12 370 km (Slovakia - Hawaii). How I got an internship and a chance of a lifetime

Original author: Marek Dlugos
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My success story, like so many others, begins with failure

I was 16 when I had a dream to go to California High School. For a guy from Slovakia (Central Europe) it was a great prospect. I was looking for opportunities, but none of the options aroused my enthusiasm. I could pay somewhere around 10 thousand dollars (which exceeds the average annual salary in Slovakia) to the agency, but none of them could guarantee me that I would end up in California.

I knew that everything could be done much better, so I created a simple pagetitled Host Me In California. Using the site, I wanted to find a family ready to host me and host me for my next school year in California. In search of a response, I sent a link to my page to several friends, and by the time I went to the shower, a friend of mine had already passed it to someone else. So the first article about my site was published on the web. And that was just the beginning.

Another friend of mine made a post about a site on YC Hacker Newswith the headline: “This 16-year-old guy from Eastern Europe has a better promotion page than yours.” The site quickly gained popularity, then it all started. Paul Graham believed that the original name was misleading, and gave the post the name "Host me in California", borrowing it from my page. After that, he wrote a message to my friend: “Do not rename your post!”

In just one night, 30,000 people viewed my site, liked more than 800, and about 300 tweeted about it. He attracted huge media attention around the world, and the national television station [Slovakia] spoke about him. I received a lot of messages from people in California asking me to accept me, and from all this, my brains started to explode. I was young and made a lot of mistakes.

Error No. 1:Of all the offers I received, I selected a family from the San Francisco Bay Area. Husband is an entrepreneur, wife is a startup director. It seemed that they were enthusiastic and happy to receive me next year. We talked about which school I could attend, discussed many things that I could learn, how I would go to school every morning ...

And then they suddenly just changed their minds and told me that it would be better for me to come to USA to study at the university. It was just when there was only to deal with paperwork, insurance and a visa. And I gave up.

Error No. 2:I lost contact with other families while I was in contact with the one whose proposal seemed to me the best. I realized that it’s better not to rush and do nothing in a hurry, and it would be more correct to wait for the final agreement and the settlement of all issues. This decision does not completely eliminate the risk, but, nevertheless, this approach now looks more organized, although it would require more effort on my part.

“Shelter me in California.” Round Two: Internship

Now, when I was 19 years old, I was thinking about how to maximize the productive use of 4 months before starting to study at a university. I consulted with a very good friend who is currently working in Los Angeles, and he told me: “Make an awesome resume. I will send it to several people. ”

I tried to make an awesome resume, and after discussing with another friend, we came to the conclusion that I need to create a website (because no one reads the CV anymore). I decided not to give up and try again to realize my dream. I immediately took up the design of the site. A week later he was ready .

I placed it under my old domain, although this time I did not limit myself only to California, but was open to new experiences in different parts of the world. I again sent a link to my site on YC Hacker News and went to the auditorium to rehearse some event, hoping that someone would appreciate my efforts and help me.

Upon my return, the site became popular again! Again, a large number of users showed interest. 30 thousand visitors in one day. Active participation of social media. 150 letters with offers, compliments and useful information. Even the son of our president (Slovakia - approx. Translator) shared my site and appreciated my approach.

I answered all the letters, asked for payment during the internship, and ultimately chose 15 great offers from all over the world: Berlin, Boston, San Francisco, Spain, Netherlands, India, Kuala Lumpur, Italy ... I was so excited about of the opportunities that open before me this summer, that I skipped classes to talk to a guy from New Zealand on the school corridor instead.

Each proposal was wonderful, which made this decision one of the most difficult in my life. Everyone offered a good salary, free accommodation, flights and many additional goodies! I was shocked, but I had to think about what I would like to do in the future, and what I would like to learn.

Most of all I was surprised by the answers of the companies that I refused - they were still glad to me and offered their help if I change my mind.

After I accepted one of the proposals, I gathered a small group of my big-headed friends and shared with them my chosen opportunities. As a result of this, I managed to help my future university friend get an internship in Lisbon, Portugal.

I decided to accept the offer from a guy from Hawaii. He is the “famous” (the person who helped me polish this post, insisted on quotation marks) an Internet entrepreneur who founded several companies went through Y Combinator, was the leader and investor for many startups, founded several non-profit organizations, and now decided to settle in his hometown in Hawaii. In addition to business success, he had a wonderful family with two charming children. And that’s all in 30 years! For me, he meant more than the boss for the summer period - he was an example to follow. My goal was to explore the path that you need to go from the initial idea of ​​a business and launching a company to the end product in the hands of the end user. Therefore, I declined offers with a larger (two to three times) pay to spend the summer working with this person and find out how startups work in the USA.

As one wise man told me:
“You can easily offer benefits. You can easily offer good salaries, nowadays money is cheap. If this is your goal, then you will have many options. But companies with a true sense of purpose and the will to achieve it, with a real team of professionals who are experienced, committed and still young, are a real rarity. ”
That is why I put training above money.

After the bitter experience of my previous defeat, which happened at the very last moment, I was a little worried, since I still did not talk on the phone with my new leader, and he said that the transfer of funds to pay for the flight would take several days. Waiting for a transfer, I was already beginning to lose hope, but immediately perked up when in the morning I was woken up by a signal of a received message with a notification that I had received the money.

I booked a ticket, and my dream came true.

I planned to spend two days in Silicon Valley to see the main offices of some famous startups and meet interesting people. Then, after the flight, which lasted “only” 15 hours, I arrived on the island of Hawaii. I live in a small town called Waimea with a population of about 13 thousand people. My apartment is in the same building as the office in which I was provided with a good work desk with a new large display. Now I work hard day and night on designing user behavior scenarios and creating a mobile application. And between long hours of work, I go to paradise in search of adventure.

It was not easy for me to leave everything that I had in Slovakia - family, girl and friends - and start from scratch over the ocean. Just achieve your goals with a passion for learning and the hope that they are worth the effort. My boss has become my good friend. He teaches me all the time how to work with money and understand what is happening. It helps me figure out which solutions make sense and which don't. I am always amazed at the speed with which he can give valuable comments and comments about each stage of product development, look at things from a new angle, see the most important thing.

He also convinces me to drop out of college and start my own business. Let's see if I will be ready for such a step in my life at the end of this summer. Even if I do not dare to do this, my website “Host me in CA” brought me several other offers from the most eccentric companies in Prague - the city where I decided to start my studies after unsuccessful interviews at the University of Cambridge, computer science department.

Success is not the most important thing in life, and everything happens for a reason. In any case, I will have another great opportunity to learn something new, and I can’t wait to start!

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