‘I’d up and leave in a second to work for SoundCloud’
If I had to sum up my experience winding up in Berlin on a whim, it would be a tossup between ‘bizarre’ and ‘amazing.’
Almost exactly a year ago, I was sitting at work in New York, browsing a cool-looking website which was blowing my mind with music genres I didn’t know I loved. I turned to my coworker and joked, “I’d up and leave in a second to work for SoundCloud.” That night, I checked the jobs page for open positions; one week later, the interview process had kicked off with a ridiculously endearing SoundClouder. Two months after that, I had the whole of my life stuffed in two suitcases and a one-way ticket to Germany.
If I had to sum up my experience as a born-and-bred Californian winding up in Berlin on a whim, it would be a tossup between ‘bizarre’ and ‘amazing.’ The immediate change in atmosphere was binary: loud, unmistakably New York adrenaline replaced with the quieter, cooled air of German determination. Berlin was nothing like how I remembered it from the weekend I’d visited as a college student, and coming from New York, the public transit was not as jaw-droppingly impressive as it was to me back then. But the culture, lifestyle, and sheer uniqueness of the city (an abandoned amusement park hidden by lush forest across the lake from a gorgeous beer garden… for starters) was and remains something truly special, something right out of a wacky, wonderful indie film that I don’t want to end.
At first, it was intimidating to work somewhere that subtly demanded more excellence than any other job I’ve ever had, and in hindsight, it was in part due to how well I was treated. The thought put into making sure I had an easy time with everything from physically moving my stuff across an ocean, to hurdling bureaucratic procedures, to finding a place to live all made me anxious to prove I was worth that consideration. I had an awesome relocation specialist assigned to me, who reviewed paperwork I didn’t understand, accompanied me to registration appointments, introduced me to kebabs and eating kebabs by the river; meanwhile, my boss offered to help move furniture, a colleague helped decipher German washing machine settings, and SoundCloud even provides German lessons so that I may one day decipher my own household appliance settings. 5,000 miles from California and I somehow felt at home almost as soon as I arrived.
My new coworkers also added a bit to the intimidation factor. I wouldn’t have expected any less brilliance from the people who helped build a successful tech startup, but the warmth and sincerity of the company as a whole really floored me. When you work with a bunch of super smart, super kind people, there’s an overwhelming desire to fit in.
My time at SoundCloud is coming up on the one-year mark, and the dynamic has shifted some; I’d say I’m slightly less wonderstruck but even more determined to see this bright-eyed, good-hearted company continue its journey in sharing sound and music with the world. I’d always thought that loving your job was like winning the lottery: an elusive phenomenon reserved for ballet dancers or something: people born with a natural alignment of interest and skill, who never worry about what the hell they’re doing with their lives. But now I go in to work, hang out with people who make me want to work harder, be kinder, smarter, better. I get to learn about music, listen to music, and see my talented co-workers perform music. My ability to decipher German appliances grows stronger every Tuesday and Thursday. Still not a ballet dancer, but that one-way flight to Germany was definitely a winning ticket.
Find out more about jobs at SoundCloud and apply to join Justine in Berlin, or become part of our team in NYC, London, or San Francisco.