it has only been a few weeks since i have moved into the fast paced world of startups and engineering from that of the financial and capital markets. however, there are just some hard truths that i had to wrap my mind around in order to become fully assimilated in this new universe. here are five inarguable signs that occur when you are in the process of becoming into a silicon valley startup engineer.
1. less time spent on LinkedIn, more time spent on Github: LinkedIn is the professional social network of choice, because it is conveniently sandboxed from the rest of your virtual existence. as such, the pictures from last night’s cat-burglar-themed orgy do not get automatically updated to your profile (that and the fact that LinkedIn’s interface is way confusing with its ‘degrees of separation’ among other stuff that are the only differences from popular social networking tool Facebook). However, LinkedIn profiles are prone to the same problem that normal resumes have: unbridled embellishment. Your two week stint at your dad’s brother’s dental practice where you LOL’d at geekologie.com all day is incidentally a paid internship program where you helped manage multiple client accounts and successfully improved operational efficiencies (measured by several multiple-syllable data metrics) through method automation and strong analytical skills. Engineers, however, are builders by profession and self-proclaimed statements infused with marketing buzzwords such as “created synergies through boosting aggregation operation logistics” have no positive effect. Github is the place where developers keep their portfolios of cool things they have made; it is examples of their past work that demonstrate their abilities. Engineers normally have githubs on their personal splash pages and business cards that are exchanged in person. Some people even exchange github links prior to making eye contact (i have seen it done). An engineer without a github is a young urban professional without a self-entitled attitude.
2. standards for women lowers drastically: silicon valley is a black hole of attractive women. it could be the dense population of computers that largely inhabit a typical man’s time that could be the major deterrant for women to flock to silicon valley (computers do as their told and only requires a push of a button to turn on, especially if using a mac). you’ll realize you have reached silicon valley when you start to notice when there is a female within the nearest 10 mile radius. you’ll examine it quizzically, questioning its existence (‘is that really a chick?’), then followed by admiration (‘wow, i really respect her tenacity to be doing what shes doing’), then followed again by a mix of curiousity/fascination (‘what is her story? she probably took a wrong turn somewhere.’), then finally followed by skepticism (‘she is most definitely fake; i’ve seen real girls on the internet and that is definitely not it’). moreover, your standards teeter on the edge of plummeting down a endless abyss. you’ll start overlooking underbites and lazy eyes. a symmetrical face is a godsend. although there are few women here, it is definitely less distracting–had there been more physical women in silicon valley, the growth and innovation would grind to a screeching halt.
3. develop a strong affinity for white boards: if silicon valleyers had it their way, all of the asphalt on the road would be replaced with shiny white boards. because who doesn’t like a surface on which items can be most conveniently read/written/re-written? startup offices are most often judged on the following two criteria: the abundancy of snacks and drinks, and the size and girth of white board space.
4. wardrobe shifts to cargo shorts/pants and running shoes: not quite sure if this is the cause or the result of lack of women in the valley, but wardrobes tend to shift towards the standard engineer gear: hoodie, cargos, and running shoes. its the practical approach to attire: it is comfortable and those around you (people, computers, machines) don’t care what you wear.