Always Adventure-Ready

4 weeks ago; I lost a job I loved, a team that I believed in, an annual bonus, and my US immigration status.

Today I accepted a dream job offer.

I wanted to write something about that experience. What I learned, how I felt, and the process of finding a job in a global pandemic.

In a billion-dollar unicorn startup, you learn to roll with the punches. You don’t have to always agree, you have to adapt.

The last 4 weeks in isolation have been one of the most focused periods of my career. It’s helped me understand what I want to become and what I don’t want to be.

I preach too much 💯

Be nimble, embrace change. Only worry about the things in your control.

It was time for me to practice.

Within a few minutes of being laid off, I call Mom obviously. We spoke for 2 minutes, our shortest ever phone call. I told her the bad news and that I didn’t have time to chat.

There was no time for bitterness. My H1B Visa only allows for a 60-day grace period. Returning to Europe was tempting but I love my American life. I wasn’t going to give that up so easily.

I worked tirelessly.

7 things I learned

  1. You reap what you sow. Be honest, passionate, professional, but most of all, be kind to people. Over time, it pays off. Thankful for everyone who helped me, I will remember you.
  2. Be brave. Share your Resume, Portfolio, Deck with your network. Get a second opinion.
  3. Initially cast a wide net. To some degree disregard location, industry, or size. Start talking to companies; seek shared values, try to find a team you’d love to be a member of and a company mission that excites you.
  4. Your portfolio/website will never be finished. Be scrappy, move fast. You can add depth and polish iteratively.
  5. Treat every interview as a win. An opportunity to hone your pitch.
  6. Always be you. It’s impossible to find a good match with a company/team if you pretend to be something you’re not.
  7. There will always be self-doubt. Believe in yourself.


Within 3 weeks; I had 4 offers, another week of back to back onsite interviews, and a handful of pending interviews/offers.

A streak of 8 onsite interviews in 8 business days, is taxing. But I love the climb. With each interview and offer, I grew in confidence.

My next adventure

I then had a big decision to make. SF, SEA, LA, NY, HOU, BE, LDN?

Building another fintech app won’t inspire you to do my best work.

There was always one offer that shined more brightly than any other. It wasn’t the money or the title, it was the mission.

I start my new role as Director of Product Design at Axon on May 18, 2020. The mission is to protect life.

Designing a safer world is something I can get behind. It will push me to be my best self.

My niece thinks I’m designing the next Robocop 🤣.

Goodbye SF. Hi SEA 👋

The last 2 years in San Francisco have been a blast, but it’s time to return to Seattle life 🌿🏔💚. I was never really ready to leave but too curious to stay.

I’m going to miss the cali sunshine, the trails, the music but mostly all the beautiful people I’ve met. I know we will meet again a little further down the road.

Relocating and starting again, it’s hard every time. But things change. Change is inevitable. Change gives you an opportunity to reach new heights.

Stay safe please ✌️

Published by Karsten Rowe

Karsten is a Product Design Director, with over 15 years of industry history. Based in Seattle. Focused on teams, UI, UX, and design systems.