Here is a summary of the First Lecture in the Career exploration series, the Tech Industry
Youth group career path series: Computer science tech industry
People: Mr. Don Sun, Mr. Shiang Long, Dr. Chang Li
Mr. Don Sun
- Works at Open X
- Is a product manager currently
- Was interested in computer games, which lead him to coding
Mr. Shiang Long:
- Just started his job
- Looked at CS and it seemed like a good fit for him
Dr. Chiang Li
- Works for IBM
- Liked math and science as a high schooler
- When she got to college, she became more interested in Computer Science, instead of Engineering
Q: What is a typical day in the tech field?
Mr. Don Sun: There are typically quite a few meetings, were people talk about what they are doing. It typically varies, as sometimes I work on my own, I work with others, or when we collaborate together
Mr. Shiang Long: Every morning we will have various meetings, and I typically have a lot of meetings on all aspects of the project.
Dr. Chiang Li: It is typically flexible, as long as you are on schedule to complete your task.
Q: What do you like about doing your job?
Dr. Chiang Li: It provides a decent pay, and you work with a lot of smart people, and you work with different kinds of people with different types of background.
Don: I feel like I am solving a lot of interesting problems, I feel that coding is like a set of building blocks, as you can create some new solutions with the tools given. I feel that I have more direction, as you have more guidelines and standards than school.
Shiang: I feel that my field varies and changes a lot.
Q: What is the ugly truth behind your job, what do you not like about your job?
Shiang: There is a lot of pressure, as you have to be on top of your job. There also is some amount of politics involved.
Don: This is different than school, as the dynamic of group projects changes, as the politics in the job varies differently.
Chiang: IBM is so big, and it can feel overwhelming. However, there are a lot of resources that you can fully utilize and you can also find your own mentor to guide along the path. It takes some time to adjust to this framework, but give it time, and it will work.
Q: How do you adapt to the changes in the field?
Shiang: It is important to be adaptable and have a good manager.
Don: I adapt by being observant and having a good grasp of your surroundings.
Q: What does success look like in your field?
Chiang: It depends on what you want to be. For instance, in IBM you can choose the management or tech path, which allows you to expand your skills in those respective areas.
Don: I’ll just speak for myself, as a software engineer. I feel that as an engineer, you need to solve problems at a higher level of abstraction, as that will allow you to tackle general problems and be more involved in your field.
Shiang: I feel that I have outgrown that fresh phase, and as a result, I focus more on the bonuses, and rewards that I get, as I understand that I cannot be complacent, as I am easily replaced.
Q: What would you say to your past self, as a lot of people are high schoollers in this lecture.
Shiang: I feel that it is important to seek out internships and career opportunities
Don: I agree. I would also add that expanding your math maturity is important, as it gives you the tool kit to understand and code large problems.
Chiang: I feel that I shouldn’t have worried, as I now know that life is full of adventures and challenges, and I can’t even remember my current child desires and wants academically. Another thing that I would like to add is that I recommend you seek and bring along your desires and interests in college. The lessons learned in this quest will help you out a lot. For instance, in IBM, there are a lot of variety among the various fields, as you have people who do psychology, and AI projects. I also believe that as highschoolers, you should try and spend more time with your parents, as I believe highschoolers need to emphasize family time, especially as that young age.
Q: How do you maintain work life balance?
Shiang: I feel that work life balance is hard to maintain in a CS job, as many jobs require for you to be on call, in case your system breaks down, which can cause a lot of stress on this relationship.
Q: What is another skill that you feel is important besides coding?
Chiang: I feel that communicating is an crucial skill besides CS. This is because the ability to connect to people allows for better work ability and collaborate with people. A good way to practice this is by always having a good relationship with your teacher, which can help your teacher to help you down the road.
Don: I think that communication, both verbal and written is especially important, as you are able to express your ideas in a clear manner, helping your group communicate better and better express your ideas. Written communication is also important, as it is a lot more permanent than verbal.
Shiang: I would like people to practice communication skills, as you have to collaborate in groups, and is also needed in various job related projects, such as recruiting.
Q: Is there a class/subject that you didn’t particular think much of in school, but found helpful after becoming a working professional.
Shiang: I believe that school did not prepare me well, as it taught me the basics, but not the actual job experience, which you learn on the job.
Don: I agree. School doesn’t teach you the specifics that you need, it just tells you how to think and learn. However, the way that you think is essentially a different way to think and problem solve, and this diversity can help you in a CS career.
Chiang: I think the biggest thing that school provided me with is that it allowed me to have a baseline, which allowed me to build up and learn a greater amount of things. The solid foundation allowed me to diverge and go into different directions. For high school and college students, I think that you should look around and seek out opportunities from career fairs and professors.
Q: Any word of wisdom or encouragement for the audience?
Shiang: I feel that CS and tech is infiltrating into a lot of fields. An important thing to know that tech will be into everything, and you can use technology to just expand your interests. You don’t have to sit at a computer, just use the skillset CS teaches you.
Don: I feel that CS, if you have an interest in it, it should be a genuine interest, and not things that the other people tell you, and be true to yourself on what you truly want to do.
Chiang: I agree with Don. It is important to be true to yourself, and seek out your interests, and understand and follow your interests. In my opinion, it is best to seek out the things that you are interested in, as you will be significantly more interested and motivated to learn those subjects. I see that coding is a lot of hands on activity. For instance, a lot of the interns, the people do not want to roll up their sleeves and work, so they failed in that aspect of their tasks. In the end, I feel that there are many people who can do a lot in the tech field, as artists can be involved in the UI design.