It seemed appropriate that Aidan and I had our first dinner here with Gary, a fellow South African working for Google in Zurich, since being here follows pretty linearly from his occasional queries about my interest in working at Google with him over the past several years.
Initially, there was little interest — if I have my timeline right, I was working full-time writing Open Source code, leading development on the KnowledgeTree document management system. Fulfilling work in South Africa — why would I want to leave?
After getting a little burned out two and a half years later and taking a less turbulent job at a more corporate environment though, I was bored. Looking around, the industry seemed dominated by boutique software development houses, agencies, and corporate environments, and I was interested in building infrastructure and product. I took him up on his offer to kick off the recruitment process.
This stalled after I was asked to come for on-site interviews, as I had been approached by Yola (then SynthaSite) with pretty much what I wanted to do, based in South Africa. Probably one of the most interesting startups kicked off from South Africa needed someone to build infrastructure for it to scale its operations and development effort. Again, why would I want to leave?
Fast forward two and a half years, and I returned to looking at the local job market, and again there was little going for infrastructure and product — at least not on something I wanted to work on.
A Facebook recruiter, Cathy, noticed me on the attendee list from the O’Reilly Velocity conference. Initially, I was skeptical — I thought that immigration for Aidan and I would have been much easier to Zurich than it would have been in the US — but she was adamant that Facebook would be able to guide us through the process. My previous phone interviews with Google made me confident I would get to the Facebook on-site interviews, which got me over the inertia of starting the process off.
I was still cautious, as I did not want to get my hopes up in case it did not pan out. I was encouraged by Gary and others (you know who you are) periodically through the process to take the chance that it might, and it did. That encouragement got me through the occasionally harrowing ordeal of getting a job in a new country.
It is possible I would never have had, or gone through with, this opportunity if it weren’t for the occasional pokes about considering working overseas for a few years, the encouragement to do the Google interviews and the confidence that brought when doing the Facebook ones, and the pick-me-ups during the whole process.