Why I Left Big Corporate and Moved to New Orleans

Hiking The Narrows @ Zion National Park

In 2012, I graduated from college. As the first in my family to do so, it was clear my parents could not have been more proud. They beamed with pride at my graduation, mentally checking off the last major goal they had for me. A milestone they held close ever since they emigrated to the US, but could never make happen for themselves.

Following suit of the many, wiser b-school grads that came before me, I started work in New York as a consultant. I initially took pleasure in all of the travel (and all the free airline points that came with it), the magical corporate card and the excitement of client-facing work.

I vividly remember having to constantly remind myself that I made it. Good job, great connections, and excellent opportunities. And yet, there was always something off.

And no sooner, the bright eyed, bushy tailed road warrior slumped over, exhausted and blank, stuck in a city you never heard of, drinking a beer alone at a sterile airport bar. Welcome to my typical Friday night.

Still, I was committed to make the best of my experience and quickly gravitated towards UX roles. I started working on a variety of interesting and often times, very large-scale applications and fell in love with technology and its potential all over again. I was reinvigorated, excitedly sketching prototypes and walking quicker than I usually do.

But after three years, I remained dissatisfied. I grew tired of New York where I spent my entire life, frustrated that I couldn’t turn the great white lights off. I craved a new outlet to create and knew I needed time away. Change was in order and fast forwarding through many conversations, I made the decision, six months ago, to press pause on life. At that critical inflection point, I listed three guiding principles to help me navigate towards more personal and professional fulfillment and hope they can serve as a source of inspiration for anyone reflecting on their year:

1) Always be generative

As I was entering a point in my career where I had just enough experiences and skills to independently create, I felt a growing desire to produce work that was entirely mine. As a self-aware builder archetype, I decided that programming skills would help me do that. I now actively dedicate more time for experimentation, collaboration and sharing in and out of work.

2) Trust my gut

With an overactive rational brain, I knew if I wanted to be more fulfilled I would need to intellectualize less, and do more. Less self-judgment, more confidence in my beliefs.

3) Stay in Balance

As I realign the different parts of my life, I am growing accustomed to constant change and growth. To keep myself aligned, I return my stabilizers and regularly walk away from the computer.

Farewell, New York..

Since I was traveling for work and at the disdain of my landlord, I began to AirBnB my tiny Greenwich Village apartment to save up for a coding bootcamp. Soon after, I enrolled into DevMountain, to learn full-stack JavaScript and for three months all I did was code, cook, work out, sleep and repeat.

I bought a hammock and spent a lot of time in it.
My time in Utah was intellectually challenging, yet simple and satisfying.
View from top of the Y Mountain, overlooking Provo, Utah — one of the many hikes we did off hours.

Be selfish, there are no more checklists.

And I am happy to report that finally deciding to commit to an engineering track has been the scariest, yet most rewarding decisions I’ve made in my life. After reading countless articles on the pros and cons of learning to code, the decision was ultimately made when I stood true to type of work I enjoy and the contribution I want to make in the world.

Hello, New Orleans.

The Revelry crew with the winning jockey at your company holiday party.

Having already decided to trust my gut, I decided to also trust my heart and after Utah decided to move to New Orleans to be with my partner. As quick as I landed, I started work (and my new career) as an engineering apprentice at Revelry Labs, a rapidly growing, close-knit team of software and product engineers.

The team working on Kickoff, an agile workflow tool for services businesses. Check it out! http://kickoffsprint.com/

Let’s get to work.

Like many others, I followed a safe and traditional route, one that taught me invaluable client services, UX, and critical thinking skills, but also one that was never me. I am without a doubt, a better professional because of the experiences I’ve had and it’s only been through the self-reflection that I’ve been able to gain a bit more clarity on where I’m going next.

It’s been three months since I started working at Revelry and things are moving at a pace and intensity that I always knew I would thrive in. Everyday, I learn and work with ambitious, ace-level designers and engineers. I wouldn’t have ever imagined my move to New Orleans and New York will always have my heart, but I regret nothing. Still, you may be wondering how a former big corp guy is fairing at a 26-person dev shop? Well, that’s something I plan to expand on in a future post. And why I think becoming an engineer has made me a better person.

For now, here’s to 2016. Happy New Years y’all.

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