Scribbles and Bits

by Derek Gathright

Return to Sunnyvale

So right now I’m sitting in a booth on the Yahoo! campus, the same booth where I set a goal 20 months ago that one day I’d work for Yahoo! and….

[Wavy distorted omg we’re going into a flashback. Begin narration]

My first experience on the Yahoo campus was for Y! HackDay 2008. I remember coming to the campus, being totally lost, and overwhelmed, almost like your first day of High School or College. I wasn’t an employee or anything. I was just a dumb programmer who wanted a taste of what Silicon Valley was really like. Seriously, I come from the startup world in Kansas City, I was in absolute awe of the place. This is where the Internet happens. Holy shit.

I came to HackDay armed with an idea for a hack to build, but was totally unable to focus, so I just sat around, tweeting, talking, and having fun. The music, the hacks, the food, the beer. I was totally awestruck when I talked to someone who worked at Yahoo!, especially the ones working on products I had used. I knew at that moment this was a place I’d always strive to work at. I knew I just had to work here, and be the person on the other end of that conversation. Through the course of that weekend, I met a recruiter who for one reason or another took interest in my skills and said he’d follow up with me. I didn’t expect he would and he was just being nice. A couple weeks later I got a call from him stating he was interested in setting up an interview. I was shocked. “Ok, yeah, umm.. sure, anytime” I was so nervous before that first call. I reviewed just about every book I owned on programming, and I own a lot. I got the call and was speaking with an engineering manager who started asking me all sorts of questions about web development. In retrospect, I totally bombed it, and knew it. Rejected.

Down, but not out, I was focused, I knew it was attainable, but I just needed more time. So, over the next year I did just about everything I could to get my skills up to the level they needed to be for another crack at an interview, always keeping that original interview experience in mind. I had a blueprint. A plan.

A year later I got an email… “I’m back at Yahoo! Want another interview?” It was the original recruiter. “Yeah, absolutely.” The only goal I had this time was getting further than the first. I wouldn’t be totally bummed out if I didn’t get the job, but I at least wanted an on-site interview, just as validation I was making progress. Off I went, studying my ass off for about a week straight, so focused on the lone objective of nailing that phone-screen. The phone rang, and we started chatting. These questions were totally different from the first time. But that’s ok, I knew them. Apparently I did well, and I got an on-site.

The on-site (at the Santa Monica office) went well, and I got an offer. It was a big step leaving Kansas City, but one that I’d always regret if I stayed. So off I went, off to sunny SoCal. I started at the Santa Monica office working with the Entertainment team in November. Due to some mix-ups, I never did make it up here to Sunnyvale for training & orientation. Beyond that, there was never much need for me to be up here in person as we have tele-conferencing equipment galore, and these virtual meetings are in our DNA because we have offices around the country, and around the world.

So 5 months go by and I finally get up here for my first time. I’m actually glad I didn’t get up here before. I get to experience my first day at Yahoo, twice. I knew it was going to be weird, a good weird, and I knew that first time I came here was going to start flashing back. So here I am, sitting in the same booth, sipping my (free) mocha cappucino, admiring the courtyard, the weather, and the conversations going on around me. This is awesome. I have somewhere to be right now. But, nope…

If you haven’t set goals for yourself, do it. Set big ones. Set life-changing ones. When you achieve those, set higher ones, and just keep rolling. If you don’t have goals, find them. I stumbled across this one because I saw a tweet about HackDay, thought it sounded fun, and stepped on a plane to fly out here almost 2 years ago. Random. Lucky… Bold.

It’s feelings like this that you wish you could just bottle up and relive whenever you want.

So, I guess that’s the reason I’m writing this. A 30 minute slice of awesomeness, carved into this blog.