I recently moved from the big city of Los Angeles to a small city in Washington State. I was coming from the so called Silicon Beach, and the digital world was all around me; becoming more and more involved in everyday life. It seemed as though everyday there was a new startup that had set up shop somewhere on Main street. I figured that when I moved to a smaller city, I could find the perfect job in a smaller digital space…little did I know what small city culture shock I was about to have.
When I arrived, I went on the job hunt. I was learning very quickly that in a smaller city everyone knows everyone in the digital space and that companies would meet with people they knew over pure qualifications. At first I thought this was a very odd custom, almost as if the Mafia was running the city and “only the family got the good jobs.” I struggled with getting in front of the right people at the companies that interested me. I began walking into companies and dropping off a portfolio, business card, resume, anything to get an interview. This tactic worked…kinda.
I was brought into a few companies and they all were interested in my skills and my past work but none of them were ready to hire. I finally began talking with a few of the friends I had made in this strange city; they told me to just ask people to grab a cup of coffee. I should have done this straight out the gate, most all of the jobs I have gotten have been from the so called “informational interview.” So I began my coffee cup filled job hunt…and of course I got the “buzz” I was hoping for. From Principles to Associates, I was grabbing some joe with them all. I thought, “Finally, I have this city figured out. I’ll have a job in no time.” …I thought.
With the brilliant coffee break though, the cup was still half empty. I was still that guy from the big city and naive to the small city culture. In one instance, I was emailing with a lead and we had agreed to meet up for a good ol’ cup of joe. The lead saying, “let’s meet up at Starbucks on 23rd.” Now, coming from a big city, where they may be a number of 23rd streets, roads, avenues, ect., I figured the lead had forgotten the “the” meaning to say “let’s meet up at Starbucks on the 23rd” referring to the date. Little did I know that 23rd was a major street in the city. Because of this blunder, I missed the meeting, thinking it was not for another two weeks. Luckily, in small city fashion, the lead laughed and we set up another meeting…which I confirmed the date and location.
I have since been offered a job and am about to start working with a great startup! I still have a lot to learn in a small city culture, but how exciting is that?
So if you are having trouble getting that dream job at that perfect company just say let’s grab a cup of coffee!