Conventional wisdom says that if you are just starting out in your career and Google offers you a job, take it! Having Google — or Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. — on your resume will open doors for life.
Indeed, Gayle Laakmann McDowell, who worked as a software programmer for Microsoft, Apple and Google and then wrote some career advice books, offered this advice in 2011:
"Don’t join a start-up when you graduate. Or, at least, don’t join a small, unknown start-up if you can instead get into one of the top big tech companies. ... most start-ups fail ... On the other hand, when you work for Google, Amazon, Microsoft or Facebook (and other top tech companies), that credibility will stick with you for a long, long time."
At my first startup I met Reed Hastings (who was the CEO) [via Pure Software]. The folks at that startup taught me how to negotiate, how to run an engineering team, and most of all, how to respond when engineering management doesn't appreciate engineering. The company IPO'd and I learned a lot about how to manage stock options that way.
At my second startup, I met Jeff Rothschild, Steve Grimm, Marc Kwiatkoski [from Facebook] ... Kwiatkowski taught me everything I know about how to do releases, a key skill that Google would hire me for 5 years later. Note that even if I'd missed out at Google, Jeff would have grabbed me for Facebook, and I could have joined Reed again for Netflix.
... if you join a startup, you're learning everything about a company and engineering. If you join a big company, you're learning a lot about a very little domain, and if you want to get anywhere, you'd better learn how to be a great office politician.
There are plenty of startups that will be ... negative to your career. ... working with world-class people means the startup already has (even if small) somewhat of an elite reputation and that funding isn't an issue, so you'll be able to start on full salary. If the business co-founder is telling you to accept a third of what Google would pay you, he's not world class.
And another software engineer, one that doesn't have Google on his resume, yet, added this:
If you turn down an offer from Google it's not like you're locked out forever. They'll continue to recruit you.
However, if Google does keep calling, you might want to eventually say yes. It was named No. 1 on Fortune's 2014 List of the 100 Best Companies To Work For.
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