Dear Blog Readers: I will follow this post with a short recap of our family time in France and our brief stop in Seattle before we began our Senior Internship here in San Francisco at Airbnb HQ.
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And now for our first week in San Francisco!
Moving to a new city for three months is a very different experience for us. And even though we will continue to move between Airbnbs, we will still be settled in one place for a while. We still can't believe this crazy idea of being Senior Interns at Airbnb actually got traction! But here we are and so far it's been a great experience.
Like any other of our Senior Nomad adventures, this one started with finding our new home on the Airbnb website. We arrived on Friday the 8th of September so we could settle in before we started our internship at Airbnb HQ the following Monday. We decided to stay in three different places during the ten weeks we'll be here so we could get a feel for living in the city. Our first Airbnb "home" is on Potrero Hill. It is a warm, well decorated and very comfortable house with a fantastic view back towards the city and the bay. It is much bigger than we are used to, with a wonderful kitchen full of all the things you could ever need, two decks and an office. Sadly, we could only rent it for two weeks, but we are enjoying every minute of it.
When we began our search for affordable Airbnbs in San Francisco we realized almost immediately we would have to up the price point. Only New York has a higher cost of living. Airbnb gave us a generous stipend to help offset our cost of living, but still, we were determined to keep things "real" and stay in the most affordable homes we could find that were still nice places to live. Plus any leftover money could go straight into our future travel fund. So, we worked hard to find comfortable places and hosts who would work within our budget. We also found that by renting a place longer than 30 days the nightly prices dropped considerably, and you no longer had to pay the city lodging tax.
Our hilltop neighborhood is full of small shops and restaurants, including a well-stocked family-owned grocery store called The Good Life and a cozy public library branch with big, floppy labrador to cuddle with. On Sunday we found St. Gregory's Episcopal church. The building is fairly new but built to looks similar to an Eastern Orthodox structure from around 1900 that you might find in Kyrgyzstan. It's worth stopping in for the architecture and the artwork alone.
We had no idea that the service would be more like a love-in from the 1960's than a typical Sunday church experience. The clergy wore tye-died robes and almost the entire service was sung in a sort of Gregorian chant meets praise music style. There were bits of dancing and meditation, some thoughtful, short shares from the congregation, and at the end, after serving the Eucharist to each other we danced in a circle with one hand on the next person's shoulder to a primal drum beat and the words to Beethoven's Ode to Joy! Ah...San Francisco!
Our first Airbnb is just a mile away from the office so we could walk, but we are on a bus line that runs directly to Airbnb's front door in under ten minutes. If we did decide to walk, it would definitely be on the downhill leg! Apparently, our part of the city gets the most sun because it is well above the fog line. We learned that in order to enjoy the view, the sun and the other niceties atop Potrero Hill you'll need to find $2,000,000. since that is the average home price! So, we feel fortunate to have our time in the sun.
While we were in Seattle we took all the clothes we had boxed up in our small storage unit and brought them to the friend's house where we were staying. We wanted to see if we could put together a new wardrobe for our internship without having to spend money on clothes we'd just put back in boxes when we head out again.
We'd been to HQ a few times and knew it was a very casual environment and basically, we could wear just about anything but our pajamas (although that might be fine, too). I knew what I wasn't going to wear - and that was just about anything in my suitcase! We didn't keep a lot of clothes in storage so I was happy to see some old favorites that still fit - and equally happy I needed to buy a few new things! Michael dusted off his dress shirts and a trusty blue blazer, and together we did a little shopping to top things up. It's been fun to "dress for work"! Note: you may wear your dog as an accessory.
While at one of our whirlwind doctors appointments in Seattle I was diagnosed with arthritis in my feet (no wonder they had been hurting so much lately) and was given prescription orthotic inserts. When I picked them up they seemed really big and hard and didn't fit in any of the shoes I owned. I was sure I was doomed to a life of sensible "old lady" shoes. But with some diligence, I was able to find a few pairs of nice, affordable kicks that work - including a pair of the hip kid shoes at the moment, Allbirds wool sneakers designed right here in San Francisco.
We arrived at Airbnb on Monday, September 11th (an auspicious start date) and met our good friend and mentor Chip Conley in the bustling cafeteria on the main floor. It sits off the vast Atrium and is called The Eatrium. Of course. It was full to the brim with bustling Airbnbees (my name for them) getting a full breakfast on the house. It turns out that Monday is all-you-can-eat-bacon day - that's one way to get the workforce in early! They also serve free lunch and dinner, offer snacks and sandwich stations on all floors, dozens of drinks, both hot and cold on tap, and a Happy Hour on Friday that nicely balances out Bacon Monday.
We spent that first day with 25 other "new hires" learning the ropes and the culture. As expected we were the oldest recruits by at least 30 years! We didn't join them for every session during the week since we are not full-time employees, but we did cover the basics of how things work, and learned about the company history, the brand, and the core values. We had a great session with the customer experience (CX) and trust and safety teams where we learned all that goes into helping both hosts and guests when things don't go as planned - very fascinating to see from the inside. Then there was the IT session - this is where the "Senior" in Senior Intern might have become very apparent, but we held our own.
We decided we would do a short (under a minute) video each day and post it on our Instagram and Facebook accounts, so if you'd like to see these two interns in action just click the links. We also did a radio interview on NPR with Ed Ronco before leaving Seattle. Here's that link. After our first week, we identified a couple of projects we will be able to focus on during our internship to make a difference. We are looking forward to working hard while we are here. Just not in the mail room.
Thanks for following along,
Debbie and Michael,
The Senior Nomads