A year ago, I was in the final week of an internship for a Fortune 500 company. Now I’m working for a startup with less than ten of us on the team. While working for a large company, I had the freedom to explore software development in any department. Now at my startup, I have the freedom to take the lead on certain projects, propose and implement new projects, and the freedom to represent the company.
Now that undergrad is complete, it is easy to come home from work and feel justified in spending the day doing a whole lot of nothing. I earned it, right? I worked hard, so I’m entitled to a guilt-free movie binge. That’s all well and good, but then a couple weeks of that pass and you’re catching up with an old friend. The inevitable “what’ve you been up to?” question gets popped, and you realize that you’ve become about as interesting as your current LinkedIn profile.
After graduating from UMich with a Psychology degree, I spent the majority of my early to mid-twenties traveling. I woke up one morning, just tired. Tired of packing, tired of moving, of living out of a suitcase, of building my bank account up just to obliterate it again, or not knowing what I was doing with my life. I decided to go to a coding bootcamp to become a web developer, moved back to Detroit and began working for Waymark. Now, I have more opportunity, skills, and freedom.
I chose to work for a large company in the automotive industry, or rather they chose me. And that was another misconception. The idea that they were doing me a favor rather than a mutual exchange. But I would soon come to realize that I would just be another number. A headcount. A body.
I wanted to be a Physical Therapist when I started at Michigan State. I played sports my whole life, dealt with numerous injuries, and thought a career helping people recover from injuries was the right path for me. I ended up becoming a software developer…
My mom was a little freaked out at first … and now I can’t wake up at 8:30am to be to work by 9am … but moving from Ann Arbor to Detroit was definitely worth it! I’m stripped from my comfort zone, exposed to new surroundings and got creative with the daily commute (which isn’t that bad)!
Ever since I was a kid, I was convinced that I would be a doctor. I remember watching shows like House and even Scrubs and thinking that what they did was the coolest thing. Fast forward 5 years, I’m developing software at a startup in Detroit and can honestly say that I have no regrets with the path that I took.
If there’s anything to bear in mind as you approach the world and perceive others, it’s to remember that you can do both! You can do things that are seemingly at odds with your identity and have a multiplicity of valuable skills. Someday, I hope that this incongruence will be celebrated...but until then let's shotgun some Tecates and talk about non-deterministic polynomial-time hardness!
Working at a startup for the past year has taught me that it is up to you to find out what kind of company culture you want to work within. Then, it is your job to take the initiative in accessing and creating that kind of space.