Interview With Duy Nguyen, Software Engineer Apprentice at Twilio

Duy worked as a consultant prior to programming. He’s passionate about helping people break into the Tech Industry and making the World a better place. Here is the interview:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

“I was an immigrant from Vietnam. I moved here when I was eleven. I grow up in San Jose, went to elementary, middle, and high school there. I went to Cal as a bio major with the intention of going to medical school but towards the end of my college career I became unsure if that was something that I wanted to do. I had interests in other fields as well so I wanted to pursue them first. I stumbled upon consulting and I worked at a consulting firm for a year and a half but I realized that I wasn’t passionate about it. I went into programming because it was something that I always wanted to do, I went through Hack Reactor’s coding program, and I’m currently working at Twilio.”

Can you further explain why you picked programming?

“Programming has always been in the back of my mind, but I didn’t have the courage to pursue it. For most people, they are afraid to go into programming because they are scared that they might not like it but it was the opposite for me, I had all these plans that I always wanted to do like going to medical school, and I was afraid that if I got into programming, I would love it and discard all those plans. The day that I decided to get into programming, I realized that it was something that I always wanted to do.”

How were you introduced to programming?

“Growing up, I was always into technology. For as long as I can remember, my dad has always been a huge techie himself. I grew up being around him experimenting with computers. At Cal, I was lucky enough to find a mentor who was studying Computer Science. He told me that I was going to be a programmer one day.”

What’s the impact that your mentor had on you?

“He basically taught me everything (programming-wise) that I know. From the day that I started programming, I would go to his house and he would teach me basic concepts, and he would prepare me for interviews. He passed down a lot of advice to me. I would highly advise people to find their mentor and champion, it’s such an invaluable experience.”

You mentioned Hack Reactor, what is Hack Reactor?

“Hack Reactor is one of the more popular programming bootcamps in the Bay Area. They teach you Full Stack JavaScript; React and Angular for the front end, and Node for the back end. It’s a thirteen week long program divided into two sections. The first section, you work on two day sprints to learn and apply new concepts. In the second section, you work on three different projects; a greenfield project, a legacy project, and a thesis project.”

How much is Hack Reactor?

“When I went, it was $17,800.”

Is it worth it?

“I think so. I’m very grateful for the curriculum and the people that I met. Hack Reactor was able to assemble a great group of individuals. I met some of the hardest working people through that program. I am very grateful for the experience and definitely recommend this to people who are thinking about going into programming.”

What made you choose Hack Reactor over other bootcamps?

“I first applied to App Academy because I liked their payment model but it didn’t work out for me, so I looked for the next best bootcamp which was Hack Reactor. My mentor told me that he knew some people who went through Hack Reactor and they now have jobs, and two software engineers at my consulting firm had also previously attended Hack Reactor. I decided on Hack reactor because they taught JavaScript and because they had a great track record.”

How was the transition from Hack Reactor to Twilio?

“It was good. I had to learn a lot of new things but I’m also applying a lot of things that I learned from Hack Reactor such as working in a team.”

Are you currently working on any side projects right now?

“Yes. Me and my friends are working on teaching people to be more aware of mental health consciousness and I’m rebuilding the entire website,”

What are some last thoughts/advice that you have for everyone who is trying to become a software engineer without going for the cs degree?

“Just do it.”