My summer in hackNY

September 7, 2012

Whenever someone asks me how my summer was, I usually start rambling on and on, unable to contain my excitement. This is my first attempt to finally put my thoughts about this past summer into coherent sentences.

I’ll start with an analogy. Since a lot of my friends outside tech are very familiar with theatre, I’ll use that as the basis of my analogy.

Imagine being an aspiring actor. Someone gives you the opportunity to live in New York City on the same floor as 30 other aspiring actors without paying a dime. They assign all 30 of you to different theaters on Broadway, where you all get to play fairly significant roles in your respective shows. You also get paid handsomely for your work.

Sounds like a dream come true, right? But wait, it gets better.

During the day, you all go off to work. Two or three evenings a week, you all come together to a different theatre and meet some of the most successful actors, directors, writers, and producers in the industry. People that you’ve read about for years, you finally get the chance to meet.

You spend the rest of the summer becoming very close with everyone at work, getting to know the other students in the program, and making connections with people who have made it in the theatre industry.

Now replace all the theatre references with “tech industry” or “startup scene”, and you basically have my summer. That is hackNY in a nutshell.

My day job was at an awesome startup called Kollabora. I spent 9 weeks there working on some really cool projects, learning an incredible amount, becoming close with my co-workers, and in general having a truly amazing time.

A couple evenings a week, I got to meet some people who’s products you may have used. Alexis Ohanian (Reddit), Dennis Crowley (Foursquare), and Joel Spolsky (Stack Overflow) to name a few. These aren’t random employees of their companies, they’re the people who started them. Add to that list some great investors, lawyers, and an insanely talented user experience designer.

I got to know some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone else in this program becomes incredibly successful. These are the world’s up-and-coming innovators, and it was a pleasure getting to know many of them.

Every few weeks I attended a tech meetup and even gave a presentation of my own at two of them. When I wasn’t busy working or meeting people, I explored the city either with other hackNYers or with my friends from school.

Combine all that with free housing near Union Square and a nice paycheck, and you have the best summer of my life.

Viva la hackNY.

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If you want to read more in depth about hackNY, check out Jesse Pollak’s excellent blog post.