible for hiring at Google, Friedman concluded:

"Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work."

In response to Friedman's opinion piece (see:, I agreed with Mr. Bock that "people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world . . . are exceptional human beings." I also observed that my years in college and law school were a waste of time, which did not teach me anything of value.

Today, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2" (, Friedman tells us that he returned to Mr. Bock in search of more advice for job hunters. Friedman concludes this opinion piece by asking him "What’s your best advice for job interviews?" Mr. Bock's response:

“What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.’” And here is how it can create value. “Most people in an interview don’t make explicit their thought process behind how or why they did something and, even if they are able to come up with a compelling story, they are unable to explain their thought process.”

But if you're really a hotshot, i.e. the best of the best of the best, and are better than anyone else at explaining your thought processes and triggering innovation, are you honestly interested in devoting your youth to online searches, data storage and advertising? Google is so big, can you have an impact upon the organization? Sure, the salary and perks are fabulous, and maybe Google is a great way station, but perhaps there's so much more you can do with your talent.

Yes, I know: I'm a fine one to talk. I wasted years with a financial institution, until discovering the courage to leave and take my chances. Perhaps I was not ready to go it on my own until after I turned 50. Fortunately, however, roads can diverge in a wood more than once in a lifetime.


  1. Friedman's thought process: "I think, therefore it is."

  2. JG, you might want to have at look at "Google Employees Confess The Worst Things About Working At Google" (

  3. I made a mistake and actually read this sample of Friedman's writing. My allergic response was immediately triggered and my brain produced only unprintable words.
    Then the question "What's wrong with the country where such pompous idiots make it big?" arose and the answer by "collaborating and adapting" followed.
    What a bastard! What an idiot!