Guest Author: Haley Grant
When I graduated from college in 2017 with a degree in English Creative Writing, I had no clear career path in mind. I never could have imagined that the following summer working as a restaurant hostess at a national park in Wyoming would be the catalyst for my career as a freelance writer in Europe and ultimately, as a co-founder of a tech startup based in Boston.
I always had big ambitions for my career. But the thought of starting my own company – a tech company, nonetheless – was never something I envisioned for myself. And yet, here I am, six years later, in one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the US, with a background in marketing and creative writing, building a tech startup from scratch.
I am very excited to share a bit about my professional journey with the Bucketlist Bombshells community, and a few lessons I have learned along the way.
From New York to Wyoming to Spain
My journey began in 2017 after college, as a friend and I drove from New York across the country to work at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. What was meant to be a short-lived summer adventure turned into a life-altering experience. While working at a resort in the national park that summer, I met my now co-founder, Carlos Guisado, who came from Spain to work there that summer.
After spending the summer in Wyoming, I was more uncertain than ever about what I wanted to do with my life. That all changed when Carlos visited my hometown in Upstate New York the following Fall. The only thing I was certain of at that time was my love for travel. So I decided to move to Spain. After landing a freelance writing gig for a travel company, I packed my bags the following Spring and moved to Europe for what was sure to be the adventure of a lifetime.
Two weeks after arriving, I was laid off.
There I was, unemployed and broke in a foreign country, with basically zero professional experience, no understanding of the language, and no way to get a salaried job in Europe (due to lack of work visa). This fueled a sense of determination in me that I had honestly never had before. I applied to basically every remote job I came across online and after only two weeks, I secured a role at Superside, a digital design agency.
My time in Madrid was a pivotal moment in my career, during which time my true work ethic emerged. I did whatever I could to support myself while building up my portfolio, including teaching English part-time, working three jobs at one point, and even taking on volunteer writing assignments. I gradually built up my clientele, from magazines to local blogs to agencies and more. It was also around this time that I came across the amazing Bucketlist Bombshells community!
After 1.5 years with Superside, I wanted a more full-time role and was offered a copywriter position at a company in Madrid. Unfortunately, visa issues dashed my hopes of taking up the role, leaving me discouraged and disheartened. Little did I know, a significant opportunity awaited as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. This marked my entry into Lingokids, an educational app for children, where I experienced substantial growth. I progressed from freelance copywriter to editorial lead, culminating in a content manager role. After two years, I left Lingokids to join Voicemod, an audio tech company, broadening my expertise from marketing to brand and communications.
During this period, Carlos also joined a remote company for the first time. We decided to take advantage of the situation and travel across Europe while working remotely.
Founding Sync, the Airbnb of Workspaces
In 2022, our European road trip took a pivotal turn at our first stop in Prague, when Carlos and I experienced firsthand the challenge of finding suitable workspaces while traveling. Although there were so many different places to work from (cozy coffee shops, quaint bars, restaurants), it was a challenge to figure out which places had the things we needed, like good Wi-Fi, power outlets, comfy seating, and natural light. Since we couldn’t find a solution that addressed this challenge, we decided to create it. And that’s when our company Sync was born.
As I mentioned, I never had any real desire to start my own company. Yes, I was always ambitious and prioritized my career. But starting a company? Wasn’t in the cards. But things took a turn when I realized I personally needed something like Sync, a platform where I could find amazing places to work from that meet my needs and preferences, whether that be a coffee shop, a bar, a restaurant, or a museum. But what started as a solution for finding workspaces evolved into a platform with a much more profound purpose.
Sync’s true purpose is to create a community that brings together remote workers and local businesses that they can work from, addressing the sense of disconnection that sometimes accompanies remote work. To further foster this connection, our platform enables our community to connect with friends and other professionals, see where they like to work from, and network based on mutual interests. We came to realize that our true mission is to make remote work feel less remote.
My Biggest Takeaways
Reflecting on my six-year journey so far, both personally and professionally, I’ve taken away several invaluable lessons:
- True growth happens when you do things you are not qualified to do. Do not let fear of inexperience deter you from pursuing your aspirations. Dare to tackle new challenges that may exceed your current skill set. Honestly, sometimes you need to be delusionally confident to get to where you want to go. In other words, fake it ‘til you make it.
- Be willing to do whatever it takes. I taught English in Spain for a few years, not because I wanted to be a teacher, but because I had to support myself while I got my writing portfolio off the ground. Despite my reluctance to do any job that wasn’t related to writing or marketing, I knew it was a means to an end.
- Imposter syndrome is a sign you’re moving in the right direction. You feel like you’re doing something that you have zero experience doing? Of course you do! Anyone who gets promoted or starts a new role or is moving up the ladder in any way will likely feel like “an imposter” because you are doing something you have never done before. Embrace this feeling.
- Rejection is redirection. Each stumble, every setback, and all the instances that didn’t quite align with my plans have consistently guided me toward more incredible opportunities. I really believe that every challenge is only steering me towards the path that I am meant to follow.
- A positive attitude and strong work ethic are invaluable assets. I’ve come to learn that there will always be someone who is just as qualified, talented, educated, and experienced as I am, if not moreso. What really sets people apart is how you treat others, the attitude with which you approach new challenges, and your overall work ethic. A former manager of mine said it best when she told me that despite my talent and skills, my biggest asset is my positive attitude and desire to learn and grow. And I’ve never forgotten that.
I feel excited and energized when I think about what lies ahead. It’s incredibly motivating to reflect on how far I’ve come. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Bucketlist Bombshells for being the very first professional community to inspire and teach me that I have the power to shape the career and life I desire. This journey has taught me that nothing is beyond my reach if I’m willing to put in the hard work.