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谷歌工程师:我从阿富汗战场归来

Patricia Sellers 2011年11月29日

一名工程师的战争亲历

谷歌公司的丹•克劳斯在阿富汗美国海军陆战队服役

    每年的退伍军人节(Veteran's Day)是聆听职场人士讲述不同寻常的军事生涯的最佳时节。谷歌公司(Google)软件工程师丹•克劳斯曾请假赴阿富汗服兵役。一年前,这位美国海军陆战队中尉返回国内,带回了他在商业企业中不可能领悟到的经验教训。克劳斯从未想象过自己会成为一名军人,直至一场家庭悲剧促使他改变了自己的职业道路,他也由此成为一个更好的人。34岁的克劳斯现在是谷歌退伍军人协会(Google Veterans Network)的活跃分子之一,这一组织由谷歌约400名退伍军人和其他支持这些非凡人士的谷歌人共同组建。本文即为克劳斯在其军旅生涯中的感悟。

    当我还是哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)的一名学生时,我就收到了好几份工作邀请。就在这个时候,世界发生了改变。9月11日的早晨,我碰巧在市中心,亲眼目睹了世贸双塔倒塌那一幕。

    虽然我不像许多人那样,在那一天失去了亲人,但我个人还是受到了这场悲剧的影响。一个特殊原因是,我的哥哥大卫当时是海军陆战队的一名直升机飞行员。我这位唯一的手足加入海军陆战队的时候,我还是一个留着长发,整日玩滑板的14岁少年。多年来,哥哥经常向我描述他在军队的生活。虽然我很爱听他的故事,但当一名海军陆战队员似乎不像是我未来的发展道路。

    2003年1月22日,大卫在德克萨斯州南部的美国与墨西哥边境执行一次禁毒飞行任务时,他驾驶的眼镜蛇攻击直升机在半空中与另一架直升机发生碰撞坠毁。两架直升机上的4名海军陆战队员全部罹难。

    哥哥遭遇劫难之前,我从未有过当兵的打算。但海军陆战队为他举行葬礼的方式却深深地打动了我。大卫所在中队的所有战友从各地赶来,不可能忽视他们之间的那份战友情。我想更深入地了解,到底是什么东西把这些陆战队员联系在一起,是什么驱使他们风尘仆仆地从全美各地赶来纪念自己的战友。我也回想起911事件。我想找个办法做出点贡献,保护我的亲人。于是,我参加了军事预备队。那年,我26岁。

    我的新兵生活极其刻板。新兵训练营那13周是我人生当中最痛苦的一段日子。但我最终熬出头,顺利毕业,并赢得了“海军陆战队员”这一称号。接着,我去北卡罗来纳州参加海上作战训练,然后又去海军陆战队设在加利福尼亚州莫哈韦沙漠的通讯电子学院(the Marine Corps Communications Electronics School)学习了一段时间。走下开往帕里斯岛的公车15个月之后,我返回纽约,重新开始了哥大的学生生活。每月的某个周末和暑期的两个礼拜,我都会参加海军陆战队的训练活动。

    我下决心成为一名军官,就在我即将从哥伦比亚大学毕业,收拾东西准备上军官训练学校(Officer Candidate School)的时候,我的平民生活不经意间发生了变化。谷歌公司(Google)毫无预兆地给我打了一个电话。一位招募官之前浏览了我在私人网站上的简历,邀请我参加面试。他们为我提供了一份在谷歌纽约公司当网站可靠性工程师的工作。对于一位软件工程师来说,来自谷歌公司的履职邀请简直就是一张游览迪斯尼乐园的门票。“你们能提供更灵活的工作时间吗?”考虑到我的军旅生涯,我问了这位招募官这样一个问题。“当然可以,”她对我说。

    Veteran's Day is an ideal time to hear from one of those rare folks who combine corporate and military careers. Dan Cross, a software engineer at Google (GOOG) and a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, took a leave to serve active duty in Afghanistan, came home a year ago, and brought back lessons that he couldn't have learned in business. While he had never seen himself as the military type until a personal tragedy made him reroute his career, he's a better man for it. Cross, 34, is now an active member of the Google Veterans Network (VetNet), a community of some 400 veterans and other Googlers who support these remarkable people. Here's Cross on what he learned in the war:

    I was a student at Columbia University, with a couple of jobs under my belt, when the world changed. I happened to be downtown on the morning of September 11th and saw the Towers fall.

    While I didn't lose any loved ones that day, like many others, I felt personally affected by the tragedy--especially because my brother David was a Marine helicopter pilot at the time. I was a long-haired, skateboarding 14-year-old when David, my only sibling, joined the Marines. Over the years, my brother described life in the service, and while I loved his stories, being a Marine didn't seem like the path for me.

    On January 22, 2003, David was flying an anti-drug mission along the U.S./Mexican border in South Texas when his Cobra attack helicopter went down in a mid-air collision. Everybody--four Marines in two helicopters--died.

    I never considered a military career until my brother's death. But I was really moved by the way the Marine Corps conducted his funeral. Members of David's squadron came from all over, and it was impossible to ignore the bond they had. I wanted to know more about what linked these Marines--what compelled them to come from all corners of the country to commemorate one of their own. I also thought back to September 11. I wanted to find a way to make a difference and protect the ones I love. So I enlisted in the Reserves. I was 26.

    My life as a recruit was regimented. Boot camp was the most painful 13 weeks of my life, but I suffered it out, graduated and earned the title "Marine." I went on to Marine Combat Training in North Carolina and then to the Marine Corps Communications Electronics School in California's Mojave desert. Fifteen months after stepping off the bus on Parris Island, I returned to New York, to Columbia and to student life. I served with the Marines one weekend a month and during two-week sprints in the summer.

    I decided to become an officer, and just as I was wrapping up at Columbia and preparing for Officer Candidate School, my civilian life changed. Google called me, out of the blue. A recruiter had spotted my resume on my personal website and brought me in for an interview. They offered me a job as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google New York. For a software engineer, a job offer from Google was equivalent to an invitation to Disneyland. "Can you be flexible?" I asked the Google recruiter, thinking of my military commitments. "Yeah, sure," she told me.

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