More than previous ones, my birthday this year feels significant. Not because it’s a milestone year. Not because I plan on taking advantage of free birthday meals at every chain restaurant I can think of. But because this marks the first anniversary of a trip I took to San Francisco that has forever changed the course of my adventures.

NYC Vanessa would be shocked to learn that SF Vanessa is thriving in the startup world.

Last year at this time, I came to the Bay from New York City to be with some West Coast friends for my birthday, and to escape the grueling heat in the subway stations. When I came out here, I didn’t think I was scoping out a future home. I am a proud New York girl and my whole career had been spent in the book publishing industry.

But something overtook me during my visit. In spending time with so many people doing exciting work in the startup scene, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to get in on the action. The only problem was, I was a bookworm with no real experience in tech.

I’ve been at Eventbrite now for more than nine months. And while the whole transition from the east coast to the west—and from one industry to an entirely different one—has been dazzling, the thing that has most amazed me is how welcoming the tech community has been to a book girl like me. Not only can this be said for my brilliant Eventbrite colleagues who indulge me when I ask questions like, “What part of speech is API?”, but for the whole startup community, at large. I confess to you here, I remember staying up at night in my tiny studio apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, after I accepted my offer at Eventbrite. What if I can’t make the switch? What if I never learn how to talk to engineers?

Here is what I’ve learned: The best part of participating in a conversation that is always evolving is that you can never be behind. What I picked up on during last year’s visit, and what I thrive on every day of my new San Francisco life, is the fact that the startup community is a group of people who are curious, who celebrate seeing things from different perspectives, and who want to teach and learn as much as possible. The eagerness with which people have explained product features, VC strategies, and how the heck SEO works has helped me acclimate quickly. And the number of people who have been keen to learn about PR and all the non-techy stuff that I do has made me feel as though even a book girl like me has something exciting to offer.

So, if you’re thinking of making a switch to startup life, I’m here to tell you that you’ll be welcomed with open arms. It also doesn’t hurt to find an amazing startup to work at (ahem). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for free birthday pancakes at IHOP.

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