Why this Google engineer gave up on Silicon Valley – Business Insider – Business Insider
By all accounts, including her own, Nupur Dave had the dream
A native of India, she had spent the past decade living in the
US. She was working at Google at the perk-filled
“Googleplex” headquarters in Mountain View, California, at a job
she loved. And she had obtained a permanent residence,
her green card.
She was a manager for a part of Google called Network
Content Distribution, the network tech that makes Google run
faster (in geek speak: it’s Google’s homegrown alternative to a
content distribution network like Akamai).
And the opportunities for promotion were plentiful.
“I got to travel all over the world, attend conferences,”
she told Business Insider.”It was great. The team was great. It
was really good job.”
There was just one problem. She was growing increasingly unhappy
with this Silicon Valley dream life.
Expensive and lonely
For one thing, the cost of living was a hardship. While she was
paid well, it wasn’t enough to get ahead in the costly Bay Area,
much less buy a house.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The idea that all Googlers are wealthy is a “myth,” she told
Business Insider. While a highly specialized software engineer or
a high performance manager are definitely well compensated
(some of them make seven figures between pay and stock), for many
rank-and-file Google employees, “Google is a medium payer,” she
For instance, salaries for a technical program manager at
Google range from $93,837 to $176,500,
according to Glassdoor. While that’s not chicken
scratch, when you factor in what it costs to live in the Valley,
those salaries don’t go far.
“I always rented,” she said, and she often had a roommate,
But money wasn’t her main problem: loneliness was worse. She
missed her family in India. She missed her home country. She was
single. Working long hours for Google made it hard to meet
someone and have a relationship, she said. And while there is
social prestige in the Valley attached to being an engineer at
Google, it also intimidated some men, she felt.
She became very involved with the Indian Google Network.
Google has a large contingent of India ex-pats (including CEO
Sundar Pichai) in Mountain View, and the Indian network is one of
many Google diversity groups.
“I founded the Women’s Cricket team at Google. And with the India
Google network, I organized a lot of events. I had a life. I
really had a lot of friends, I’m a very social person,” she said.
It didn’t stop that nagging feeling, though.
At one point, Dave tried shaking up her life by moving
to the trendy city of San Francisco. Walk everywhere. Great
food. Gorgeous views.
But that soon became exhausting. She wound up with a three-hour
commute, getting home each night at 8:30 p.m. She hired help from
TaskRabbit to do the cleaning and the chores. But her rent
was higher, as were other costs, and she couldn’t afford it at
the level that she needed.
“I was becoming sadder and sadder,” she said. The exhaustion of
living in San Francisco also meant less time to do her hobby,
photography for her recipe blog.
Then, during a visit home for her cousin’s wedding, she was
talking with her 8-year-old nephew who asked her why she lived in
America. The only answer she could think of was, “Because
my job is good.”
Less pay, more … everything
Was she really living for a job? Could she have both? A
life near her family in India and Google?She
searched for and landed a Google job in India of parallel
responsibility as a Technical Program Manager for
Google For Work. But it involved a big pay
She didn’t decide to take it until she had a conversation with a
stranger on a plane ride who happened to be a PhD from MIT
in economics and a law professor. He told her the Google India
job could have a big and helpful economic impact for her home
country. And the salary was enough for her to buy her own house
It’s now been seven months and she says she’s way happier.
“My stress levels have been reduced to one tenth what they
were. I used to sleep for 5 hours a night in the U.S. In
India. I sleep for 8 hours now,” she says.
She wrote a post about leaving America for India
that went viral on LinkedIn and has since received thousands
of messages from people.
Her advice to other U.S. immigrants is “don’t torture yourself”
but to “trust your gut.” It will tell you if the U.S. is your
true home, or if it “is not your destiny.”