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Sarah Cooper on what it was like to leave Google to pursue standup comedy

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  • Comedian Sarah Cooper quit her job at Google three
    years ago to pursue a career in stand-up comedy.
  • Cooper chatted with Recode’s Kara Swisher and former
    Twitter CEO Dick Costolo about the difficulty of giving up her
    job at Google, her observations on tech culture, and her
    aspirations as a comedian in a recent podcast.

Three years ago, Sarah Cooper made an unusual career move.

The Georgia Tech graduate had spent the past eight years working
in user experience (UX) design at tech companies including Yahoo
and Google, but now she was giving up her coveted career in tech
to pursue her passion: comedy. 

Cooper recently chatted about her decision to quit Google with
journalist Kara Swisher and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo — who
once pursued a career in standup comedy himself — on
Recode’s latest Recode Decode podcast.

Cooper talked about how she first decided to take a stab at
stand-up to improve her acting skills after graduating college.
She downed eight beers before taking to the stage at an open mic
in a downtown Atlanta lounge and was immediately hooked. “They
couldn’t get me off stage,” she said. “I was up there for eight
minutes and it was supposed to be five.”

Shortly after, Cooper decided to move to New York in order to
pursue a career in stand-up full time. After struggling to pay
off her student loans, she applied for a job in UX design at
Google’s New York headquarters. “My fallback career turned out to
be other people’s main idea of a great career,” she jokes. 

At Google, she specialized in designing the toolbars for Google
docs, sheets, and slides, and drew inspiration for her comedy
from the company’s culture.  In 2014, she published a
satirical office guide, “10
Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings
,” that included
tongue-in-cheek tips like “Draw a Venn diagram” and “Pace around
the room.” The post went viral almost immediately, clocking in at
nearly 20,000 views on Medium. 

The article’s success inspired Cooper to return to her original
passion, and, a few months later, she sat down with explained to
her supervisor at Google that she intended to leave the company
in order to focus full-time on her aspirations in comedy.

an interview with The Observer
, she describes the move as
difficult. “It took six months of going back and forth,” she
said. “The fear you have is that nothing will be better than
working at Google.”

But Cooper’s move paid off. It wasn’t long before she had found
an agent and began working on a book,  “100 Tips to Appear
Smart During Meetings,” which was published in October
2016. Now, you can find her quick-witted observations on
office culture and pitch-perfect tech industry observations
chronicled on her website, The Cooper Review

To hear Cooper’s story in her own words, listen to Recode’s full
interview here

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