We went to Google with our daughters for the day. Here’s what we saw.
Editor’s Note: Every other year, Google hosts “Take Your Parents to Work Day,” when parents of Googlers visit the campus and get a glimpse of what it’s like to work there. There are lots of activities to keep the parents busy, and snacks to keep them fed. To mark the occasion, the proud moms of the Keyword editors stepped in to share their perspective of the day’s activities.
First day of Google
Gregoria (mom of Elisabeth): When my husband and I arrived on campus, it felt like first day of school—but this time, our daughter was the one taking us by the hand. We spent the morning checking out the activities at the “expo,” starting at the CodeLab where, after a few minutes of tinkering, I realized that I needed a basic knowledge of HTML. That was the end of that, so we moved on to a lesson on mindful eating and then a demo from the Google Ergonomics team, who help Googlers set up their desks to make them as comfortable as possible. A piece of feedback for next year: let me take a Google Ergonomics specialist with me to my office!
Lisbeth (mom of Emily): The atmosphere was festive: part open house, part Renaissance Faire. Stations to braid Google-colored ribbons into our hair or paint the green Android guy on our faces would not have seemed out of place. Proud but slightly dazzled parents trailed after their Googlers, listening as the young folks took charge. Photo ops and pink shirts were everywhere.
Gregoria: Speaking of photo ops, one of the best moments of the day was learning how to do a Boomerang.
Lisbeth: We marveled at the bravery of guests trying out silent disco [ed note: yes, we definitely had to explain what this was]. There was a station where people could record themselves speaking to help improve the Google Assistant’s voice recognition, and I lent my not-very-unusual voice patterns to the “Ok, Google…” database of pronunciation in English.
Seeing the sights at the Googleplex
Lisbeth: We visited Stan, the T-rex; the bocce ball courts; the Oreo guy … the egrets! We shared some introductions with people we met along the paths and took turns taking each other’s photos. We ate lots of snacks.Gregoria: You see the Google brand everywhere on campus, especially on the t-shirts of the happy, casually dressed Googlers. I love all the flair—the bikes, the adirondack chairs, a giant Android peeking out of the second floor of a building (I wonder what goes on in that building?), the many types of flavored spa water.
Meeting of … the moms
Lisbeth: Emily and Elisabeth’s team had a special “parent edition” of their weekly meeting. Some parents even joined in via Google Hangouts. Now I have a better idea of where my Googler spends her days and a better feel for the personalities of her colleagues. Meeting other parents gave me another little window into the environments that shaped the team members. Listening to everyone describe themselves and their work was a favorite part of the event—second only to spending a whole day knocking around with my sweet Emily.
Gregoria: For a lot of us parents it’s hard to understand what our kids do day-to-day at Google. I got a glimpse into my daughter’s work day and it was really special to see firsthand an environment that supports her and encourages her to grow and learn. I also enjoyed meeting the parents of her teammates—now I know why their children are brilliant!
TGIF: the day ends in harmony
Gregoria: Lots of food trucks showed up before TGIF—Google’s weekly company-wide meeting—and per Elisabeth’s advice, we had to look at every truck before deciding what to order. After surveying our options, we listened to Googlepella, one of Google’s super talented a capella groups. Yes, Google has more than one a capella group … apparently we had just missed a performance from the Alphabeats.
Lisbeth: Walking around before TGIF, I asked Emily, “What are those tents?” She replied, in her understated way, "I think they're just rest-y things."
Lisbeth: We finished the day in the amphitheatre, where Sergey and Sundar fielded questions with quick wit and wisdom.
Gregoria: I admire a CEO who takes the time to answer questions from nosy parents. I liked the part of the presentation when they talked about the Google Assistant, which I downloaded on my iPhone. But I’m still waiting for my Googler to teach me how to use it …
Lisbeth: Google is still big and mysterious. The world’s future is uncertain as ever. But it is a comfort to know that smart, conscientious, dedicated people are working to meet the challenges we face.