Apologize for random pics captured over the last two years, but I need to put them somewhere.
It was February. The darkness of winter was surrounding me. My annual lease for my vacation home in Ocean Grove was up on April 1st. The two-month deadline weighed on my soul. I had no problem extending my stay at the Jersey shore, but it wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I wasn’t meant to have another year there. Of falling in and out of love. Of late nights contemplating some of the world’s oldest questions. Of walking to the beach every other day to lie out in the summer sun. Of brainstorming potential business ideas and messing around with programming.
Those were a beautiful two years. My Asbury years. I enjoyed them tremendously. But, it was time to go. It was time to start the next part of my life. I had two months to decide what to do. Where I should go. What I should do. Or not do.
I’m moving into a time period of work. Of application of everything that I’ve learned. Of performance. Of building. Creating. I kind of feel like I want to spend the next decade or two in this area, although I’m sure there will be breaks. Opportunities for exploring. Always learning. But for the moment I am moving out of the role of student and into the role of creator. I have learned. Now it is time to do.
I hit the job market up. I extended my location range and the jobs I was willing to do. I was actively applying to New York City for the first time. I sent out applications to Philadelphia. To Jersey. I sent out a few to the DC area. I even sent some out to the west coast. One to Hawaii. A few globally.
As someone with five years experience in Department of Defense Systems Engineering work, knowledge of process improvement work, an MBA, self-taught software skills, and a desire for entrepreneurship the areas I was applying to were rather diverse.
I was having multiple phone interviews every day. I would say 80% were coming from NYC, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken. I had a few in-person interviews, all coming from the same area.
I was looking for a company and a position that was looking for me. I was looking for a mutual connection. I wanted something that was able to make use of my software, business, and engineering background. I also wanted something that I could grow. Something that I could push towards greatness. Something I could give myself to.
In the end I felt my opportunity would lie in the startup world. AngelList became a great way to connect with a world that I had aspired to be a part of. Sure, I wasn’t going to be working on my own business and my own idea. But while there was a lack of good ideas on my end, I would be able to take something else and push it forward for someone.
February became March. I had taken programming tests in probably ten different languages. Some I even passed. Sure I forgot the most basic of syntax once in a while as I was swimming in a pool of a dozen languages, but I understand enough of when to use what. I understand a bit about the architecture. Of what technologies are most appropriate for a company to be using both currently and in the future as it grows. I understand how lines of code translate into lines of accounting.
Based on the applying and interviewing process it seemed like the city would be my new destination. It’s a place I had avoided for some time. Trying to make things happen externally to it. But there’s just way too much opportunity here. The gravitational force of the city had finally captured me.
I had no idea where to specifically live. Since I didn’t even have a job yet I wanted a place that would allow me to work in a variety of places. I wanted access to the city. But I also wanted to be able to work in Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Hoboken. It seemed like the two options would be Brooklyn or Jersey City. There’s nothing really wrong with Hoboken but I just don’t personally align with it as closely as the other two.
I ended up choosing Jersey City for several different reasons. Brooklyn gave me access to the rest of Long Island, which wasn’t as attractive as access to New Jersey. There are a couple companies out in north New Jersey that I had interviews with. I also had friends and family in New Jersey. Not having to switch states was pretty cool and the ability to keep my car was great. I wanted to be as versatile as possible and so the Grove Street Path stop made the most sense for me. I’m 10 minutes to World Trade. 18 minutes takes me a block away from Penn Station. Hoboken is next door. I’m walkable to a lot of Jersey City. Brooklyn is about 40 minutes, which is reasonable for a commute. Newark is 18 mins, which gives me global access within minutes via the airport. And that’s all without a car. My car lets me squeeze into work in north Jersey. Friends and fam are about 30-40 mins away. Even my old love of Asbury Park is an hour ride for when I need to get down there to see Oh Wonder play Stone Pony.
March became mid-March. And with it an offer that I was happy with. It was essentially a six-week part-time offer with a startup. Kind of a test to see if the company liked me and my work. But realistically it was also a part-time engagement with a startup. And that means things will be changing. You never know what will happen with the company, and thus your livelihood. But it’s exciting stuff. What will the company become? How can I push it forward to something great? How can we harness the beautiful magic of the company? The delicate interplays of an infinite amount of ideas, concepts, boundaries, freedoms, influences, forces. There’s magic here, we just need to capture it.
The scramble for a place was quick, and mostly painless. Commuting from Asbury was going to take over two hours, so I really wanted to get into a place as quickly as possible. In the final week of March I was able to finally lock down a place. A space had opened up in Dixon Mills. Yes, I’m living in a converted space where they used to manufacture Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. You probably have used them before. Sure, my rent may have doubled, but the life experience and location to everything has increased by a massive factor. The world is open to me now.
The plan is to try out the city for a year. Give myself to it and see what it gives back. I have aspirations of success, but if it all ends up a disastrous mess then I can always pack up and head out elsewhere. I think it will be fine.
It’s been about two months since I started work. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. The city is where I’m supposed to be. It’s the coolest thing just doing what I’m supposed to be doing and casually moving through spaces or experiences that people come from around the world to see. Walking through the beautiful Oculus structure at the World Trade Center. Turning a corner and seeing the Flatiron Building. Walking down to the waterfront to check out my new city and seeing views of the New York City skyline. It’s a great place to be. In some ways I’ve been able to incorporate my love for travel into my life.
I love the work too. I’ve been jamming away on some natural language processing type stuff. Working with some new technologies and just loving it. I set an aggressive schedule a month ago and I’ll not only be able to meet that, but I’ll actually be able to deliver a second round of work as well. The goal here is just to jam as much as I can and give the company everything I can. In a startup it’s impossible to put yourself out of work. As soon as one thing is done there’s at least two more to do.
I love the team. I love the people that I’ve met. It’s been a great time. I didn’t really know what would happen because my contract would end after six weeks. Half the fun of working for a small team is not knowing what’s going to happen until it does. And just being open to the experience. I’m just rolling with it. I’m going to continue to throw myself at this beautiful city and see what comes of it.
Six weeks came and went. With it came a full time offer. I couldn’t be any happier to have the opportunity to keep jamming work. The decision to pick up and move without any guarantees has already been paying off.
In some ways I haven’t moved all that far away. And in some ways I have. But open invite to everyone to feel free to stop by if you’re out this way to catch up or hang. Or if you need a place to crash. Or a space to jam some creative work at. Or whatever.
Hopefully it wasn’t too absurd to take some pictures I’ve had lying around from the last two years of the shore and mash them with a story of what I’ve been up to. I guess I didn’t shoot Asbury anywhere near as much as I wanted to, but such is the case for most places I move through. You may have seen some of these pics but I haven’t really posted them in a consolidated area.