Getting on Your Feet in San Francisco
6 things I’ve learned
Rewind two years and I was within the freshman class of the San Francisco job market. Here is a little of what I’ve learned:
Make the move
The hardest, yet most important part of it all, is just showing up. If I had a dollar for the amount of times I’ve heard people say:
I just don’t want to move until I have something lined up.
Make the move anyway. Your time is valuable and looking from afar won’t get you there. Pack your bags and start driving. Call friends, or friends of friends on the drive until you have a decent place to live for a week. This will certainly get the fire lit from underneath and you’ll quickly have the motivation it takes to find something… Anything.
Use proximity to your advantage. Get out there with everyone else and things will begin to happen. There is a god damn Starbucks on every corner in San Francisco, use them. The closer you are to these companies the higher probability you’ll bump into someone that could move you forward.
Moscone Center South is a legit office if you want some space to move around. Free wifi, chairs, outlets, and conference rooms if you can sneak your way into one. The Metreon is always available with free wifi and open tables. The food court is only feet away with plenty of options. Use sushi joint, Sanraku for lunch meetings and Samovar tea lounge for everything else. All of this is located in just one square block, so you’ll never be late.
People will move you forward
So if this is true, meet as many fucking people as you can.
Opportunities only present themselves if you are willing to get out there are interact with the people that will ultimately be your boss, mentor, reference, etc. Go to networking events - there are plenty tech meetups every single night. Use Meetup, Eventbright, or Plancast.
Twitter is your best friend so dont clutter your feed.
Be picky on who you follow in your industry as these people will feed you relevant knowledge. If you missed an important tweet because you had to know the Yeezus album just dropped or that North West was born… You’re doing it wrong. Don’t know where to start or who to follow? Just find one or two leaders in the industry and follow who they follow. This will give you a good base to grow on.
Ask some of your influencers out for a coffee. Sometimes this can lead to great things. It never hurts (most of the time) to get your name out there, it’s a small city and people talk. It’s fairly simple: The more people that can mention your name, the higher chances an opportunity will present itself to you. Referrals are massive in San Francisco. Companies will often pay out $5,000 or $10,000 for a referral bonus. So it’s not just in your best interest to secure your dream job, but cash money to the person that referred you.
Don’t over dress
Do not wear jeans, a pastel colored t-shirt, and a sports jacket. Ever. For gods sake, this is established as the early 2000's douchy tech startup CEO and should remain that way. I understand the saying:
Dress for the job you want not for the job you have.
But we aren’t applying to be bankers (If you are then disregard this entire post) and this is 2013 people. Your goal is to be taken seriously and a freshly graduated college kid applying to a tech startup in a full suit isn't the best way to do this. You will hear the term “culture fit” thrown around a lot, basically this means: will you get along with everyone? If you’re the dude ridiculously over-dressed you’re not off to a good start.
If you’re applying to a tech startup here is what you should wear:
- Dress shoes: Grab yourself a pair of Cole Haans or my personal favorite - JD Fisk.
- Knee high dress socks: This is where you can throw in some of your personality into your outfit, such as a pair of bright Happy Socks. Believe it or not I’ve actually interviewed someone with ankle socks. Hell no.
- Straight leg Chinos or slacks. Personally I wear straight legged Chinos from mens clothing site Bonobos. I would recommend dark pants as it comes across more professional.
- Collared shirt. Pick something plain with absolutely no designs. I wouldn't recommend any checkers either. Keep it simple. I like to wear a plain blue or white Hugo Boss shirt. Spend the couple bucks to dry clean your shirts often. A nice shirt can look and smell like shit after a sweaty interview or two.
- Watch: This is the second and last place to show off a little personality. A unique watch can often be a conversation starter so don’t be afraid to strap yours on. I like to wear my wax faced watch by Be Optimistic and Thankful.
Turn your cell phone completely off. In a dead silent conference room vibrations are annoying as the marimba ringtone. Airplane mode and Do Not Disturb both are distant seconds in the running. But be aware of that lingering alarm you set to take your birth control at 11am, that shit will still go off.
Don’t be afraid to stand out a bit. I mean come on, this is San Francisco.
A full position may not present itself to you. If this is the case, take an internship. Make sure you apply first at companies that you’re most interested in, as internships are typically easy to fill - largely because they will pay you like shit. Also, make sure there is a clear path to full employment with explicit goals. A typical internship will have a timeline of three months then you’ll recieve an offer if you’ve shown your value to the company. It will be obvious whether or not you’re going to get an offer within the first month or two.
Be the first in the office and the last to leave. For these three months show this company that you really want the position. An immediate red flag for your boss will be if you regularly arrive late or you’re the first to leave. That just screams “I don’t care about this job”. Also, log into your email at night and on weekends. Show that you are willing to work after hours.
Give your boss too much transparancy into what you’re working on. A good way to do this is BCC him/her on important emails. You want him/her to say “Stop sending me all the work you’re doing”. You’ll never get the credit you deserve if it’s unintentionally hidden from your boss. Basically overwhelm your boss with all the work you’re doing. How can they not hire you if you’re doing so much work?
Find a mentor
This is monumental to ramp up quickly. Having someone to guide you on your journey will save you hundreds of mistakes that you will inevitably make on your own. It can be as simple as a friend who has a couple years under his/her belt in the city. Take them out for coffee or drinks and pick their brain, asking anything about everything. Tim is my mentor, follow him on Twitter for expert advice.
Moving to a big city can be intimidating. It can make you feel lost in a sea of seemingly unreachable opportunities. Take it one step at a time. Don’t forget to breathe. - Race