From the Austrian Alps to Startup Institute

By: Carina Wetzlhütter

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At twenty two, I hit my “quarter-life crisis.” It was a feeling of constant confusion. You graduate from college and realize that there is just way more to the world than the simple path you thought about a few years ago. 

Originally from a small town in the Austrian Alps, I embarked on a journey to conquer the world studying tourism management in 2009. My career choice gave me the opportunity to live and work abroad for a third of the time it took me to complete my degree. After working in South America for half a year, I slowly realized  the that the limitless possibilities my generation faces right now, was actually quite daunting. How do you find the right direction when there are so many?

Like many of my college classmates, I had no clue about what I would do after graduation. Ultimately, I decided to travel and see even more of the world. I traveled by train throughout Russia and immersed myself in the nature of northern Finland by hiking for days, isolated from civilization.

Somewhere in between chopping firewood and collecting blueberries, I had a realization. I still had not defined what I really wanted to do! I began sourcing my interests and ended up passing an intense physical entrance exam at school to study sports science; and oddly enough the day after I got an interview with the one company I sent a job application. I took the job.

Eight months later, I felt drained  after working too long in a company environment that did not fit my personality. Once again, I began assessing my options but this time I came across Startup Institute. I wanted to dive into the world of startup marketing, to focus on my values and find a work environment that fits. Naturally, I wanted to work and live abroad again. I jumped on the opportunity and spent a fair amount of time completing the application form.

Earlier this month, I completed the Technical Marketing Track at Startup Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. It has been the perfect, intense professional accelerator for me to gather ‘hard skills’ in online marketing which I felt I was lacking. Also, Startup Institute helped me focus on understanding how I operate in various work environments. I now feel confident that I’ll never again join a company culture that prevents me from enjoying my work.

For now, I’m traveling across the U.S., climbing up rocks and having a blast while deciding if it leads me back to Austria, Canada, or to northern Europe. The most important takeaway though is that the ‘simple path’ resembles a fun and diverse hiking trail, one that we must pave for ourselves in order to advance.