It’s easy to get into a groove and make assumptions about our environments. I’ll admit, it’s happened repeatedly throughout the course of my life and I’d guess it happens to others. Perhaps it’s human nature to strive towards feeling at ease with our surroundings – to feel like we know what’s going on. It’s a much more peaceful disposition than the opposite feeling of uncertainty.
A few weeks back I was sitting with my boss and he recommended that I start a Walkabout. Now, I know what you’re thinking… Mick Dundee and crocodiles, right? Well, not exactly…
When I looked up the term Walkabout on Wikipedia, the first line states:
My goal in starting the Rackspace Walkabout is to get to know Rackspace on a different level. To get to know the people and groups that make us… well, us. It’s also my hope to relay what I learn here on Racker Talent. As always, it’s our goal to open the doors as much as possible for future Rackers. We want you to know us before making a decision to join our team.
The Journey Begins in Blacksburg
Last week, I started my Walkabout by visiting our Blacksburg, Virginia office. This was my first time to our facility there and I was pretty excited about meeting everyone.
I left San Antonio at around 5:00 PM on Tuesday. After a stop in Atlanta, I arrived to Roanoke, VA close to midnight. I proceeded to drive the wrong way on the highway for about 25 minutes before I realized something was off. A quick reference to Google Maps and I was back on the right track. My head hit the pillow at about 2:00 AM. Long day!
The next morning, I headed over to our facility. Well, not exactly. Right after grabbing the largest coffee I could purchase, I headed over to our facility. After the initial “Hi, I’m Michael from San Antonio” and security check, I was off to meet the team.
From there, I was given a tour of one half of the facility. The team was amazing! Super friendly, down-to-earth… just very inviting and warm. I was shown the office areas, the break room, the conference rooms (Fight Club and the soon-to-be Finding Nemo room) and the various other touches that make Blacksburg unique.
After my tour, I met with Doug Juanarena, our new Vice President of Operations over the Blacksburg site. He gave me some history around how Rackspace came to be in the area. It would require another post to explain the full scoop, but it was interesting and put most everything into context for me.
Doug then took me for a drive around Blacksburg. We drove through Virginia Tech and the downtown area. Next, he took me to the one of the research parks in town and explained the innovation that’s taking place. Pretty exciting stuff!
Once the day wrapped up, we headed over to Poor Billy’s for dinner – one of a few restaurants located in downtown Blacksburg. The food and environment were excellent and it was a great way to wrap up the day!
Day two started out with snow. I’m not used to waiting for my car to warm up, so it was a new adventure for me.
Huge coffee in hand, I spent most of the day sitting with and getting to know members of our various groups at the site. Teams dedicated to software development, user experience, marketing and human resources. Of course, we also snuck in a pretty intense game of Ping-Pong, which reminded me that I’m totally out of shape.
That evening, most all of the team headed over to Bulls & Bones for Happy Hour. Food, micro brews and some great conversation were the order of the evening.
Day three rolled around and, as you may have guessed, I armed myself with another huge coffee (I’m a bit of a caffeine fan). I headed into the office and met with various Rackers to discuss the upcoming hiring at our facility there – lots of hiring! It wasn’t long before I had to head out to the airport and catch a flight back home. Luckily, this time, I didn’t go the wrong way on the highway for half an hour
For me, Blacksburg was an enchanting town to visit. It’s relatively quaint, but contains most all the amenities one would need. That said, Roanoke is only 45 minutes away and a gentleman at the airport told me that there’s nearly 250,000 people in the surrounding areas.
In addition, Blacksburg boasts a pretty reasonable cost of living – tempting for those who enjoy having the extra land and space.
The other major plus is education. Virginia Tech and Radford University are right next door – no need to travel!
With regard to the Rackers, I’m impressed and I continue to smile over a week later. The team is extremely welcoming, warm and absolutely passionate about our mission. It’s a fun environment and the Rackers genuinely care about each other.
Warm fuzzies aside, they are super focused on software development and making our Email & Apps products top notch. The team is growing rapidly and they are A-critical to the organization’s success. Hiring is a big priority and we’re looking to expand the team.
It was an honor to meet all the Rackers in Virginia and I couldn’t be happier for it being the first stop on my Walkabout. A huge thanks to everyone in Blacksburg and I hope to see you all again soon!
Interested in exploring opportunities in Blacksburg? Check out our openings!
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 family, guitar, photography and exploring the social web. <Read More>Category: Rackers Tags: Blacksburg, Ping-Pong, Rackspace Walkabout, Software Development, Virginia, Virginia Tech