Five years ago, I started working at people's dream company. I say that because it was not a dream company for me because I never thought it was within my reach. In June 2018, a lot was happening, and I needed a significant change. The job that I once really enjoyed was falling apart; I had gotten a job offer at a great company but could not start because I was waiting for my immigration status to change. In addition, I had the opportunity to travel to Nigeria after 12 years and went back to Germany for the first time since I moved in 2015. One afternoon, I got a call that changed my life forever.
In this blog post, I will take you on the wild and exciting journey I have been on in my five years at Google.
"I can't believe I'm here"
My first week started with orientation, where I met great people, learned about the company, and got everything I needed to start work. This was the biggest and well-known company I had worked at so far. On my shuttle ride home, I was in tears. I still remember the Nigerian song I was listening to as the bus ride began. The magnitude of landing such a great job dawned on me very slowly. It felt like all the difficult times I had experienced were worth it as they paved the way for me to be right here, working for a company beyond my dreams.
"I feel like this dream company is becoming a nightmare"
It is very difficult to realize that a dream turned really bad. In my first three months of working at Google, I knew that my role was not the right one for me. It felt like I took a huge step back in my career, not by choice. This was a significant issue because I worked very hard to grow my career, and for the first time, I felt like things were out of my control. And sadly, my health was impacted. Six months after starting my new job, I felt the worst I had ever felt in my body and professional life.
"I have to prove to myself that I can make it"
After a few months of suffering, I decided to make a change. People said it was too early for me to know whether this was the right place for me. Some of them advised me to be patient and wait. Those words only frustrated me even more if you know anything about me. For people who did not know all the battles I fought to be where I am today, it was easy for them to say be patient and wait for a year. A thought that kept coming to my mind was that I have been through a lot and succeeded; this would also be possible here.
"I am hopeful, and there is light at the end of the tunnel"
Especially when you are going through challenging times, the people you surround yourself with matter a lot. I had a work friend, a software engineer, and a black woman. She had been at Google for eight years by the time I joined. Her advice was the most useful. She shared how she navigated her career at Google and how helpful a mentor was. I stayed connected with her and also found a mentor. Through our conversations and learning, I understood the company's complexity and discovered paths I could take. I knew that I needed to start a new role. However, I knew this company was still the place for me to be.
"I am happy and have found my place"
One of the greatest lessons I learned from my first year working at Google was that I wanted to do work more aligned with my personal mission of supporting people on their journey. For the past four years, I have been able to do precisely that. In 2019, roughly one year after joining, I started working as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program manager after many years leading software programs. For the first time since I joined the company, I felt like I had arrived, could finally start showcasing my strengths and learning about this new space. A lot of great things have happened in the last few years. After five years, I have been able to find my place, meet great people, contribute positively to the culture of our organization, and develop my career. These are exactly the things I hoped to do at my dream company.
I have never mentioned that I work at Google on any of my platforms. It is a big deal, and I have many feelings about finally saying it. I need to write a whole post about this another time. Today, I am celebrating the beauty that has come from five years that were sometimes very difficult and great most of the time.
One thing is sure: I was successful with the help of people who have made my journey successful. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me, removed roadblocks, created opportunities, introduced me to new people, and reminded me that I deserved to be here at Google.