Today I’d like to tell you a story about my first paycheck in the States.
I landed in Los Angeles on May 31st, 2013 (Yay, it’s been exactly 4 years). There I went through immigration process and took a flight to San Francisco. It’s been 4 years since we moved to the States and people still ask me if it was scary to move to the new country, and there’s no simple answer for that.
I remember the very first feeling of fear: I was sitting on a plane that was about to take off and even greater feeling of fear came. I finally realized that we had sold everything and I am flying to a new country. The country where we don’t have anyone and anything, the country where people speak the language I barely know. Honestly if I had a chance I would have jumped out of the plane, but I hadn’t.
I arrived on Friday and on the next Monday, June 3rd I started Software Quality Assurance courses that I had found while had been in Russia. My plan was to take these course and find a job in 3 months. Why 3 moths? Because we had money for 3 months only. And if I wouldn’t find a job we would have been in trouble.
First two months were crazy, I spent 14 hours at the school every day. Came home at midnight, did my homework until 1AM and went to bed exhausted and excited at the same time.
Two months after starting the school I was told that it was the time to start looking for a job.
What? It’s been two months only, I know nothing, I don’t speak English, what do you mean by saying “I have to start looking for a job”?
That was my monologue with a course coordinator, but she either didn’t hear me or didn’t understand. She told that my resume was ready and it’s time to go.
Recruiter from Texas
The next day at 5am my phone rang, I picked up a phone and found out it was a recruiter from the East Cost. Probably he forgot about time difference and because I was still asleep (but my fear didn’t) I hang up on him.
I am sorry Mr. Recruiter, it wasn’t because of you. It was because of me.
I was so scared to answer phone calls. I thought people would not understand me and they would never call me back. Which was true, some of them have never called me back. Now you know that sometimes even a Russian can be scared. I remember I spent almost a week not answering phone calls.
Until one day: I still don’t know why but I eventually answered a call. It was a recruiter from Texas with a Texan accent. Boy was I screwed. Not only I was scared, but I was about to start laughing. Because, I don’t know why I did so, but I was picturing this poor fellow sitting in a saloon, drinking coffee with a corn bread and ready to scream “Yeehaaw”.
I am sorry Texans, I love you so much and I know now that you’re not riding a horse to work and you don’t shoot your Magnum 45 screaming “Yeehaaw”.
He has never called me back. I have no idea why.
After n! interviews, some was not so bad and other were a disaster, I got my very first offer. It was an unpaid 1 month internship with a mobile gaming company. The company was very small and didn’t have money to pay me, but I didn’t care. I had two options: continue my job search while sitting without money, or taking this opportunity and instead of money get an experience. Which in my case was worth more than a billion.
Couple of days before the end of my internship my manager called me to his office and told that I can stay longer and they will pay me $15/hr plus overtime. No 401(k), no insurance, nothing but $15/hr. Man was I happy, if somebody told me than 3 months after coming to the States I will get my first job that would pay money, I wouldn’t believe at all. Certainly I accepted!
In a few days the pay day came and when I came to office at 9am and my very first paycheck was waiting for me on my desk (no dollars underneath of course as I didn’t get tips).
Since then I’ve changed 4 employers and have received a lot of paychecks, several bonuses, couple of RSUs and a pay raise. But the first paycheck will always be more than just a paycheck. Even though it’s been the smallest check I’ve ever received, but for me it has the greatest value so far.
Do you remember your first paycheck? Do you keep it?