Matt Tengasantos on Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone

Matt Tengasantos, currently the quality assurance tester for Sudokrew, has been with the company for about six years. Prior to Sudokrew, Matt went through about two years of hunting for the perfect job, ended up working fifteen internships. He even had a short stint at BoxJelly! Like many folks, his journey consisted of many trials and many errors where he needed to step out of his comfort zone. When we sat down for a conversation, Matt pointed out three major points in his life that led him to where he is now.


Moving off island

Matt’s first life event that pushed him out of his comfort zone was when he moved to Los Angeles. After graduating from college in 2011 with a degree in public relations, Matt pursued an internship that involved his passion for video games and his college degree. While searching for companies that offered a mix of both, he located one in southern California. He called them asking for an internship opportunity. Despite the internship being unpaid, Matt assured them that “he would figure it out.” Using his savings from working at GameStop, he flew down to California and lived with family while interning in the gaming PR industry. Soon enough, Matt realized that a career in this industry was not for him.

Starting back at square one

Soon after, the young professional moved back home and re-evaluated what he wanted to do with his life. “So what am I do after I move back? I guess I’m going to take my Razor scooter and ask people for work!” Matt went around the Kakaako area and sought an internship from any business he could. He knew that experience was necessary to “make it.” In a matter of two years, the young professional worked fifteen different internships. Eventually, Matt landed a full-time project management position with Sudokrew.

New experiences

Upon his arrival, Matt shared with Spencer Toayama, the Sudokrew co-founder and partner, that he had little experience in the position aside from school projects. Exercising the benefits of working for a smaller company, Matt has learned to roll out what is needed and figuring out how to contribute on the fly. He grew into this position and eventually moved into quality assurance which he has been working in for the last four years.

Full-on adulthood

What is Matt’s latest expedition out of his comfort zone? Moving out of his parents’ house. This was a scary scenario for him. He knew this was the start of “full-on adulthood.” You try to plot out certain scenarios but you don’t actually know until you try. After six months of living on his own, he realized that there are two challenges: staying on top of things and taking care of yourself when you’re sick.

Reflecting on the journey

Matt shares that when you decide to get out of your comfort zone, you have to define your boundaries. Defining your comfort zone allows you to find things that are interesting that exist outside of it. You also have a clear goal of pushing your limits. This way, once you are stepping out of your comfort zone, you have a defined objective and not just aimlessly going for things.

Looking back at the beginning of his career, Matt realized that all his internships organically led into the next opportunity through networking and creating connections. He did not plan it. Everything just naturally happened. It was not about thinking, “I need to step out of my comfort zone?” but rather asking yourself, “What are some things that I’m interested in?,” and taking action and create opportunities. Try a lot of things, do what you think you can do with your options and allow yourself room for trial and error. Find people with problems and figure out how you can help them. From there, things will happen. Trust the process. Make sure you’re  positioning yourself to make relationships and roll with the punches as they come.

“For me it is not about stepping out of my comfort zone. Stepping out of my comfort zone isn’t the point. Stepping out of the comfort zone is just a marker to reflect on after the fact. The real thing, at least for my journey so far, is that you have inherent interests in your objective regardless of how feasible you think they are. Some part of it may be feasible for you no matter what your skillset or experience is. It’s about hitting people up and doing things in the areas that you think you’re interested in, getting in front of those people. All opportunities are going to be through other people. Let that guide your path.”

Lalaine Ignao