In our 5-on-5 series, We ask five Praxis participants to give their answers to five questions on a single theme. This week’s topic will focus on the rewards, challenges, and lessons that come with beginning a career in a new city.
1) What were you doing before Praxis and where did you move after starting the program?
Evan Le, Praxis Participant: I was in Los Angeles finishing up my 3rd year of college and a summer internship when I started my Praxis bootcamp. I went back home to Salem, MA for a month as I interviewed with various business partners. I knew I wanted to move to a new city for my apprenticeship, so I ultimately decided to go to Chicago where I did sales and marketing work for a digital media company.
Cássius Carvalho, Praxis Participant: I had just finished high school and decided not to renew my internship contract. After living alone for 1 year and a half, I went back to my hometown, a small city near São Paulo, Brazil.
I moved to San Francisco, CA.
Rebecca Zeines, Praxis Participant: I was living and working as a PA in New Hampshire, then I flew back to Switzerland (where I grew up) to do real estate for a few months. I even found a CHF 900’000.- home for a couple! Now I’m in ATL working at a preschool as a French and after-care teacher, bartending, working for an events coordinator, and freelance copywriting, copyediting, and translating.
Nicholas Rundlett, Praxis Participant: Before Praxis, I was basically co-running a coin store called Family Coin & Jewelry in Midlothian Virginia. I lived in Chester with my folks. I operated their eBay store, bringing in revenue selling rare coins. I loved making customers light up, purchasing their coin collections, and getting paid to do what I love. For Praxis, I relocated to Atlanta Georgia. What a vibrant, beautiful, fun city! Now I’m in Business Development at Reliant Technology. I love the results-only work environment and freedom to experiment that the company affords me.
Luke Ruffing, Praxis Participant: When I started Praxis I was still living at home and working seasonally at Barnes and Noble in Augusta, Maine. During the placement process, I had an interview with Jared Fuller, the VP of Sales at PandaDoc, and I accepted a job as an SDR. I would be working out of the company headquarters in San Francisco, California—3000 miles from home.
2) What was the scariest part of moving to a new city and how did you cope with it?
Evan Le, Praxis Participant: Making friends is the scariest part. After living in other cities and building groups of friends, having to leave them and start over is hard. You see your old friends still hanging out with each other on social and you’re like “dang if I didn’t choose this route, that could be me right now”. But those feelings come from not being able to be in the present. I dealt with it by choosing to focus on the people that were in front of me, and meeting new people every day.
Cássius Carvalho, Praxis Participant: I wasn’t scared at all, but I was hesitant about having such an amazing opportunity and not taking advantage of it – i.e. not networking, not exposing myself enough and not experiencing everything I could.
Turns out every weekend is a new chance to stop, reset your compass, and explore the unknown.
Rebecca Zeines, Praxis Participant: I traveled full-time for two years between 2015 and 2017 and haven’t lived in my own, personalized, space since January 2014. Moving to the different numerous cities I visited or settled in sometimes was an isolating challenge; meeting new people, building a routine, familiarizing myself with the streets, and sometimes even learning the language made for beautiful challenges I happened to enjoy. I looked at everything I didn’t know or have as something I just needed to face head-on. I jumped.
Nicholas Rundlett, Praxis Participant: I am not risk averse. I experienced virtually no fear in moving or living on my own. It felt like the perfectly natural next step in the progression of my life. That being said, traffic in Atlanta is scary as hell – the drivers are nuts and the roads are flooded all day every day until night time. At least it forced me to get darn good at driving a manual!
Luke Ruffing, Praxis Participant: The scariest part was being away from home for the first time. After spending the first 20 years of my life under my parent’s roof, moving to the second most expensive city in the US was quite an adjustment. Where would I live? Would I have enough money for food? What about friends? Would I make any?
I leaned heavily on my dad for advice, who—along with my 18-year-old sister—flew with me to San Francisco and even stayed a few extra days to ensure that I was OK. My dad has also been my go-to for business advice. He sat through, and recorded, more than one dry run of my PandaDoc demos.
I’m thankful that I was not the only Praxis apprentice at PandaDoc. Olivia Van Wormer, Reid Anderson, and Kelly Hackman got there before I, and they gave me the best advice for adjusting to a new city: turn off your phone, get lost for a few hours, then try to find your way back.
3) How did you find a place to live?
Evan Le, Praxis Participant: AirBnb is my favorite thing ever. If you actually book for more than a month, they give you a discount ranging from 10-30% off of their daily rate and it’s awesome. I avoid Craigslist. Also tap into your network — you or your family or friends might know someone who lives in the area and can give you solid tips to getting that housing.
Cássius Carvalho, Praxis Participant: This was the hard and stressful part. I asked Praxians in the Bay Area for tips and recommendations (thanks, everyone!), searched on every inch of Craigslist, joined Facebook groups, told everyone I was looking for housing, and after pitching and visiting several of them, one ended up working. As I needed to be in the city to visit the places and apply for them, I stayed in two (quite nice) hostels on my first 18 days.
Rebecca Zeines, Praxis Participant: I’m not afraid to ask for help. If I know someone who knows someone who might have a friend with an empty bedroom, I will jump on the opportunity to see if I might be welcome to stay there, if only for a week or two. I use my network, barter, offer to pay in time rather than money, and adapt to the circumstances I might need to live in temporarily. I’ve been hosted by friends with a guest bedroom and en-suite bathroom, just as I’ve lived several months with a tent for bedroom. I’m adaptable like that.
Nicholas Rundlett, Praxis Participant: I knew a Praxis participant who lived in Atlanta who also wanted to move out from his parents’ home. We synched up and moved in together. It certainly saved us both a ton of money on living expenses.
Luke Ruffing, Praxis Participant: San Francisco is home to the second highest rent payments in the US, if you can find a place to rent. Not wanting to sign a six-month lease, I spent a lot of time on the AirBnB website, starting with neighborhoods on the BART line that I knew to be safe. I ran possibilities by my parents and settled on a bedroom in a fully furnished house with use of the washer and dryer, kitchen, and entertainment center. It cost me more than $1700 per month, but I didn’t have to sign a long-term lease, and I viewed my apprenticeship period as a time to learn, not a time to accumulate and save money.
4) What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from moving?
Evan Le, Praxis Participant: That fear of eating beans and ramen everyday and living on the street has a very low percentage chance of happening. If you’ve made enough good friends, ask for help when you need it, and just do your work, then you’re in a pretty good spot. Relying on your friends is not a weakness — if you took the time to invest in your friendships, then you’re fulfilling its purpose by counting on them in hard times.
Cássius Carvalho, Praxis Participant: It may be too early for a definitive lesson, but I learned that I can be whoever I want to be. Whether that means building new habits, being more outgoing or telling strangers you’re Japanese (I don’t have Japanese eyes, so they usually don’t trust me), a totally new environment helps you see that you are in control of your life. And it does feel good.
Rebecca Zeines, Praxis Participant: Every move has been a different lesson, the main and most recurrent one to be “adaptable.” As a traveler, I’ve made many plans. Most of them fell apart. On each different move, I’ve learned to take things in as they come and see the opportunity in the failed plan.
Nicholas Rundlett, Praxis Participant: I can handle anything that life throws at me. I have an unshakable certainty in that belief directly from the experience of moving into a new city into the stage of self-directed adulthood. I feel I have the resources, relationships, and resourcefulness to overcome virtually any challenge. Relocating to Atlanta was instrumental in all 3 areas.
Luke Ruffing, Praxis Participant: That I can live with very few material goods. Living light is the way to go. I have moved across the country twice now: from Manchester, Maine, to San Francisco, California, to St. Petersburg, Florida, with nothing more than a backpack, carry-on suitcase, and my golf bag. I’ve gotten on for six months with nothing more than what fits in those bags.
5) How did you build a social life and network in your new city?
Evan Le, Praxis Participant: Classes and activities. You have to indulge in your interests in a public group setting if you want to make friends. For instance, I’m a big fitness guy, so I started MMA class and went 3 times a week for a couple of months. I also go to the gym 6 times a week, so you start to see familiar faces when you do things regularly. Consistency brings familiarity and friendship. In Chicago, their specialty is improv, so doing those classes weekly would be a solid way to meet new people. Whatever your interests are — drinking, cooking, dancing, working out, painting, coding, sports, chess — there are certainly classes or communities centered around them.
Cássius Carvalho, Praxis Participant: Just by not going from home to work and from work to home every day, I’m developing a social life naturally. Going to gym, to clubs, practicing a hobby with a group of people, making friends with people I meet frequently, and then with friends… There are plenty of options, and meet ups aren’t bad here.
Besides all that, I like to go sightseeing and hiking. SF is also a Praxis hub, so I often hang out with other participants
Rebecca Zeines, Praxis Participant: I’ve recently settled down, choosing Atlanta as a home base for a more settled life and shorter-lived adventures. In the first two weeks of being in the city, I’d started doing Capoeira again, researching my own home, hunting for work (I found 3 jobs and have more offers coming in), attending conferences, and being completely and utterly open to meeting new people and making new friends. I listen to the “vibes” I get and nurture the bonds spontaneously built after one beautiful conversation. I don’t wait for people to come to me, I actively reach out to create the community that I want for myself in this city.
Nicholas Rundlett, Praxis Participant: Building a network started with choosing to room with a fellow Praxis participant – in an apartment complex where a Praxis alumnus lived! I immediately had a small circle of friends which I continued to expand. I met new people by exploring Atlanta’s meetup groups relevant to my interests. For fun, I play piano, read, hang with friends, go to the gym / steam room, and attend an occasional Acroyoga meetup.
Luke Ruffing, Praxis Participant: I reached out to the rest of the Praxis community and found a kindred spirit in Austin Brown, who came on at PandaDoc a few months after I did. Then I found my way out to the local golf courses, and even managed a trip to the Pebble Beach Golf Resort in Monterey, California, where I birdied the world-famous 17th and 18th holes. I also developed a love for volleyball and found plenty of pick-up games through Meetup.com.