When you uproot your entire life and move across the country to chase a crazy dream, you gain a weird sort of notoriety back home. A mix of hope and cynicism. Wide-eyed encouragement with a dash of misanthropy. When you fly in the face of everything you’ve been cautioned against, your elders are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the moment you return, tail-between-legs, so they can wag their fingers and say, “I told ya so.”
And I am flirting dangerously close to having to be subjected to that.
Almost a full month out of Startup Institute, and I have to be honest – life is not exactly what I had imagined it would be upon exiting the program. It’s hard to describe the hiring process at startups, other than to tell you to imagine the most intense roller coaster you’ve ever been on, and then picture yourself riding it for about 90 straight days. It’s painfully slow and unbelievably dynamic all at once. One day, you’ve got four emails in your inbox from founders who want to talk to you about opportunities, and the next, three of the conversations get stalled indefinitely before they even begin due to customer demands, a website issue, funding meetings or internal chaos.
Opportunities that you felt good about last Friday slowly start to creep off the radar, and things that aren’t even in your field of vision today jump to the top of the list by morning. It’s hard to judge if you’re in a better place with the person you talked to three times in the past 48 hours, or the person you haven’t heard from in over a week.
Long-term opportunities take months to secure, and the short-term work to fill the gap between now and then is about as unpredictable as the weather. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced – and exciting, nauseating and downright terrifying when you’re quickly running out of personal runway.
I get frustrated on an almost daily basis, but then I remember what I signed up for. Which is an opportunity to help build something. And when someone else is hiring a person to help them execute their dream, it is personal, and it is slow. When you’re hiring employee #5 or even #15, the influence that person suddenly has over your business can’t be understated. The role you’re hiring them for is a serious need, but even more important than the actual work is their affect on your existing team. And so, meetings around “culture fit” or lunches or happy hours with the team become another expected layer of their interviewing process.
It’s an adjustment, especially for someone who is a self-proclaimed largely impatient person, but I’m glad to endure the waiting game for a bit longer if the payoff means I end up with a career that I truly love.