Why are so many young programmers obsessed with getting jobs at Google or Facebook?

Last summer, I interned at Amazon, which is working itself up towards the ranks of Google and Facebook. While I may not have personally chosen to work there full-time, there are many reasons, technical and non-technical, that make these companies incredibly appealing to young engineers like myself:

  1. The network - We’ve heard many stories of successful startups (*cough* Quora *cough*) that are founded by ex-Google or ex-Facebook employees. If someone is interested in entrepreneurship and meeting like-minded individuals to join them on a new venture, then places like Google and Facebook can be the place to be. Of course, prestigious companies/institutions and bright, driven individuals are not completely correlated, and working at somewhere at Google or Facebook is not the only place someone can boost their network.
  2. The status - Through the unfortunate phenomenon of pattern matching in Silicon Valley, a ‘Google’ or ‘Facebook’ stamp on a resume can open up doors of opportunity to appealing jobs, VC funding, or even opportunities outside of tech. This can make new grads, even with interest in working at startups or smaller companies, take on a Google or Facebook offer just to maintain increased opportunities in the future.
  3. Large-scale projects - If someone is interested in writing code that’ll be used by millions of people, or perhaps solving large-scale technical problems, then Facebook and Google are hard to beat. Of course, the caveat is that this is highly dependent upon someone’s team and the opportunities they are offered, and often someone may have to take on projects that get scrapped or don’t have the level of impact they’d anticipated.

That being said, I did choose to forgo an offer to Amazon to work at a much smaller biotech company, where our Engineering team is the size of my last team at Amazon.

While there may be a less explicit ‘obsession’ about startups, young engineers can also derive immense benefits from working at startups, albeit in very different, perhaps more productive, ways.

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