Hey there, my name is Andrei and I’m a Master’s Degree student in Machine Learning and Data Mining in Aalto University. I’m originally from Romania and came to Finland to study out of curiosity. I applied for Startup Life last fall, and I’m really glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it! I know it might not be that easy, but it’s the best decision to make, and it’s very rewarding! I confess that I was really nervous before landing to San Francisco airport, but that’s completely normal and it means it’s a moment you will remember for years to come.
I found out about Startup Life out of pure luck, while I was in a classroom for which I registered late and there was a quick presentation about Startup Life in the beginning of the lecture. So if you’re reading this, then you’re way ahead of me! I can tell you that in the past I applied to big companies like Google, Mozilla and several others, and I went through some technical interviews there. They were way harder than any interview I had with the startups. I failed all the interviews to the big guys, but I never stopped wanting to visit America, one way or another. So you might understand how happy I was once I received a job offer through Startup Life!
The way I see it (and I have adopted this mindset from a smart Romanian girl I met) is that all the interviews that you might take are not actually tests, but opportunities for you to get better at taking those interviews. So even if you’re nervous, you’ll get better in time, by tackling more and more interviews. Of course you should always prepare for them, but in the end, you really have nothing to loose. You can only improve your interview skills, so why fear them? With that in mind I urge you to apply to startups, and try adopting that mindset if you haven’t already.
Regarding the internship itself in Silicon Valley, you have no need to be afraid of being alone here! I have found my own workplace to be really awesome, I like all my colleagues and can say we will become good friends! We spend time together outside of office, too. Once, for example, we went at one of my coworker’s place and cooked hotpot, learned how to properly open a coconut from a Singaporean, played video games, tried doing one arm pull ups and got to meet Stanford alumni and students! In addition to mingling with my workmates, I often meet up with other Startup Lifers, too. For example, I recently went to play basketball in a park with ten other Finnish people. I’ll go again soon, as it was really nice (and my basketball skills are lacking, so it’s a good way to improve). Needless to say it was really sunny outside, so we had a very nice weather and wearing shorts and t-shirts was not a problem.
I’ve only been here for a month, so I really can’t tell you more yet. I can tell you this, though: I’m totally enjoying my stay here! I have so many things to do here, like going to LA, Vegas, Grand Canyon, trying to surf and swimming in the ocean, oh boy oh boy!
Andrei is one of the candidates of last year’s second batch, who landed an internship in the SF Bay Area. He’s now working as a Software Developer at Crowdbooster in Palo Alto.