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Fridays from the Frontline: Darden MBA Student on Google’s Great Perks

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This week’s Fridays from the Frontline post comes to us from Jimmy Figueroa, a second-year MBA student at UVA’s Darden School of Business just back from his summer internship at Google in San Francisco. A veteran of New York’s financial services sector prior to business school, Figueroa had a no-nonsense view of what to expect from a job and an employer. “It was always a no frills environment where you work hard, work long and perform,” he writes. And if you do well, you’ll get rewarded monetarily. Free cafes, gym classes, game rooms—the companies that have those don’t also offer serious careers, he thought.

Until this summer at Google. Read on to find out why Figueroa is now a believer in Google’s great perks—and how he believes they made him a better employee.

The following post has been republished in its entirety from its original source, “Discover Darden,” the Darden MBA admissions blog.

Ok Google, You Have Great Perks, But Does Any of It Matter?

by Jimmy Figueroa, Darden Class of 2017

The short answer: Yes. The long answer: Probably even more than you think.

I’ll be honest, before I began interning at Google, I was a total skeptic. Why do Google employees talk about their perks all of the time?! Is it really that big of a deal? I want a job that challenges me, I want career growth. I don’t want a micro kitchen, or different cafes, or a standing desk.

But I do, I just didn’t know it at the time. And you should want it for yourself.

Working in New York in various roles in the financial services industry for several years shaped my view of a job and what I should expect from an employer. It was always a no frills environment where you work hard, work long and perform. If you do well you’ll get paid rewardingly, but the idea of free cafes, gym classes and game rooms is a pipe dream. Those companies that give away all that free stuff, they’re cool, but that’s not where the serious careers are. So I thought.

I arrived in Mountain View with a “so-what, another cafe” attitude, and this lasted probably throughout the first week or two. Over time though, it did make a difference. I found myself increasingly venturing off to a cafe, or outside, or a library to do my work. I worked out at the on-campus gym in the mornings, I rented a bike for the summer. I hit the batting cage, took a spinning class with co-workers, grabbed Americano’s from the baristas when I needed it and desserts when I didn’t. And so, I began to feel this sort of freedom I haven’t had before. This mentality that going to work was actually fun and enjoyable, that I could actually look forward to it in the morning. And now, with a clear head and positive frame of mind, Google gets my best self every day. I’m eager to tackle problems, to do more for my team and to be a growing part of the community.

All of this has surprisingly made a positive impact on me, and this is before taking the culture itself into account (which is fantastic, embracing and empowering). Altogether, this heightened level of output should lead to better performance reviews and then, more opportunities. People stay at Google for years and it’s easy to see why. Google enables them to perform well, mobility is encouraged, job opportunities are endless, and new challenges continually await.

So don’t discount perks. Look for them at your next job. You’ll perform better and get farther in your career because of it.