When Mashable held a dream job contest last month I figured I'd enter just to see what it was about. After applying, I forgot about entering, but a month later I was greeted with a message saying I was selected as a winner. 1 out of 500 people. How cool is that?
In order participate I had to get to NYC. Problem? No way. Since I like my job too much I had a lot of vacation time lying around. "Is it true that if you don't use it, you lose it?" (40-Year-Old Virgin). In this case, yes. So I decided to use it. NYC here I come!
TL;DR - I got to tour Mashable, Stack Overflow, Facebook, Tumblr, and Spotify when I visited NYC. It was fucking awesome in so many ways.
Part of winning this contest allowed me to go to NYC Uncubed for free. It was a start-up aficionado's wet dream. There were various panels by successful start-up founders/engineers. In addition, all the companies at the job fair were start-ups; Most of which had just gotten their funding (or were extremely close to it).
It was a great event to attend, and a popular one I guess. At one point I stepped outside and noticed the line was around the corner (and this place was in the middle of the block).
Some of the companies here were doing cool things. But in the end I talked to most of them about the company I work for because we are doing much cooler stuff with better technology. ExactTarget was once in same situation as many of these start-ups, and like us, I bet a some of these companies will do huge things.
Even though I wasn't looking for a job, I ended up talking to a lot of recruiters. I think they liked how I broke the ice answering their initial questions of, "Why are you here?" or "What are you looking for?" My answer was either, "Shits and giggles" or "Because I didn't have to pay."
It was a great experience, and I'm glad that I went. I even made new relationships with companies just in case I end up looking for a different opportunity down the road.
The second, and arguably coolest part of Mashable's Dream Job Contest was touring the NYC offices of Mashable, Stack Overflow, Facebook, Tumblr, and Spotify. We even got Uber credit for transportation around the city. Sick right?!?
The first stop was Mashable, whose office is on the corner of 18th and Park if I remember correctly. We tried to spell "Mashable" with some letters we found lying around the office, but a few were missing. And yes it says, "cheers bitches" in the background.
My first impression was a cozy, mid-sized office for NYC. I loved the open layout where all the editors were situated. It screamed collaboration, which I feel is an essential aspect of writing.
After seeing more of the office it seemed like they were growing and didn't know where to put people. The same thing is happening to my company, so 4-5 desks in one office was an easy tell. The joys of growth haha.
One editor showed us a video they made with Grumpy Cat a few weeks prior. Such an enlightening moment! It was Sesame Street alongside Grumpy Cat. Big time stuff!
If you're a nerd you know what Stack Overflow is. If not, catch up.
Their office is in the financial district, all the way at the bottom of Manhattan. I never would have guessed because it doesn't seem like the right place for a start-up. Shouldn't the banks have more room to screw people over?
I digress. The office was kick-ass. The view... unbelievable.
Unfortunately I didn't get to talk to any developers, but our hosts were amazing. They gave us the tour, answered our questions, and even gave us some sweet swag (which I accidentally left in NYC and am waiting to get mailed to me).
Probably the coolest thing about Stack Overflow was lunch. You're probably thinking, "Lunch couldn't have been the best part." Well, it was because they employ two full-time chefs. One was the head chef who made killer steak fajitas. The other, a pastry chef who took donuts to a whole new level. The only word that comes to mind when I think back is "Amazing!"
On to midtown to see Facebook, which occupies 1 (maybe 2) floors in the Bank of America building. It turns out they are moving pretty soon because they need more space. Again, the perils of growth.
We started with an awesome tour. It was unreal that they had so much technology sitting out in the open. They even had a vending machine filled with computer accessories to cut down on IT costs. Pretty smart if you ask me.
After the tour we got to sit down with 5-6 people from different parts of Facebook. They opened with, "What do you want to know?" This was probably one of the coolest parts of the whole day.
One thing I noticed was the company culture, and it was awesome! They all talked about Mark Zuckerberg, or "Zuck" as they called him, as if they'd been long time friends.
At the end of the tour they let us write something on The Wall. You can't see what I wrote on underneath "The Facebook Wall," but says, "Boiler Up! Ψ2006." Very cool of them to let us leave something there.
After a long day thus far and a crazy night prior I was super tired by the time we got to Tumblr. Nevertheless, time to see some cool shit/stuff.
During the tour all of us noticed the distinct differences between the two development areas. One has more of a grungy feel to it and ended up being the original starting place for Tumblr. The other gave off a sterile vibe. There were a lot of white things everywhere and absolutely no shadows. Two very different spaces, but developers seem to prefer one or the other (I totally get this).
Just as the second group finished their tour, David Karp (founder of Tumblr) came out to meet us. I couldn't believe this was happening. The dude is worth 200+ million and has weekly conversations with Marissa Mayer (Yahoo! CEO), yet he took time out of his day to talk with us. I put one of the pictures we took below, which is actually the only one I have where his eyes are open. Additionally, I look like I have a stomach (shit).
We ended up talking with him for about 20 minutes. One of the more interesting topics, at least for me, included how his daily life had changed from programming to running a company. He said he's not the developer he used to be because of the lack of practice. Words I took to heart.
The best for last.
In my book, Spotify was probably the coolest place. The energy in the office was indescribable. Just stepping foot off the elevator made me want to work there. Their foyer had an amazingly intricate, cartoonish timeline of the company. My picture does not do it justice.
We met Howard, our tour guide, moments after arriving. He actually danced up to us. He lead us around Spotify and told us all about it. I feel like it was the best tour we had all day.
Unfortunately we didn't get to see much of the tech side because they were in the middle of their Friday wrap-up where we could have heard confidential information. Good call on their part.
I can't really describe too much more, but it was just such an amazing place. I would love to work there later in my career.
I learned so much and met amazing people during this experience. I would like to thank Mashable for organizing this contest and all the people that took time out of their day to show us around and answer our questions.
This trip made me want to live in NYC sometime soon! I guess only the future will tell!