Hello from San Francisco! Juhis, 26, computer science student from University of Turku and for the last two months been interning at Chartio.
All it really takes is some courage and craziness and most importantly, belief in yourself to apply, ace the interview and move to the other side of the world to learn by working with the best talent in the world. My story starts from last year when I had applied for exchange studies in US and didn’t even make through the first phase of being recommended by my university. So a friend of mine, Mikko, encouraged me to apply to Startup Life and after a hard-working summer, I decided that was the way to go.
In early October 2013, I sent my application to Startup Life and then things started to happen really fast. On October 10th, I got my first pre-interview task which I completely failed. Horribly. I had couple of easy programming exercises – things been teaching to my students in university – but interviews are tough. I froze, forgot everything I knew and it was no big surprise that the following night I got an email that the process was over.
After that, 10 days with nothing and I had already started to doubt this whole thing. But on 21st, I happened to check my LinkedIn profile and noticed an email from a company called Chartio. Day after, I got another interview and things started to look brighter. Then, on 23rd I finally had my interview with Chartio. At this point, I really don’t remember anything about it. I remember being quite ok with programming assignments and felt good about the people interviewing me. I was used to recruit process of bigger Finnish companies where it takes at least week or two for things to happen. I had my interview on 23rd 22.30, got an offer 24th 04.04 and accepted the offer 24th 07.26. So in less than 12 hours after the interview, I had a job in San Francisco. You can imagine me jumping and dancing around my apartment after that.
I had really no idea what to expect. What I had heard and read about other’s experiences, every company is different. And after being here for the last two months, I totally agree with that. I love the way my company took care of me at the beginning: they took care of an apartment for me, picked me up at the airport, picked me up at my apartment the next morning and took me to company lunch.
At Chartio, we are building a platform for data visualization. Our customers can connect their datasources: databases, Google Analytics, Rackspace, CSV files and others to our platform and create dashboards of charts. I have had high interest in data visualization and other data science-y things for some years so working at Chartio combines the dream of being in San Francisco with actually working with something I love.
First couple of weeks my job was to fix bugs and implement enhancements in order to get used to the workflow and the codebase. My advice for new interns is the same as is often said in this blog. Ask, ask, ask. It’s your job to make sure you get up to the speed as fast as possible. I sometimes have the feeling I should’ve asked more often but I was able to catch the speed within couple of weeks. After that my first own project was implementing Themesfor the dashboards.
And after that? No one knows. And that’s the best part: you never know what happens the next day, next week or next month. But most possibly, you’ll have much fun doing it.
But Startup Life experience would only be half as great if it was all work and no fun. At work, we have different activities we do together in addition to working hard: karaoke nights, trip to Lake Tahoe, video games and after work beers. And when the company doesn’t offer something, fellow Startup Lifers do. You never have to eat or drink alone if you don’t want to. Since the first week, I was warmly welcomed to the group of lifers and their friends. The days I’ve eaten dinner alone can be counted with fingers of one hand. Having strong community really helps to settle here.
I think everyone should try working outside their home country at least once before they are 30. Startup Life is the easiest and probably the most fun way to do it. But be warned: after living and working here, returning back home can be difficult.
A personal blog of my adventures in San Francisco can be found at
Here. It is written in Finnish so that my mom can also see what his son is doing.