Posted by: Travis | March 17, 2011

Ch-ch-changes (what the heck has been going on the last 6 months?)

I’d be lying if i said i wasn’t happy to see 2010 go the way of the buffalo. On paper it should have been an awesome year. Rachel and i got engaged in August. After 3 years of having fun mostly on our own, we finally developed deeper friendships with some people we’ve known for a couple of years but didn’t hang out with a whole lot. My bike racing finally clicked, and even though the DNFs still happened every once in a while, they were much less frequent. Rachel got a big promotion at her office, which was a huge validation of the work she’d been doing the previous 3 years. I could go on and on…

However, all of that awesome stuff got wiped out by the bottom falling out of my job. At first it was great. We were a small, relaxed company with big ambitions, drinking from a fire hose of funding. Everyone was happy, i got to take on some ambitious projects that were rare for someone of my age and experience. Hell, i got to ride the vomit comet. I remember one time passing around a copy of the Office Space DVD and joking about how that would never be us.

Then the financial meltdown of 2008 happened. We had a large backlog of projects (about 2 years worth of work), and figured we would be able to survive unscathed. Then that fire hose of funding shut off completely. At the end of 2009 things started to get tight and it became obvious that we had a problem. Over the course of a few months we downsized from 7 engineers to 3. Meetings went from being about technical progress, to be about finances, to not happening at all. Energy that used to be spent coming up with new innovative ideas was spent figuring out how to cut costs and maximize efficiency. There was a huge shift in morale at the office. Everyone was stressed out. Every time there was a closed door meeting everyone not in the meeting starting talking about whether or not they would have a job on the drive home that night. That whole thing about not becoming the office in Office Space? We became Initech.

In August, 4 days after i bought Rachel’s engagement ring, my boss pulled me into his office and informed me that they didn’t have enough work for me at the moment and that my time (and pay) was going to be cut in half. There was some hope that eventually there would be some work and i could come back full time, but that never happened.

I have to give Rachel a huge amount of credit for putting up with my shit the last 6 months. I have not been an easy person to be around. At first it was great to have some time to ride my bike and play with Cooper, but it’s hard to enjoy that time when you don’t know how much work you’re going to have next week or if you’ll even have a job. I looked around for other engineering jobs for most of 2010, but it happened to be one of the worst job markets we’ve seen in several generations. I was a finalist for several positions which specified that they were looking for someone with 5 years or less experience, only for someone with 10 to swoop in and get the job. It was frustrating.

In November, after months of thinking about it and not telling anyone, i brought up the idea of going to law school for IP law to Rachel on a drive home from a trip to LA. The idea being that it would better utilize my balance of technical knowledge and communication skills. From the get go she was super supportive, so i called my folks and they bought in.

I spent the next few weeks studying for the LSAT at the Stanford library at night. Most people spend months preparing for the LSAT, and just like the SAT, pretty much everyone takes a prep course. I didn’t have the time or money for a prep course, so i did everything myself, designing my own prep plan (just like a bike training plan), and ended up scoring in the 90th percentile. Not quite good enough to get into an elite school, but good enough to get into a darn good school.

I submitted applications to 3 schools in the Bay Area and 3 schools in Texas and since then i’ve been in a holding pattern. The acceptance (and a couple of rejection) letters started trickling in a couple of weeks ago. We’re still waiting to hear from 2 more schools before making a decision.

Because it is now clear i’ll be going somewhere for law school in the fall, and because things at my company were looking pretty dire, i opted to leave and do something fun with the few months i have before starting law school. From now until August i’ll be working at Palo Alto Bicycles. PAB is my local shop, just a few blocks from our apartment, so i’ll be riding my bike to get there. It’s the shop i take my bike to for all the work i have done, as it’s one of the best shops in the Bay Area. The full time schedule will keep me busy, but will also give me time to ride my bike and continue racing. Plus the employee discount ain’t bad either. The best part, however, is the job security. Now i know that i don’t have to worry about a job until i start law school. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Now if we could just figure out where we’ll be living for the next 3 years…

I have a feeling it’s going to be a really fun spring/summer. We’re headed to Austin on Friday for a long weekend to do some wedding planning, take engagement photos, see family and friends, and hopefully catch some South by Southwest (SXSW) music. I think it’s time to celebrate!

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Responses

  1. So proud of you and Rachel!! Can’t wait for all your adventures to come!!

  2. I’m sorry your job tanked, but you’ve done a great job of being proactive – what I call career management. And I know you did a lot of great work while you were there, so there shouldn’t be any regrets in your part. I think you and Rachel are poised for a great “next chapter”. Enjoy the job at the bike shop, and keep me posted about where you end up!

    • Will do. Thanks, Dr. Jack.


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