A Day In The Life Of A Google Research Scientist

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What is it like to be a research scientist at Google? originally appeared on Quora: the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Dmitriy Genzel, machine learning engineer, on Quora:

What is it like to be a research scientist at Google? It’s very nice. Google probably has the highest concentration of talent in Computer Science (especially in some subfields like Machine Learning) of any institution on the planet, and in general employs more CS PhDs than any university. This means that there are people around who wrote the book on whatever it is you are interested in. And usually they would be happy to answer any question you may have. All the cutting edge research is presented internally, usually before it makes it out. The tools that these people build are checked in to the Google codebase and you get to use them immediately.

Working at Google in general is very pleasant, as is well-known. The work environment is pleasant, and there are many perks. But for a research scientist the biggest perk is computing resources. If you need 10,000 machines, you can get them, if you want terabytes of data to use, they are available (if you are working on something Google-scale).

One advantage of being a research scientist versus software engineer, is that it’s not necessarily a young man’s game. The average age of software engineers at Google is pretty low (typical for the industry), but research scientists tend to be older, and it is very clear that you can have a lifelong career in this, because many people do. A star researcher can get promoted largely on the basis of their work having major research impact in the field, outside of the company. Engineers don’t have this option usually, they have to do something big inside the company, but researchers can do either.

Overall Google is a lot like Bell Labs in the old days (as I understand it, I am too young to have seen it). While there’s money around, the company spends it fairly freely to promote anything useful. Of course, something that makes money for the company is good, but there’s a strong sense of contributing to human knowledge as being just as good, or better. So far, unlike Bell Labs, the inventions that Google scientists make have been actually used successfully at Google, and have in fact made more money, so I think this approach will continue for awhile. Because the company was founded by graduate students, respect for research seems to be in the company DNA.

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Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/01/05/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-google-research-scientist/

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