“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”― Steve Jobs
Have you ever wondered how someone ended up where they are? Well, this is the type of story that I can tell from my own experience. My name is Clark and this is my journey.
I grew up in the Philippines and fast track to the summer before I entered college, I had an internship as an assistant auditor for a school, not much on that though.
My college days
Never had exposure, never had options
In 2007, when it was time for me to choose an undergraduate degree, the right degree for me was kind of... limited. This is not due to my parents forcing me to take a certain degree of their choosing but It's more of what I'm exposed to and have knowledge on. Most of my relatives have either small businesses or was working as an accountant or on a business-related job.
Guess now you know I have a Chinese heritage.
Therefore, I chose Accounting for my major. The Accountancy program was very rigorous in De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. I had to keep retaking Accounting subjects and eventually ended up transferring to the finance program.
I said to myself "I know I'll get a job right after graduation in a business-related course."
Taking finance classes were exciting! A lot of domain to learn! These are international banking, statistics, strategies, options, derivatives, economics, risk management, even the database management system, and so much more!
Wow! I could work in the bank, insurance, investments, trading, and mergers and acquisitions, you name it! And anything that concerns with money!
I had another internship towards the end of my program. It was with a treasury department (trading stocks/bonds/currencies/etc) in Allied Bank (now Philippine National Bank).
Whew. The program wasn't so bad. In 2011, I was graduated with an above-average grade and was able to juggle working as a volleyball coach for a high school team.
Entering the job market
What you learned in school is very different in the real world
In 2011 up to 2013, I have worked for Thomson Reuters (TR) as a Financial Analyst for China companies. I was amazed that i don't even need the skills I've learned in college to do my work as a Financial Analyst. This being Thomson Reuters having their own database and accounting standards to follow.
Wait, what? I don't need the skills I've learned in college?
Hmm. Well okay. The pay is good but I don't like the schedule from 2 pm to 10 pm.
In 2013, I found a new job and landed a position in S&P Capital IQ as a Financial Language Editor for China and Taiwan companies.
Wow! Pay is way better and i like my schedule as well. I can keep doing this while doing the things I love such as earning extra income as a non-life insurance sales associate, and freelance disc jockey.
I changed the workplace culture to be more collaborative. I wanted to learn more. But the tasks became repetitive for me.
It's just numbers, data, translation over and over again. I'm not learning new things anymore.
I asked my manager to let me study how our application works. I got turned down. I even told them that I'll do it outside my work hours. But, I still got turned down.
This burned me out and I eventually left my job in 2016. I toured the US for two months and decided to take Master of Business Administration as it makes sense for my educational background and work experience.
Pursuing higher education
Education satisfies curiosity and ends boredom
In 2017, I started my MBA at City University of Seattle and decided to take IT management as my emphasis. Halfway through the program, I took a technology subject and I fell in love with it. I started taking in some undergraduate computer science courses, and I wanted to learn more. My professor told me to go attend meetups in Seattle. I also learned about the cool freeCodeCamp platform, which helped me to know stuff and win in some hackathon events! Check this article, How my team rocked the AngelHack Seattle Hackathon, for my blog on my hackathon experience.
I did 90+ meetups in two years! This includes casual meetups, study groups, coding interview practices, talks, workshops, hackathons, and conferences.
Here I am in 2019 and I'm currently in the Master's of computer science program and has been with that program for a year now. I felt that this time will be the right fit for me. I'm curious, and I love to build stuff. One thing that is different though was I also learned a lot through my mentors, classmates, community, and Bootcamp.
- Learning to code freeCodeCamp, W3Schools
- Reading about technology, Medium, and freeCodeCamp News
- Connecting with the community using Facebook, Twitter, Meetup.com, and Eventbrite.com
My thirst for knowledge was satisfied with computer science
Looking back, these are all the dots that I could connect to my present time.
Dot 1 - In high school, I did well in computer classes Turbo Basic, Visual Basic, C++.
Dot 2 - In my summer job, I was doing manual testing of the software as an assistant auditor.
Dot 3 - In my college days, I easily understood how to use a database management system.
Dot 4 - In my corporate days, I was the go-to guy for basic IT problems in the team before they even ask our IT guys.
Dot 5 - Again in my corporate days, I have built a spreadsheet the has tons of formula to convert a Chinese word/phrase to a full English sentence with correct grammar (Google Translate wasn't as reliable before).
Seems like the universe has been giving me all the subtle signs to be in technology.
Now, I'm still continuously learning, and I have touched upon a lot of technologies:
HTML5, CSS3, Sass, Bootstrap
SQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, NoSQL, DynamoDB
Rails, Node.js, Flask, Django, ASP.Net, React, Angular
Cloud, Serverless, Blockchain
Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Heroku
Unit Testing, Acceptance Testing
MVC, REST, DevOps, Agile, Test-Driven Development
I always take any small wins:
See my profiles:
I'm an author for freeCodeCamp news
I'm an ambassador for Auth0
I'm a campus ambassador for GeeksforGeeks - City University of Seattle
I'm a teaching assistant for Cybrary
I'm a researcher for Smart and Secure Computing Research Group
I'm a graduate assistant for Technology Institute - City University of Seattle
I'm the founder for CityU Tech Clubs
freeCodeCamp certifications: Responsive Web Design, Data Structures and Algorithms
The Firehose Project Bootcamp certification: Software Engineer
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller
Not all achievements were possible by myself
Three Invitations from tech conferences for research papers submitted with my team:
· “Serverless Computing Architecture Security and Quality Analysis” – 23rd Annual Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education (CISSE) 2019
· “Crossing the Chasm between FinTech and Finance Professionals: A Grounded Analysis of Blockchain and Cloud Technology for Future FinTech Information Systems” – The 5th International Conference on Accounting and Finance (ICOAF) 2019
· “Software Architecture Analysis of Serverless Development” –US-Korea Conference (UKC) Chicago 2019
· 2nd Place – Techstars Startup Weekend Seattle 2019
· 1st Place – MBA Case Competition 2018 Case Study – Sony Corporation’s Aibo: An
· Runner Up – AngelHack Seattle Hackathon 2018
And that's all folks. Till next time!