Mike's Blog

Musings on Tech and Life

Why I Chose New York

This semester, I’m graduating from a great school (Hook ‘Em!). Being in the tech field, the natural place to work after graduation is Silicon Valley. I’ve spent the past three summers out in the Valley interning for Apple and Facebook, where I had a blast, and met some of my best friends. After reflection on my experiences in Silicon Valley, however, I realized that it is not the ideal place for me. Instead of Silicon Valley, I decided to go to New York City, where I’ll be working for Palantir. My decision boiled down to three reasons: a more diverse group of people, a higher percentage of females, and a lack of a commute.

Silicon Valley is great because of the high density of talent. Want to meet the person who developed that open source project? Chances are he’s not more than a half hour away from you (and is probably happy to grab a beer). This is great, but it comes at the price of diversity.  You’re surrounded by engineers, engineers, and … engineers. Of course there are people in the Valley who aren’t engineers, but the density of engineers makes it hard to be surrounded by them. The biggest issue with the homogeneity is that it creates groupthink. Everyone (ok, not everyone, but a lot of people) talk about and focus on the same things (social media, group messaging, daily deals, etc.). At some point in my life, I am going to start a company. I’m convinced it’s not healthy to be surrounded by the same stale ideas that everyone is trying. I want to be surrounded by people who are in the finance, fashion, publishing, movie industries. I’m sure there are a lot of really interesting problems in these fields which I am woefully unaware of, not being involved in those industries. Being surrounded by a diverse group of people is a great way to get exposed to a variety of problems which most engineers aren’t remotely aware of because they are off in the ivory tower that is Silicon Valley.

A direct result of the lack of diversity is that there are very few women in Silicon Valley. A highly unscientific study found that the ratio was about 3 males : 2 females. Settling down isn’t on my immediate horizon, but I want to be in a place where going on dates is a reasonable possibility. NYC has much more favorable odds: Census data pegs the ratio at roughly 52% females : 48% males. (A note to those who will undoubtedly criticize me for talking about gender in Silicon Valley: this blog post is about why I chose New York, being a straight male.)

To mitigate the lack of diversity, some engineers choose to live in San Francisco. This solves a lot of the above problems — but it comes at a cost. A 1:30h commute. Each way. Every day. For those keeping count, that’s 15 hours a week commuting, every single day, for years on end. I don’t want to spend almost two full work days per week on a bus, no matter how comfortable its leather seats are. In NYC, I’ll have a 5-10 minute walk to the office, hardly a commute.

NYC is not all roses. There are tradeoffs: I realize that I’m not going to be employee #1 at the next Facebook or Google working out of NYC. Also, the weather is a lot worse than the Valley. These tradeoffs seem minor compared to the benefits I’ll gain: more diversity, a better dating scene, and essentially no commute. To engineers who are just graduating or who are looking for internships, I encourage you to consider NYC. There’s a lot of hype surrounding Silicon Valley, but not a lot of people talk about the downsides.

  1. mybb-themes reblogged this from michael-g-miller
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  3. joeross reblogged this from michael-g-miller and added:
    I wouldn’t be so sure. After all, Tumblr is based in NY.
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  5. jeffreylo reblogged this from michael-g-miller and added:
    Clever man.
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    “This semester, I’m graduating from a great school (Hook ‘Em!). Being in the tech field, the natural place to work after...
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