Many college students dread the prospect of getting a “real” job after graduation, seeing it as a token of adulthood and the end of fun.
But Ann Arbor’s new Google office in the McKinley Town Center on South Division Street – where the mixing of work and play is not only allowed, it’s encouraged – is attracting graduates across the country with its innovative approach to work and life.
“I wanted to be a part of a company that was changing the way things were done,” said Matthew Neagle, a University alum who has been employed by Google for the past year and a half and recently transferred to Ann Arbor from California. “That freshness and that kind of feeling of making things happen and working things out and sort of running at full speed is exciting.”
Neagle is one of more than 100 employees at the Ann Arbor office who benefit from the many amenities Google offers its employees, referred to internally as “Googlers.”
Over the next five years, Google, whose employee-friendly environment prompted Fortune magazine to rate it the number one place to work in 2007, will increase its workforce at the Ann Arbor branch to as many as 1000 people. But prospective applicants should be prepared to face fierce competition. According to CNN, Google receives an application about every 25 seconds.
Neagle said the rapid growth of the company was one of the things that first attracted him to apply. “I knew that would mean opportunity to grow myself,” he said.
In the office, which officially opened its doors on May 17, Google employees can enjoy a panoramic view of Ann Arbor while they lounge in beanbags and rolling chairs. Numerous items are colored in the California-based company’s signature color scheme of reds, yellows, greens and blues.
Googlers’ desks, located in the center of the office, are decorated with items ranging from Mrs. Potato Head figures to lava lamps and blow-up superheroes.
Grady Burnett, head of online sales and operations at the office, said the building was specifically designed so that employees could “have collaborative spaces around the windows, so they can meet up and talk.”
To capture emerging creativity at any moment, dry-erase boards adorn the walls of conference rooms, personal workspaces and even hallways, and Googlers can scrawl new ideas or designs on them between meetings.
Google managers hope that this environment will promote teamwork and advance the development of Google’s AdWords, a program that allows advertisers access to potential customers by displaying advertisements for products that are related to words a person types into the Google search engine.
Employees also have access to a variety of on-site services. The office is equipped with a massage room and a room where women can nurse their babies. A gym is located in the basement, as is as a bike locker for those who choose to ride to work.
The cafeteria, which provides Googlers with three free meals a day, was designed to look more like a caf