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10 things I learned from living with my team during Y Combinator

I’m one of the co-founders of a company called Campus Job. It’s an amazing place to work, and I’ve always felt as though our team was super close and tight-knit. But never did I think I’d end up living with all of them.

It all started with an application to Y Combinator.

What is “YC”? In short, it’s an investment-vehicle run by partners who kick your a$$ and give incredible, thoughtful and insightful advice. At the start of YC, all participants move out to the Bay Area for 3 months and attend weekly dinners with really impressive entrepreneurs (many of whom once participated in Y Combinator). Perhaps most importantly, it’s a community. A community of other companies (some wildly successful, like Airbnb & Dropbox), run by some of the most wildly brilliant entrepreneurs I’ve ever come across.

 

My co-founder, JJ, and I were asked to apply to YC for our company, Campus Job. We were hesitant, but after enough conversations, we decided we’d apply and see what happens. Here’s the 59-second application video, for context.

A trip out to California and a few weeks later, we were accepted to join. When we told our team and asked what they thought about moving across the country to live in a house and work, breathe, and sleep Campus Job, I was sure they’d look at me like my hair was on fire. But they didn’t. Instead, they insisted we do it. So we did.

Fast forward 2 months and we had a house (which we found on Craigslist) with five bedrooms for eight people. The living-room, we decided, would be turned into our office, and most people would have to share a bedroom. Eek. I documented some of the preparations… Watch the video here.

 

It’s now been 6 weeks, and I can safely say that I’ve had a lot of learnings. So, I figured I’d share the ten things I’ve learned living and working with my team 24/7.

#1: Sometimes you just have to suck it up and clean up after others.

Typically, if your roommate is leaving chin hairs in a sink, the appropriate response is to bitch and moan at your housemates and tell them to clean up after themselves. However, when you live with your coworkers, the need to maintain order and dignity prevails, since you don’t want to embarrass your teammates. So you do what you gotta do, and you scoop up the chin hairs and move on.

#2: It’s important to keep things fun

Our team works our butts off day-in and day-out… So sometimes, we take a (short) break from working and have a bit of light fun… You can call this “team bonding.”

We recommend prank calling team members at least once a week. Our preferred method is PrankDial (here’s one we did to JJ, our CTO).

We also never skip the opportunity to make a music video or film some sort of stupid adventure (like breaking into our own house). Check out this music video we made one Saturday night at 2AM:

#3: Everyone has very different living habits.

I don’t (make that “can’t”) wear matching socks, and I avoid the number 13 like the plague. Chris (Account Manager) eats a minimum of three rotisserie chickens each day. Greg (Director of Sales) wears sweatpant shorts. Nikki (Director of Student Experience) has a family member calling her at all times of the day. And the list goes on.

#4: When living and working in a house, everyone is always hungry.

On a typical day, the dishwasher is run three times, the trash is taken out twice, and at least five full animals are consumed. All said and done, this means 18 trips (round-trips) from the kitchen. At minimum.

Yes, this is our real pantry.

#5: Coffee is a team’s best friend.

When you work 17 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s important to just embrace the fact that you’ll likely need A LOT of coffee… Is it a coincidence that we live within a nine minute walk of Starbucks? And that we know the names of all the baristas? Probably not

#6: Don’t judge a person by their package.

No, not that kind of package. Here at the Campus Job house, we’ve seen some crazy packages come through. There’s the ready-to-build treehouse that someone bought to encourage herself to spend more time outside. There’s the box of 150 bags of ketchup-flavored chips from a thoughtful girlfriend. There’s the 5000 bags of sour patch kids that SPK sent us for free to give out to our users (for which we made this video). And there’s the three pullup bars for the guys who decided that they’d take this opportunity to get fit (I don’t get it either).

#7: Three buck chuck (also known in our house as “Charles Schwah”, in a French accent) is a kitchen staple.

Need I say more?

#8: Our uniforms are pajamas and gym clothing.

After all, who are we trying to impress?

#9: When you’re working 24/7, it’s important to relieve stress in the healthiest way possible.

We hold fitness classes in the backyard (instagram proof here), the guys created a makeshift gym out of the gardener’s area in the backyard, and we’re finally working on getting the pool fixed so we can start swimming. Woohoo!

#10: Living together is the best possible way to appreciate someone’s work

You know how there’s always someone in your office whose job is really hard to explain? I’ve had moments where I’ve thought “I wonder what they do all day”… Well, when you live in a house with that person, you realize pretty quickly. And it’s amazing. I have learned to appreciate each teammate more than I could have ever imagined. And for that reason alone, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

We’ve got until the end of March, so here’s to 1.5 more months of living with these jokers!

This article also appeared on Medium. It is published here with the permission of the author

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