Startup Grind
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Startup Grind

I’m a White, Privileged, Bearded Male Who Interviewed at Uber

Who Would’ve Thought?

You can find the TL;DR version here.

Not too long ago, I received a surprising email.

A design manager reached out after coming across some of my work on Dribbble. He mentioned that he was impressed with my work and my experience would be a great potential fit for his team.

He works at Uber.

Initially, I thought this was some sort of spam. It’s not that I lack self confidence, I just didn’t think these types of opportunities appear as organically as this.

After some quick research online, I was able to verify that he does, in fact, lead a design team at Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco.

We set up an initial 30 minute call to talk more about the opportunity. During this call, we shared our respective backgrounds, compared personal philosophies on design education, and talked more about the job opening, of course.

To be completely honest, I had no idea this team even existed at Uber until about 2 weeks ago. The job title itself is fairly vague (Product Designer), but this specific team is responsible for designing products that help people without vehicles become Uber drivers.

This particular point during the call changed things for a few reasons:

  • Since working in San Francisco for about a month last year, I couldn’t help but feel like everyone there was focused on solving the problems of the 1%. However, hearing that this team exists firsthand gave me hope that there are some larger tech companies focused on solving problems for the rest of the world.
  • I am extremely passionate about accessibility. In fact, it’s one of my personal values that drives everything I do. This team is responsible for creating products that make generating income more accessible to people without vehicles. This directly aligns with my ongoing mission of empowering others to take control of their own lives by helping them create a sustainable income.
  • This sounds like a perfect combination of unique problem solving, global impact, and collaboration with forward-thinking people.

After the call, I was told to send over my resume, which I hadn’t touched in 5 years, at least. He then mentioned a company recruiter would be reaching out to setup the next official phone interview.

After a little confusion over time zones, I spoke with the recruiter. She gave me an overview of the entire interview process, more insight into the company and team culture, and answered a few questions I had.

A few hours later, I had my first phone interview with a Product Designer who had joined the team roughly 6 months before. We started with standard recruiting questions (that were most likely being read from a script or email), but after a few minutes, a genuine conversation emerged.

I had asked him about his transition to Uber and how he had felt about relocating to San Francisco. In my mind, this is where I gained valuable insight.

We talked about the major differences, his motivations for moving, and his past experiences that led him to Uber. I noticed several common threads, and after asking him other penetrating questions, we wrapped up the call.

While contemplating this potential life change, I came across a blog post that went viral called “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” written by a former engineer named Susan Fowler.

In it, Susan shares her perspective on the sexism and toxic culture she encountered while working at Uber. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident.

Across the tech industry (both in San Francisco and here in the Midwest), there is a lack of diversity when it comes to hiring (hence the title of this article). I’ve talked with other women who have dealt with discrimination, unwanted sexual attention, and unfair treatment while simply trying to do their job to the best of their ability.

After reading and processing Susan’s story, I couldn’t help but consider my current situation. I have this potentially life-changing opportunity to help others on a massive scale while pushing my own limits.

At the same time, I can’t help but think I would be condoning this type of discrimination by working for a company that allows it to happen, whether they are aware or not.

More and more, I’m agreeing with the sentiment that those who standby and allow bad things to happen are just as guilty. Instead of perpetuating the problem, those of us who have some amount of influence have a responsibility to use it for good.

However, in a recent turn of events, this decision was made infinitely easier by another email:

To be honest, this came as a little bit of a surprise, considering both the initial call and the first phone interview seemed to go fairly well. It was also a little unexpected (at this point) because I was informed I would receive feedback and next steps after the phone interview.

After not hearing anything for 9 days, I did become a little skeptical, but I had assumed there were other priorities in place. What began as a potentially life-changing opportunity became a swift kick in the ass.

Because of this all-to0-brief experience, I’ve realized that I can’t wait for opportunities like this to organically happen. Even though this all started because I shared my design work online, it required no further effort.

This isn’t how real life works. You have to work for everything you want, both for yourself and others.

I will be using the above email as a daily reminder to make shit happen. I advise you to do the same. Don’t wait for anyone else to hand you opportunity. Work for it. Every. Single. Day.

I would love to hear your perspectives in relation to this story below or on Twitter. Check out The Imperfectionist for more ideas turned into action!




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Billy Frazier

Billy Frazier

Billy Frazier is a writer and consultant who helps creatives and non-coders answer the question, “How the heck do you get into tech?”

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