Graduation, WSOP, and Job

It’s getting to be that time. In less than 36 hours, I’ll walk. I’ll receive that diploma I’ve worked for 4 years and paid a boatload of money to earn. It feels paradoxical to me. Time seemed to drag on for millennia, yet also flit by in the blink of an eye. This moment feels like the culmination of my life at times, but at others it feels like the epitome of anti-climax. Words can’t describe this time for me yet. But maybe in a few days they’ll be able to.

Perhaps even more importantly than the degree itself is what it’s gotten me into – that’s right, a job!

After a few so-so interviews with companies I was only mildly interested in, I got a call back from a company called Epic based out of Madison, Wisconsin. The company makes medical software, primarily for electronic medical records. Epic is a leader in its field, and even more appealing was the fact that they seemed willing to take non-specialized new hires so long as they were driven, bright, and eager to learn.

This was especially important for me, because after 4 years as a physics major and dabbling in as many of my interests as I could, I found myself not particularly specialized for the type of work I was looking for: programming and data science. Luckily for me, even though I wasn’t specialized for those things, I was a strong problem-solver and analytical thinker in general, and this stood out on my resume. Both through my interests and my past summer research experience. I was told I would hear back after my informational interview and online tests in 1-2 weeks. I was called back for an on-site interview in 4 days.

The interview day was a little overwhelming. I was flown to Madison, where I stayed in a fairly upscale hotel room – all expenses paid. I got almost no sleep the night before, getting into the hotel around 11pm, and then spending a couple hours reviewing questions I wanted to ask. When I finally went to bed, I didn’t sleep. I tossed and turned for about 2 hours. When I woke up at 6am to eat breakfast and prepare for my 8:00am start, my sleep app told me I’d had my second-worst night of sleep ever with a rating of 44%. My only worse night had been rated at 26%, when I got back from a late-night poker session at 9am and only slept 3 hours.

But I was determined to do well. I had an awkward experience on the cab ride to the company’s headquarters when I had to share the ride with another uncomfortable candidate. Once we got to Epic, I was immediately impressed. Everything about their campus spoke of plenty of money and an atmosphere of enjoyment and enthusiasm. Silly, Dr. Seuss-inspired art lined the halls, and their main headquarters room was the Galaxy Room in the Andromeda building (nerd central, am I right?).

I was interviewing for two different positions, so my day was a hodge podge, and I met about 10 different people over the course of the day. But by the end I felt very confident – and I loved the place. I felt I did extremely well in every interview portion, and interacted well with everyone I met during the informational meetings. My final meeting with the HR rep in charge of overseeing my day of interviewing also went well. He clarified a few things on my resume, and I got to dig into the meat of some of my past summer work, which really helped put my skills into perspective. Suffice it to say – with a strong effort to not be overconfident and then be extremely disappointed if the worst should happen… I would have been very surprised if I didn’t receive an offer.

And an offer I received. None of my references were even contacted. I’ll be starting work (well, training) on July 7th. In the meantime, I’ll graduate, spend some time at home in Boston, and find an apartment in the Madison area. Ideally I’ll be fully moved in and fairly settled by the time I start.

But before work, there’s poker to be played.

A lot has gone into the planning stages, but I’ve got a plan fairly nailed down at this point. I’ll be going to Vegas for 7 nights, from June 29th through July 7th. I’ll mostly be playing cash games – unless I run really well in the one series tournament I’ll be playing. The WSOP will be running the Little One For One Drop for the second year in a row. It is a $1,111 buyin tournament, with 10% going to tournament fees and 10% going to charity. I’ve got a pretty sweet deal with Cardschat – they’re running a promo in relation to the tourney. You can check it out here: http://www.cardschat.com/f13/wsop-2014-cardschats-little-one-one-244156/

If I do quite well, then I’ll obviously be playing for more days. But if I bust kind of early I’ll be headed to the cash tables to try to put in some solid hours. Either way, it should be a blast – and a cheap one at that. My first 5 nights, I’ll be splitting a room with a friend at Bally’s. Somehow, since the first 5 nights are weeknights, I managed to get comped for the whole thing. So aside from maybe a resort fee or something, it will be 100% free. Then the next 2 nights will be spent at Gold Coast Casino. My friend will be staying in the room for 9 nights total, and it’s only going to cost around $700 after taxes and resort fees. I’ll be splitting the weekend costs with him, so I probably won’t spend anymore than $100 or so on housing.

A pretty good deal – but airfare is going to be another story entirely. I think it’s going to cost me over $500 roundtrip to travel to Vegas, and the trip times are likely to be awkward. If timing ends up being bad for sleep I guess I can just compensate by playing some long cash sessions to get me on a more normal schedule for the Little Drop. But back to prices, it’s looking like airfare + tournament + hotel + food is probably going to cost somewhere between $1,800 and $2,200, so it would be pretty awesome if I had some winning sessions thrown in there too.

___________________________________________________________________________

It’s now May 18th, and I walked. Diploma in hand, I’m ready to leave Ohio for a while. I’ll be home for about a month and a week before Vegas, and in between that I’ll need to find somewhere to live in the Madison area. Then work. There’s a lot to do before then, but there’s still some time to relax, hang out with my girlfriend, and who knows, maybe even play some poker.

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