California Life Part 4 - Laura Jane
Laura Jane is from Deansgrange, and moved to San Francisco in 2012. She works at Jelli Inc, a startup in the South Bay, and we met through mutual friends last year.
I've been living here for a year and a half now. I graduated from Business in DCU in June 2012, and decided that I wanted to go abroad. I was thinking of Canada or Australia, but the Canadian visas were running out. It's easier to get a 1 year visa to work in the US after you graduate, so I thought I should take advantage of that as I might not get the opportunity again. I went to USIT, told them what I wanted to do, and immediately they were ready to book me onto a flight. I was put on the spot, and chose San Diego. Three weeks later, I was on the British Airways flight to San Diego, with no job! We had an hour until landing, and it hit me - I don't know anyone, I don't know San Diego and I don't have a job - what the hell am I doing? So I hit the buzzer and ordered some wine!
The First Year
I arrived in San Diego in September, it took until December to get a job. I was offered a job in Orange County, but turned it down. My Dad thought I was crazy to turn down a job, but it was an intense Sales role and my gut was saying no. I also interviewed for a very cool watch company (I met the VP on the flight over) but realized I was more interested in the company and the job was not for me. I interviewed with a PR company in San Francisco, and it was then I decided I wanted to stay in the city. I interviewed with them 6 times and was offered the job. I also interviewed with Jelli, a Silicon Valley startup, at the same time but they couldn't get back to me, so I accepted the role at the PR company and was overjoyed, it was a very well known company. I was fired on my third day. The CEO didn't want someone with a 1 year visa and wouldn't sponsor me after the year. I was told to leave immediately! I walked out head held high, turned the corner and burst out crying. For a good while I couldn't enjoy living in the city, every day was dedicated to finding a job. I was living with family friends in Burlingame, and thought I'd have to go home. If it wasn't for my friends in Burlingame I wouldn't be here today, Stephanie kept pushing me not to give up, something I'll be eternally grateful for.
I buried my pride and went back to Jelli. They were willing to sponsor me, offered me a job, and I've been there ever since. Looking back it was a little lonely at the start, and there was a lot of pressure as I would've had to go home if it didn't work out.
At Jelli, we're reinventing the radio advertising experience, which is old-fashioned right now. We're a small team that works really hard, constantly striving for more. I do a bit of everything, mainly partner operations, project management and marketing. I did an internship at Google, and have been working since I was 17, but this is my first full-time job. Last year I had to go home to Dublin for 4 months to sort out my visa, and during that time worked at a marketing company. It was a small company, and lots of things were broken, the processes were so slow and no-one wanted to fix them. I realized how lucky I was to have a job back in California, I also realized what type of environment I need to work in. At a startup if something's broken you have to fix it yourself, just get stuff done. If you've an idea that will help, you go for it. I had more work-life balance when I was at home, that I'll admit. I was working 9-5 every day, but I wasn't satisfied. In my job now I'm on call 24/7. When I was home last Christmas I went to a spa with my Mum and carried my laptop under my robe, it doesn't stop!
I've met people through friends of friends, and people making introductions when they saw on Facebook that I was living here. A friend I'd studied with in France moved here too, and she's now one of my closest friends. When you're alone you have to put yourself out there to make friends, you've no choice! As for nightlife here, it's all about bars, not clubs. People don't dress up at all. At the weekend everyone's walking around in their Lululemon yoga gear, myself included!
Favourite Things about San Francisco
I would say the weather, but it's more the lifestyle and all the outdoor activities. That's why it's a nicer lifestyle than the east coast, you can be outside year-round, BBQs, hiking, tennis, running, skiing, surfing - there's everything. I love Mexican food, especially a burrito - the super vegetarian burrito. I love brunch here, and that it's a thing to do at the weekend. Food-wise, there's nothing I really miss from home, there's such a good selection here. I've weaned myself off milk, it's not the same as at home, but I'm making almond milk myself these days. I think I've definitely got fitter and I eat healthier. What I miss mostly from home are the people, and my dogs.
It's so different here. Everyone's online, and mass-dating - like 6 or 7 people at the same time, so then you have to do the same! You can't just do one if they're doing 7! Once I was on a brunch date and bumped into a guy I was meeting that night for dinner, awkward! I've met mainly Americans but they're so mushy with compliments compared to Irish guys, it's a bit of a shock to the system. Dating is like constantly interviewing, it's exhausting so I'm taking a long break from it for the time being.
I don't think I could get the work experience that I'm getting here anywhere else. If you're working in tech, San Francisco is really the best place in the world to be. When we go for company drinks I often look around and think how lucky I am to be learning and working with such incredible, intelligent people. Now I'm the one that probably sounds mushy but it's true! I've got some really close friends here now too. I decided that if I wouldn't be friends with someone at home then I wouldn't be here, otherwise it's just for the sake of it. I still have the urge to travel more, and if I had to leave here tomorrow I'd probably go somewhere new, preferably somewhere warm. It's always amazing to visit home but I don't see myself moving back to Dublin anytime soon. There's still a lot more I want to achieve first!