Why I left Architecture for Tech: Insights from my first month at Sonder

By Colton Peppelman

Sonder
Sonder
Oct 11, 2019 · 3 min read
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Featured: Sonder in London, UK. London is one of 20+ cities across the globe to feature Sonder properties.

This past September I transitioned from a career in architecture to join the Interior Design team at Sonder as their Junior Project Manager.

After graduating from Harvard in 2017, I completed a fellowship program traveling through Southeast Asia to an artist residency in Tasmania. Over the course of a year, I stayed in nearly every type of accommodation possible: hotels, hostels, home-stays, Airbnbs, bed and breakfasts, and my personal favorite, a renovated school bus. My fellowship confirmed a love of travel within me, and this breadth of accommodations illuminated the importance of hospitality to the overall travel experience. It was only a matter of time before I would discover Sonder and immediately feel a strong connection to its mission.

Sonder offers the location, personality, and convenience of a home-share fused with the consistency and amenities of a hotel. Sonder is aiming to redefine the hospitality industry. Accomplishing such an ambitious goal requires a lot of moving parts; Sonder is part tech company, part interior design firm and part logistics powerhouse. These interwoven disciplines are constantly working cross-functionally to grow, scale and improve efficiencies.

The choice to leave my former architecture firm was not an easy one; I left behind amazing friends, mentors, and projects. However, after a month at Sonder, I’m confident I made the right decision and this is why:

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Featured: Sonder in Miami, FL. Each Sonder unit features a unique design inspired by its local community & culture.

Growth

I was looking for a company that invests in its employees and cultivates a culture of growth. Sonder is just that.

  • Sonder offers young team members opportunities for career growth that don’t exist in more traditional, hierarchical work environments.
  • As new processes and structures are established there are countless opportunities for team members of all levels to contribute.
  • This hard work shows: Sonder recently completed a $210M Series D funding round to earn a $1B+ valuation. And if our $400M estimated revenue for 2019 (quadruple our 2018 revenue) is any indication, we’re just getting started!

Impact

The teams at Sonder are working relentlessly to grow in scale and efficiency, and it shows. Sonder’s tech-driven model allows us to achieve greater impact because it is iterative, scalable and measurable.

  • The Interior Design & Design Operations teams are constantly analyzing metrics to shape our designs and provide the best possible guest experience.
  • We produce thousands of consistent, high-quality, unique Sonder units at a rapid pace. The Interior Design team designed 1,000+ units in Q3 2019 alone, a feat unthinkable at a traditional architecture firm. The Sonder Interior Design team is able to complete in a year what a firm might do in a decade.

Inspiration

I’m constantly inspired by the goals, accomplishments and teams around me. I’ve woken up every Monday excited to go to work.

  • Every day I’m pursuing my passion for design, technology and travel. I’m always learning and it feels like the sky’s the limit.
  • I stay inspired because I’m surrounded by talented, hard-working and highly motivated team members. Sonder’s teams challenge stereotypes of the tech industry such as male dominance. Upon joining, I was greeted by a team of operations-driven, creative, badass women. I am only the second male member of a 30 person Interior Design team that is organized, communicative and highly efficient.

Want to learn more?

If you can’t tell already, I love my job. So if you want to learn more about Sonder, please reach out via LinkedIn. I’m happy to talk your ear off anytime! Also, check out our open roles (150+ around the globe!) to start your own Sonder journey.

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