Sunday, June 9, 2013

This one's going to be a doozy

So...a LOT has happened over a very short period of time, and I think it's about time I get it all down somewhere. Gird your loins, my friends - this is going to be a pretty long update post.

In my last post, I dropped my "I'm going to move to San Francisco come hell or high water!" bomb. This, as so many "sure" things in life do, has changed. San Francisco is still on the menu for me down the road, but a really fantastic, enlightening experience I had at the end of February made me think a little harder about that decision.

Bursting with enthusiasm at my new decision to pack up my entire life and head 800 miles south to the Bay Area, I applied for a couple jobs and promptly got extremely busy with school and other side projects. A couple weeks went by without applying for anything else, then out of the blue, I got a request for a phone interview for the first position - a Social Media and Marketing position with WibiData, a super cool big data start-up located in the Mission.

After bouncing off the walls with excitement for a few days, I snuck into a conference room at work for what felt like the worst phone interview I have ever given in my entire life. I tend to hate talking on the phone no matter who it's with, and adding the pressure of a job interview in an entirely different state for a position I had little to no relevant experience with definitely didn't help that any. After feeling kind of terrible about how I'd done for a couple hours, I threw it to the back of my mind and resolved I'd do better next time, and it was a great learning experience in the meantime. A few days later, to my eternal shock, I got an email from Wibi asking me to come down to SF for a day of in-person interviews with the team.

Even though I obviously was woefully underqualified for the position, and am pretty thankful they saw the same and decided to spare me that particular trial by fire, I can't say enough good things about this whole experience from beginning to end. Everyone at WibiData was so kind to me the entire day - I interviewed with six or seven different people, including their CEO, and I've never felt more challenged and intrigued by a company in my life. As silly as this may sound, the sense I got from everyone there was that they were all at least 3-4 years smarter than I currently am, and rather than coming home super discouraged by that fact, all that experience did was motivate me to give myself the kind of experience I will need to work with people that intelligent in the future. And getting to spend a long weekend in SF (ironically enough, I interviewed on my one-year anniversary with Google) with one of my best friends was a hell of a lot of fun as well.

After I got the phone call saying I might not quite be ready for that kind of position yet, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and started brainstorming how I could give myself the kind of experience employers like WibiData and other tech start-ups would be looking for in team candidates. I remembered completely randomly one day that I'd seen a friend from high school posting about her boyfriend's new brewery on Facebook, so I did a little digging and found the name of the brewery. Googling brought up their website, and when I saw its initial state, I decided to email my friend and ask if the brewery could use any help getting their site and social media into better shape. And thus, my involvement with Seapine Brewing Company was born!

I've had an absolute blast helping out with the brewery so far. I got my Class 12 so I could pour at summer brewfest events, as well as in their taproom when it finally opens on June 15th. With a ton of help from a friend, I migrated the entire site away from GoDaddy to a better hosting provider after the site started experiencing significant server-side lag issues. I've cleaned up the site a bunch from its original state, and although it still looks pretty amateur, I'm looking forward to having some time this summer to teach myself how to do a lot more with it than what I'm currently capable of. In addition to the site, I've taken over all social media channels for the brewery - they had a Facebook page already, but I set them up on Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr as well. Finding ways to grow their following on those pages while not being super established throughout the city just yet has been a really interesting challenge, and one that I'll be carrying on for another company soon, because...

I was just offered a new position last week as the Sales and Marketing Coordinator at Spectrum Networks! Their situation is so strangely parallel to where Seapine was at when I came on board that I'm still a little shocked at how perfect the timing for all of this has been. I have a friend who works at CondoInternet (Spectrum is the more business-centric parent company of CondoInternet, which focuses on gigabit internet in residential buildings), and her and I worked really well together while we were both at Google, so I'm very optimistic as to how things will go with our teamwork at Spectrum. My job will be two-fold - I'll be helping organize their back-end operations, and will be helping them develop their industry presence and reputation through various social media and other marketing outlets.

Basically, this job promises to be the first job I've held as an adult where I'll actually be trusted with things of greater importance. My first "grown-up job", if you will. Working at the firm taught me a lot in the way of navigating office politics and not only holding down a professional position, but doing it very well, and moving upwards in terms of trust and responsibility. My position at Google started well - for the first 8 or 9 months, I was writing policy and procedure, sandboxing new workflows, offering recommendations for future provider/Google interactions, training and mentoring people on my team, and basically buzzing around in a happy, frenetic flurry of activity. For the last 5 or 6 months, however, the team hasn't needed someone who can wear a lot of different hats. My ability to have any kind of dramatic impact on what the team is doing has shrunk down to arguing policy minutiae, and my days have filled up with drone work even more mindless than most of the basic filing and data entry I did at the firm. If I'm not continually engaged with what I'm doing for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I tend to sink into a pretty unhappy apathy, and spending the last several months in such a state made my experiences with WibiData and Seapine have been incredible for my sanity.

And so, as I sit here in Zoka in Greenlake typing away, facing my last week of work at Google, my new start at Spectrum, and only one quarter (this fall) to go before I'm finally holding my master's degree, I think things are finally starting to really look bright in my future. Next time I post it probably won't be as full of feelings as this one, but for now, all these feelings are more than okay with me.

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