Last Saturday we had a Startuplifers picnic in Dolores Park. Now, if you’ve never heard of Dolores Park, I’d describe it as a Finnish park during vappu, but vappu never ends there. In the spirit of the park, we had a couple of beers to get the honesty out of our current Startuplifers, and Aleksandr, Joel & Kasperi shared their thoughts on living the startup life in San Francisco.

So, let’s get down to it. What do you like most about living in SF?
“Living here is simply quite nice: great weather, awesome work environment, good pay and benefits!” Kasperi says.
“Yeah, the weather is a big plus for me”, Aleksandr says, “You actually get to enjoy sun in October. There is a great beach for beginners to surf 30 minutes from the city. That has been a lifelong dream of mine!”
“There’s so much to see and experience in the San Francisco Bay Area”, Kasperi adds.

Joel enjoys how easy it is to meet people: “There are lots of people coming to SF just for a short period of time, so the meetup culture is rich here. You can easily join a beach volleyball team, attend a conference about the latest innovations in VR, or join Uber’s meetup where they talk about how their data is handled. And of course, drink cheap California wine with other international travelers!”

What’s the ugly truth about living in SF?
Joel: “It is expensive here. I usually spend over 1000 dollars a month just on food.” Kasperi agrees on the costliness: “Housing is really expensive. Luckily the salaries here usually compensate for that. Plus, the food costs can be low, if your company provides you free food!”
Most of the early stage startups won’t offer that, but as startups grow, they’ll do just about anything from private chefs to masseurs in order to keep their employees happy and productive.

“Also, in the beginning, you are probably terrified of all the homeless people. But after a while, you get used to them – sad but true”, Joel adds.
“I think there’s an interesting contrast between all the sterile, high tech startup offices and the reality of all the people living in the streets”, Aleks says, “To me, this place is very diverse, but ignorant at the same time. All types of people are living in the city, but there’s not much synergy going on here.”

And as the program is called Startuplifers, how is work at the startups here?
Aleks: “I’m working with people who truly care about my development. I really like learning a ton of new stuff, and that’s highly appreciated here. I might be prototyping with Sketch and React one month, mastering 400 line SQL queries the next one, and so on. I’m always looking forward to what I will be doing and learning next.”
“I admire how well people here are able to switch between tasks”, Joel comments.
Kasperi comps his fellow lifers and adds: “I get to work with brilliant people, and I’m learning faster than anywhere else. In addition, I don’t mind having this on my resume.”

Any final words to the people who are thinking about applying?
Joel: “The application process itself is a good place to learn – and you can’t lose anything!”
“The interviews can be stressful, I had four interviews before I got the job”, Aleksandr warns, and adds: “But the program itself? It’s ridiculous that you even need to convince people to apply!”
“I think it’s a good option for people who are thinking about doing an exchange semester. You get the same kind of social experience, you leave your comfort zone, and you get to travel in the US”, says Joel.
“The visa process to work in the US would require legal help, travel agencies and sponsoring organizations, making it nearly impossible for individual students. Startuplifers has all these covered, and made as simple as possible”, Kasperi notes, “And honestly, you don’t have to be Superman or want to be a serial entrepreneur to come here and work.”

Aleksandr is working as a Product Designer at a company that is helping consumers find the healthcare they need. Joel is doing software engineering at a startup that’s trying to disrupt the PR world, and Kasperi is working on data science at a company that is crowdsourcing hackers.

Startuplifers is an internship program that finds the most suitable work opportunities for you in the biggest startup hubs in the world. We coach you with applications and interviews, and help you with the flights and visas.