I landed in LA and spent a good hour in the customs. The man in line before me had forgotten some important documents so him and the custom worker just yelled at each other. I was so afraid that the worker would be in a bad mood after that and not let me pass. Thankfully, he was really calm and friendly with me.
Sandra picked me up from the airport. The traffic there was insane. I spent the next few days at her place and since she had to work, we had little time to explore the city. To be completely honest, the 40°C heat and the jetlag turned me into a lazy mess. We went to a few beaches, malls and spent the rest of our free time chilling by the pool or in front of a fan.
On Friday morning, we had planned to rent a car to go to see the Hollywood sign and then start our drive to Las Vegas early on Saturday morning. It seemed like a bulletproof plan but obviously it was everything but that. When we got to the car rental office, they told us that our Estonian debit-credit cards can’t be used to rent a car. So that’s how our plan got ruined.
The whole time I had been in LA, Karan was telling me how they couldn’t wait to meet me and would be ready to come to LA that moment if I just had said so. Now it was time for me to accept the offer. The three of us bought a plane ticket back for Sandra and then we stayed waiting for Karan. We made it to Vegas around 3am and since we were hyped up from all the coffee we had drunk before the drive, we decided to go explore a bit.
The weather in Vegas was even hotter. One half of our days were spent cooling off by the pool and the other discovering the city. On Sunday night we took Sandra to the airport (her plane was delayed from 11am to 19pm, for what we were very happy since we had more time to look around) and headed towards Grand Canyon.
The following day was spent cycling around the Canyon and taking photos. Our drive to San Francisco lasted more than 12 hours but it passed by quite quickly and we were there by midnight.
I had been searching crazily for a place to live on Craigslist and sent countless emails since the beginning of the summer. The only replies I got were obvious scams. I found a group on Facebook called ‘Eestlased Bay Areas’ (‘Estonians in the Bay Area’ – toim) and made a post asking for someone to let me crash on their couch for a few nights until I find my own place. A really lovely girl replied to me and said she is looking for someone to take care of her kitten for 3 weeks while she’s in Estonia. I don’t know how I got so lucky but I am extremely thankful for that.
Her apartment was located only a 20 minute bus drive away from my workplace and true to an Estonian, I arrived in front of the office doors an hour before I was supposed to. A small dog greeted me at the door. All of the workers had gathered in the conference room and were having a video call with our Utah and Spain offices. It’s a monthly tradition where we discuss the biggest accomplishments of the previous month and plans for the following month.
Even though our office is around the same size as an average Tallinn apartment, every new intern gets a welcoming tour. It consists of huge hyperboles and a couple of obvious lies, yet they make it extremely fun. For example, we have two football tables in our office. The older one is placed upright by the wall and apparently it once fell and killed an intern. Now it’s a good luck charm before every new game.
A big part of the team is made up by interns who come from various places around the world – Germany, Austria, France, India, Belgium, Taiwan, South-Africa and so on. I didn’t really have any expectations when I came here, I just wanted to get my ECTS and come to the US. I couldn’t have dreamed of learning so much from it. They always say that interns usually just make coffee and rarely have the freedom to do what they actually want. Everything is completely the opposite at Badger Maps. I’m a marketing and PR intern but as early as the second day, I was made to write their blog, manage their social media accounts and find radio shows for the CEO to attend.
Now, three months later, I’ve managed to improve my CV a lot. Every intern is free to do whatever they find interesting even if it isn’t related to the position they applied for. Several sales interns have done marketing and vice versa. Public relations is managed by almost half of the people at the office and everyone is encouraged to join the engineering projects.
Every Wednesday and Friday we have a Badger Class where either the owner or another full-time employee educates the interns on various subjects. We’ve had classes about personal accounting, finances, how to put together an impressive CV, how computers work, how to find a great job after university and so on.
There’s basically no hierarchy here – the CEO listens to the interns and sometime even learns from them. Even now, as we’re starting our YouTube channel and the owner has no experience in filming or production, me and another intern are the the managers of this project.
I’ve only spent three months here but I’ve learnt a lot. I think everyone could benefit and learn much from the internship here. Especially Estonians, since we’re trying to be innovative and develop quickly just like Silicon Valley.
Oh yeah, did I mention I’m typing this while in my PJs? In the office? Exactly, it’s a Thanksgiving PJ-party!
Written by Brigitte Piip
Pictures by Brigitte Piip
Translated by Triin Tikk
Edited by Kärt Mättikas