I learned I would be moving to Houston in an instant. The room was filled with tears and joy and this weird electricity of excitement and fear and celebration. And balloons. Balloons falling from the ceiling.
If you are familiar with the MATCH process like JD surely was if he was a real human, this might resonate with you. If this is confusing, and rightly so, MATCH is how medical students find out where they will be going to pursue their (usually) lifelong dreams of becoming a Doctor.
My husband’s dream is what dictated this move; enter me: the newest member of Houston’s Significant Other’s Club.
With a year to prepare for the move to Houston, I set out on my journey to find what my path would look like in our new home. We found a realtor, (seriously, hit up MoveMeToTX with any needs), took care of the things we were told to take care of, but I was left floating in the midst of wanting a career change into the tech world but not knowing how to pursue it in a new city where I knew not a soul.
Maybe you aren’t in this exact same predicament. It’s oddly specific, I know. But if you’re trying to enter the tech space in Houston and want some snippets of my personal advice, this could be helpful.
The first person I met that helped me put words to this feeling and validate my position ended up being a coworker, and eventually, my closest Houston friend. She dubbed herself as part of the Significant Other’s Club too. I learned later she advocated to hire me, despite my experience being in a completely different field. Enter my first piece of advice:
1. Be honest. I had innumerable interviews where I shrouded the reason for moving to Houston. I wanted to hold onto some weird sense of my perceived autonomy-- strike an immediate chord as the person I view myself to be: independent, strong, valuable.
If you are new to the tech space, or Houston, or both (👋hi!), you are among a group that is bigger than you think! Being honest about this will NOT change someone’s opinion of you. I’m willing to bet it will open doors to relationships that will help you find your community here.
Another lesson was quick to follow, which is especially important to keep in mind if you are switching fields.
2. Be curious and ask questions. If you feel like it’s a dumb question, just think about the fact that NASA asked Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, if 100 tampons would be enough for her one-week flight 🙄. Ask the question, no matter how “dumb” you think it may be.
I asked questions about things I thought were interesting during interviews more than I talked about my experience. Although there were, and continue to be, ways that my experience has helped me immensely in fields that seem unrelated, asking pointed questions will show people something that most interviewees would just say they possess: curiosity. If you are switching fields or trying something new, curiosity is key, so show it right off the bat.
3. Get a head start on looking into resources. It took me time once I had already moved here to find out how to get involved in the startup and tech scene in Houston. Now that I’m here, I want to make it easier for others to find out about the awesome opportunities that already exist. A few resources that I wish I knew about in 2017 when I was planning my move:
Meetups—there are so many, and not all of them are career oriented, but there are bound to be some great connections available as a newcomer.
Houston-specific tech information is featured all the time in a few of these places:
There may be some interesting people you’d like to hit up for a coffee chat ☕️. Does that thought terrify you? That’s okay. The worst thing someone will say is sorry, I don’t have time, and they’ll probably still refer you to someone they know who can give you some information. (Guide on how to have a successful coffee chat coming soon 👀)
I’ve learned the tech/startup scene in Houston is less “cutthroat” than the coasts. Combine that with the fact that Houstonians are generally nice, and you’ve got a recipe for some folks that are usually willing to meet up and chat if it may help you out.
4. Find those startups! Many Houston startups and tech companies office out of co-working spaces and accelerators. Contact the teams at these spaces to set up a tour, tell them your interests (and even mention the name of the startups you're interested in chatting with), and be impressed by how willing people are to help. Doing your research and being proactive is key.
WeWork Labs— Downtown Houston
The Annex— Eado, Houston
TMCx (come say hi to me!)— Texas Medical Center
Headquarters— Eado, Houston
The Cannon— I-10 & Beltway 8 (outside the loop! Look, I did it!)
(🚨HTX Talent has a heavy innerloop bias, and there are many other places that you will find wonderful. Drop us a line on twitter @htxtalent or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have recommendations to add!)
I didn’t know this before I moved, but I have since learned there are over 145 different languages spoken in Houston, and the median age is pretty young at around 33 years old. Houston is cooler than I thought (except when it’s literally roasting in summer 😓), and the amazing food reflects the people, so get ready to eat your way through the city.
Bottom line: there are cool, young, diverse people in Houston and if you’re coming here to work and thinking about switching careers, connecting with those people will guaranteed be your best bet to finding the right fit for you.
I hope we can help, too!
Houston Population. (2019-10-29). Retrieved 2019-12-17, from http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/houston/