That’s how long it has been since I joined LearnVest. Six months is the amount of time that has gone by since I decided to leave the only place that I’ve ever known as home to move to one of the most cutthroat cities in the world. Six months have passed since I fled the grey walls of my cubicle at my stable job to sit at an Ikea desk in an open office.
Before leaving Tampa, I spent two years as a developer at a large bank. I worked in an office park that had a couple thousand employees. I wouldn’t be far off if I were to say I saw a new face everyday. People had routines which included daily strolls around our office’s pond, leaving at 5PM everyday, and daily meetings which often consumed more of the day than many engineers would ever be comfortable committing to. This environment slowed everything down. For those who haven’t worked in a large corporation or the government before, I can assure you that the talk of everything moving slower is absolutely true. For those who have been in this environment, I imagine you are nodding your heads in agreement as you read this passage.
I craved something more. There had to be more to the world of tech than what I had experienced. I had read blogs about Y-Combinator, Google’s lavish perks, and company-wide happy hours. I was determined to see if the grass was greener on the other side. After spending time speaking with my wife, Melissa, about what I wanted to do, we decided to target New York as our next home. I submitted my resume to the hottest companies with operations in the city: Google, Amazon, and Facebook. I also decided to check out some of the smaller companies that I had read about: LearnVest, Meetup, and Urban Compass. In the end, I found myself at LearnVest and couldn’t be happier.
From my first day with the company, I was in the code. By the end of my first week, I had pushed to Github a couple times and deployed my changes. My coworkers seemed more interested in building friendships rather than finding out what value I could provide them to advance their careers. The work hard, play hard philosophy was clearly present in the company culture. Everything about the place has been great, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have my concerns.
Prior to moving to New York, I had lived in the same area code my entire life. The move wasn’t cheap and all of my family was left one thousand miles away. The large support system that was always in place was no longer physically available. Being in a startup, things can get hectic in the trenches. To meet deadlines, extra hours have to be put in and duties outside of a person’s job description need to be completed. Sometimes, this can push a person to the edge of sanity. At this moment, one begins to doubt why he/she left the relaxing job with the well known company for the company that is at such an early stage.
The answer to why I was right to make the switch lies in the benefits of working for a startup. With the challenges I have faced in my short time with LearnVest, I have become a stronger developer, a more effective communicator, and a better leader. My growth as a professional is trending up at a much greater rate than it did in the first couple years of my career. I believe that the experiences that I am currently having will prove to be extremely beneficial later in my career. Additionally, the work is fun. The people I meet and work with everyday love what they do. The energy is contagious, making it exciting to go into work everyday.
If you are a young developer in a huge corporation thinking the job is nothing more then a paycheck, I highly recommend you look into a startup. You will learn more in six months than you would have thought possible. I’m willing to bet that the change of scenery will remind you of the love for building that took you down the path of being a developer in the first place.