But first, let me provide some context…
I was born in a small town about two and half hours outside of San Francisco.
Merced, CA was “home” to my Mom’s side of the family. My Grandpa was a dentist in town and heavily involved with aviation. I still remember going out to the airfield and watching him fly. He had a Christian Eagle and a BD-5… the James Bond plane. My Grandmother also had her pilot’s license, so they enjoyed some fun times together in the air.
Modesto was my Dad’s home turf. My Grandparents, on my Dad’s side, had been there for years. For the movie buffs out there, my Dad attended Downey High School, which was the setting for George Lucas’ film American Graffiti. In the film, Downey was called Dewey and the class portrayed graduated a year before my Dad. It’s fun to watch the movie with him.
When I was five, we packed up and moved to Hillsboro, OR in order to be closer to the majority of our family – over a hundred first, second and third cousins on my Dad’s side. The family reunions were out of control!
Hillsboro is where we finally settled down. It was a good place to grow up. The town was small (80,000 people at the time) and we had a pretty good support network of family. The plants, trees and natural surroundings were fun for me as a child. Having the ocean just over an hour away was pretty cool too.
When I was 15, my cousin came back from a year abroad in Australia with Rotary International. After hearing her stories and the adventures she had experienced, I decided that becoming an exchange student was a great next step. I was interested in learning Spanish and experiencing a new culture, so I applied and was fortunate enough to get accepted. At 16, I headed off for my year abroad in Guatemala. The year that followed provided me with enough stories to last a lifetime…
In short, I spent time living in both Guatemala City and a small town called Coatepeque. In total, I stayed with nine hosts families ranging from a bachelor in downtown Guatemala City to ranchers who owned a bullfighting ring in Coatepeque. We even had bullfighters stay with us – quite an adventure for a 16 year old.
After my year abroad, I moved back to Oregon and finished High School. Instead of going straight to college after graduation, I followed a girl to Argentina.
I spent the next year living in Córdoba, Argentina, where I started playing guitar and brushing up on my Spanish. Beautiful country!
A year and many adventures later, I came back to the U.S. and started college in Los Angeles, CA. I had met a few people from this cool little two-year college on the Palos Verdes Peninsula that seemed interesting. Marymount College had small classes, great professors and lots of opportunities to get involved. In fact, I ran and was elected Student Body President in my sophomore year. It was a great experience and the right decision for me at that time.
After graduating, I moved to Washington, DC to finish up my undergraduate studies at Georgetown University. Having developed quite a passion for international topics, I chose to study International Relations with an emphasis in Culture and Politics. Georgetown, like Marymount, offered intimate classroom settings and many opportunities to get involved. Unfortunately (and fortunately), the majority of tuition and living expenses fell on my shoulders, so I ended up working two jobs while attending school full-time. It was a challenging balance, but in May of 2003, I graduated…
Washington, DC, while super fun and interesting, was expensive and I was in no position to continue paying $1,800 a month for a tiny apartment, so I moved to Phoenix, AZ to be closer to my Brother and start my career.
After a few months of new grad career confusion, I was hired to work for a recruiting company. I spent the next four years working in a variety of roles and developed quite a passion for the business of talent acquisition. Finding great people for great companies has a way of growing on you.
Texas or Bust!
In 2007, there was an opportunity to move to Texas. My mind was racing with what I might encounter…
For starters, the whole “Y’all” thing… I didn’t know how I was going to deal with it. The other stigma I had was about Texas Pride… how could these Texans be so proud all the time. Are they just pretentious? As always, I decided to leave preconceptions behind and jump in. Destination: San Antonio, TX.
Over three years later, I can tell you that Texas is much more than I could have ever imagined. It’s home and I love it!
So, why am I writing this and what purpose does it serve on our careers site? Great question!
Many out-of-state candidates ask about life here in Texas. To be perfectly honest, they are usually hesitant. While the road that led me here is unique, I’ve learned that many people contemplate the same questions before making a major move.
Back to what I experienced…
People don’t say “Y’all” all the time… even though I do (sometimes just for fun). The Texas Pride thing is real, but not in a pretentious way. Football is taken seriously – very seriously! The steaks are amazing and if you like Mexican food, you’ll be in heaven.
Moving to Texas, from almost any other part of the country, you’re likely to find the opportunities plentiful and the tax system refreshing… no state income tax (yay!).
Businesses are growing and the overall mood is optimistic and ambitious. If that weren’t enough, the cost of living is very reasonable.
If you’ve yet to visit, come down and see what it’s all about. While here, check out the River Walk and The Alamo, but also be sure to check out the Hill Country. Towns like Boerne and Fredericksburg help make this part of the country special and enchanting. Vineyards, history, great shopping and beautiful countryside.
Due to our economy, activities available and the cost of living, Forbes.com recently added San Antonio to the “America’s Best Cities for Young Adults” list.
After having lived in 3 countries, 6 states and 11 cities (on both coasts), I’ve become a bit more critical and less attached. I had all but lost the desire to lay roots in any one particular location. For me, Texas has changed that.
If you make it down this way, be sure to let me know. I’d be happy to give you some tips for your visit and, of course, a tour of the Rackspace headquarters – The Castle!
In 2010, Michael joined Rackspace Hosting in San Antonio, TX to head up global employment branding initiatives. Since becoming a “Racker,” Michael launched RackerTalent.com and has brought together internal bloggers from five continents to share the authentic culture of the organization.
Michael is a graduate of Georgetown University with a degree in International Relations. He has lived multiple years abroad in both Guatemala and Argentina. In his spare time, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, playing guitar, photography and exploring the social web.
Photo Credit – Andes Mountains – by Michael LongCategory: Rackers Tags: Fun things to do in San Antonio, Hill Country, Moving to Texas, Museums in Texas, San Antonio, Texas, Travel, TX