What’s it like to be a Software Engineer? — Ask a Googler

What’s it like to be a Software Engineer? — Ask a Googler


Hi, I’m Adrienne Porter Felt and I’m a
software engineer and manager on the Google Chrome team. I think of myself kind of like a fairy godmother. I go around the Chrome team spreading the joy of two
things: the first is usable security and the second is data-driven product
development. Over the last five years my job has changed a lot. When I first
started, my job was focused on fixing a very specific problem, “How do I make
warnings better?” Then over time it expanded to “How do I make all security and UI in Chrome better?” And now I’m starting to expand out to other teams
like metrics, autofill and payments where there are broader problems affecting the
whole Chrome team and I am using the skills I learned earlier and applying
them to a broader scope. I now spend a lot of time reviewing other people’s
code, writing design docs to help other people figure out what they should be building, and meeting with stakeholders to understand what they
should be implementing and why. I love working on Chrome because people use it. There’s something like 2 billion people who are using Chrome and I really like
that. It means that the work that I’m doing is actually making the daily lives
of people easier and in many ways safer and I really value that. I love
that, you know, I can show my friends and it’s like, “I built that” or
“Oh I helped them figure out how to launch that.” I really appreciate
having that real-world impact on people’s lives. Because a) I really like Chrome. I think
it’s a great product. I love that it’s open source, I love that I’m able to talk
about what I work on, I love that I see people using the thing I built. And b) Honestly because of my manager. I’ve had the same manager for several years now
and there’s a saying people don’t leave bad teams, they leave bad managers. And I think the reverse is also true, which is that people stay because of good
managers. I feel like I’m able to trust my manager and she’s found growth
opportunities for me as I wanted to go looking for growth opportunities. And as
a result I’ve been happy staying at Google. One thing I like about Google’s
culture is the culture around code reviews. So at Google, any time you’re
trying to land code, at least one other person, often two or three, also reviews
your code to give feedback before you’re allowed to land it. And as part of that
process, people are encouraged to ask questions of their reviewers and the reviewers are encouraged to get candid but hopefully constructive
and friendly feedback. I’ve learned a lot in this process. A good code reviewer
really makes your your job easier. They teach you things that help you write
better code than what you started with. I think it’s a really important part of
the culture. What I’ve found in my experience is that
if you have a good idea, if you’re able to back it up with a strong argument,
with data, if you’re able to show results, people are interested in your idea, no
matter how junior you are or even if you’re in a different part of the
company.

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