Here we are. My two-year adventure at Startup Life is coming to its end today. It’s time to say goodbye, and spend a couple of minutes reminiscing over everything that has happened during the past two years.
It has been a rocket ship. A rocket ship, I tell you.
I was first introduced to Startup Life and the Finnish startup scene in general, when Tiina, a dear friend of mine told me that one of her friends was looking for team members for a cool program. She told me to check it out. So I did.
It would be belittling to say that I was gently pushed towards getting involved in Startup Life. My friends Liina and Kalle had to – figuratively speaking – give me a solid kick to the butt before I had the courage to set up a job interview with Erika, who was the Program Manager back then. Needless to say, today, I thank Tiina and both Liina and Kalle with all my heart for pushing me to the right direction. And Erika of course, for letting a rookie like me join the team.
I think it’s fair to say now that I didn’t know anything about anything when I first started working at Startup Life. The first months were all about googling words like VC, seed round, scrum, UX, and so forth. Actually, I remember starting my first day at the job by reading the Wikipedia article about the word “startup”. Back then, Startup Life’s official slogan was “learning by doing”. It definitely was the case for me.
Startup Life has been a wild ride full of learning new stuff quickly, meeting hundreds of new, interesting people and ending up in situations that were too amazing to wrap my head around. During my two years of working at Startup Life, we’ve sent 33 students to work at startups in San Francisco. Applications have increased by 150%. Our Facebook likes have grown by over 750%. I’ve traveled to San Francisco three times, and fallen in love with the city. I’ve become convinced that my professional ambitions lie with startups. Maybe I’ll follow the steps of many other Program Managers before me, and apply to Startup Life myself later on.
It would be quite naive to say that Startup Life has changed me. Rather, I’d say that working at Startup Life, and being a part of the startup community, have made me grow faster than I ever could have expected, and into a direction far better than I could ever have hoped for.
I have had the privilege of learning from my Program Manager Erika, who’s one of the most on-top-of-her-shit people I’ve ever met. I have also been lucky enough to get to work with my own superb team mates Eemeli, Henni and Riko, each of whom are friends that I will cherish, and young professionals, who I look up to. I can’t express how excitedly I am looking forward to Henni taking the reins as the new Program Manager, and taking Startup Life to the next level (more about that later).
The professional skills and experience I’ve gathered through Startup Life are immeasurable, and I’ve grown as a person, as cheesy as it sounds. But most importantly (and now I quote another PM of Startup Life, Mikko Hagelberg), my horizon of opportunities has broadened in a way I never thought it would.
After spending 19 years of my life as someone who’d rather say no to new and exciting things, I’ve started doing things that are hard, and saying yes to challenges. Now, I actually feel like I need a regular dose of new and exciting things to keep myself going. A quite welcome change, to be honest.
For the last couple years, I have been trying to convince students in Finnish universities to go work at startups in Silicon Valley, because I sincerely believe that it will flip their worlds upside down, and add 100 times more spin to their careers. I have never been there and done that myself, though. As I’m waiting for that opportunity to unravel in the future, I can happily say that working in the Startup Life team has, to some extent, done the same for me.
Now I’m off to new adventures. Cheers!