My most recent personal pledge is to never, ever again use the phrase “sorry for the delay but”. It’s an utter waste of time and no one really cares most of the time - just a silly intro to the real meat of the content. With that in mind, I acknowledge I still haven’t really said anything about Astranis or the why, and that’s it. 1
It’s been a busy few weeks for me here. It turns out that when you accept a full-time job offer, you need to move your whole life around with it. The main thing I had to was tell everyone, which was just an incredibly awkward experience. While I definitely got some shit from my friends for going back on it everything, the only opinion I really cared about was the one of my adviser. He was (and remains) gracious and understanding to a fault. The only thing larger than my guilt in having to tell him was the stupidity I felt upon realizing what his obvious reaction would be - nothing but a copious amount of well-wishes.
Of course, a phone call doesn’t really get the job done with stuff like this. I got the opportunity to go and visit campus for the fall career fair this last week, and it was pretty surreal. First off, everyone was treating me like some long-forgotten ghost back from the dead. Really guys? If I came back, the time difference would’ve been like a week or two at most. Sure, these people are whole chapters in my life now, but the difference between the end of August and the middle of September is not allll that big.
Of course, when visiting for a few days, you need a place to crash. Silly me of course went ahead and leased an apartment for a year… Oops. The good news is that it’s cheap, and my roommate Dario gets a super large place to himself as a reward for putting up with my mental breakdowns this summer. It also can hold some of my more awkward memories that I’m still in process of figuring out what to do with. Glassware, drum kit, winter clothes, the usual. Drum kit aside, nothing that I will probably end up needing, but things I wasn’t quite ready to ship out or give away.
Moving into a new place just to pack up is more than weird. It’s the only thing that really made me feel like I didn’t belong anymore, like I was a ghost with Alzheimer’s. I vaguely knew what I was supposed to be doing, but my old haunting grounds didn’t feel quite right. Just going through the same actions as I always have, but the gears weren’t clicking like they used to. Definitely time to move on…
Anyways, the reason I was there was to head-hunt and recruit. Seeing all my professors was great, and they seemed to show real excitement about Astranis, sending a few names my way. Moment of truth came on Wednesday afternoon however, when Steve (another employee) and I had blocked off six hours of career fair fun. Truth be told, we were not expecting that many people to talk to us. How many people would have ever heard of a small, 10 person startup in SF? Especially one with basically no online presence.
Amazon’s Lab126 was the booth across from us, and they had at least 15 people in line at any one point. I tried starting some casual trash talk (why wait in line for an hour for a company that hasn’t been able to make a phone in 4 years?) but we ended up not having time for fun. We “only” had two or three people ever in our line, but that was fairly constant across the entire six hours. No breaks on the hype train apparently, as plenty of students did their due diligence and tried to found out what our deal was.
While I had never “been on that side of the booth”, nothing really jumped out to me. Same thing you did as a student, prepare your pitch, try to see what the other side really knows, and move on from there. The only thing that caught me off-guard how just how much talking it was. My voice was utterly and completely shot by the end of it. My spirit, however, was doing just fine. Every ten or so people someone would come up and say “hey, are you the guy from [IEEE, TAG-Circuits, TA] that year? I remember you”. Every time someone said that, they might as well just directly opened my dopamine sensors on full blast. Feeling all the warm dreams2 flood back into the foreground was just awesome. It took a long time, but I’m glad to see I finally got to see the little impacts I made during grad school.
Anyways, that’s all I’m going to write on UIUC for now, and, well, for as long as I can see. Six years and I couldn’t ask for more. Champaign-Urbana on the whole deserves a farewell, I’ll be sure to get to that one soon. Time to get a new tattoo.