Like pretty everyone else much living in Austin these days, I’m not from here. But that hasn’t stopped me from making my home, maybe even my permanent home. I feel like everyone has an interesting story about how they wound up in this funky town, so I thought I’d share mine.
In 2012 I graduated from Penn State with degrees in Finance and Economics. At this time, I was confident that two fancy smart people degrees from a fancy well known smart people university would grease my way into some fancy well known Fortune 500 company doing financy type things.
So like everyone else does in this stage, I applied for jobs. I applied for positions all over the country. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Miami (where I’m from). I expecting it to be like college applications. Shoot off a few dozen applications, get some rejections, get intervened a bunch, and then have my pick of the litter. It shouldn’t be more than a few weeks or months before I was sorting through offers.
So with a carefully renewed and perfectly formatted resume laced with action-oriented buzz words, I fired off resume after resume into the digital abyss.
All those companies that I thought would bite on my resume bait were silent.
A few weeks turned into a few months. Every now and then I would get a phone call from some nice sounding HR person wanting to talk to me about potentially setting up an interview.
And then nothing.
I’d upped my game and began reaching out directly to companies, HR people, CEO’s, anybody who had a fancy sounding job title.
And then I got interviews!
With a newly tailored suit, my Dad’s Joseph A Bank tie, polished leather shoes and a deep feeling of “don’t fuck this up, Alex” I went in to interview after interview with other people dressed like me. People who worked in big office buildings for companies with well known names. I would talk about how excited I was to finally begin my career in finance. I’d ask poignant questions based on research I’d done on the company, be friendly. I was checking all the boxes you’d expect to fill when you Google “How to succeed in job interviews”.
And then things got bad.
After days and weeks of radio silence, the rejections started coming in.
We sincerely appreciate your interest in our company, but we have decided to pass on your application. We will keep your resume on file for the future”
Our company’s HR-approved-automated-applicant-rejection template.
And then more kept coming in. Five. Ten. Twenty rejections. Over the course of two years after graduating college, I was rejected from over 50 companies after being interviewed. Forget about the hundreds and hundreds of resumes I fired off into the digital abyss.
More humiliating was that my father was (and still is) a well connected lawyer in Miami. He would pull string after string to get me interviewed at some of the most well known companies in town. Sometimes with people he had known for decades.
The rejection letters started to feel like this.
We know you’re all super interested in finance and career progression and being an adult and stuff, but seriously dude. Who the fuck do you think you are? You’re not qualified to be our janitor’s summer intern.
Your degrees, your resume, your entire life’s education is effectively more worthless than used toilet paper. You’re an embarrassment to your family. You should really just quit and save us all the time”
Just kidding, go fuck yourself
So I did. I quit. The years of studying, the tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-state-tuition. What was it all for?
Nothing, is what I concluded.
During these years the idea of putting on a suit and tie to work in some stuffy office to do what? Cash flow projections? Profit and loss statements? Climbing the corporate ladder and play water-cooler office politics? Work in an industry whose value to society was dubious at best, downright criminal at worst. This began to feel as appealing as eating ghost pepper soaked glass.
I realized I had been deluding myself for years thinking this was what I wanted to do with my life.
I then realized I spent the last years my under-preparing and passivity was essentially self-sabotage. I now believe life was saving me from what I thought I wanted.
At this time, the show Breaking Bad was in it’s peak. There’s the famous scene where Mike sits Walter down to discuss No More Half Measures. That’s how I began to feel.
No more half measures. Fuck it, I’m going all in.
I’m moving to Austin.
Wtf. Why Austin?
During this entire time, I began reading lots of books and listening to podcasts related to business, lifestyle and entrepreneurship. Many of these people were building successful businesses, living healthy lives, and not living the corporate grind of places like New York. Somehow, lot’s of them had independently decided they wanted to live in Austin. Over and over again, Austin kept popping up on my radar.
More and more, it was becoming apparent that the kind of people with lives I wanted to emulate were moving here. It had the food, the weather, non-crazy down-to-earth people with real ambition (which is a big deal given my upbringing in Miami). The lifestyle seemed like an obvious fit for how I wanted to live.
A city that probably would have been outside my top ten right after college quickly jumped to the top of my list.
With my metaphorically burnt bridges and boats of my non-existent corporate finance career I had the freedom to start over from scratch.
A blank canvas. A new career. A new city. A new life.
I didn’t even visit Austin. I just decided to do it. No more half measures. Fuck it.
I dropped the news on my parents and friends. I’m leaving. I then called my best friend from college and wondered if he would join me in my crazy new life experiment.
“Hey Max, want to move to Austin with me? I’m going in March”
“Sure, I’m down”
And that was it. Within a few weeks I was packing my bags, throwing goodbye parties, and researching breakfast taco joints.
In March 2015 I made my move into the city that I now call home. I’ve been here for three years now, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life (especially now that I’ve figured out how to not be poor with all this real estate stuff). I still live with the same roommate, and his stupidly adorable new puppy.
So if you’ve made it through my long-winded story, thanks! Now you know a little bit more about me. If you’re looking to make the move yourself, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you fall in love with this city like I have.