Draper University Alumni Spotlight: Josie Cheng

Josie Cheng (right) with Tim Draper.

Josie Cheng is a Data Analyst at Udacity and a graduate of Draper University’s 2015 Hero Training class.

Draper University: Where are you originally from?

Josie: I grew up in Taiwan.

Draper University: How did you hear about Draper University?

Josie: I read “The Startup Game” when I was a senior in college, because I was interested in the VC industry and the book was on my booklist. After I read the book, I learned more about the Draper family and Silicon Valley. That was also the first time I was exposed to the stories of Silicon Valley. Many years later, I saw in the news that Tim Draper had founded Draper University. Meanwhile, I faced some culture shock as a management trainee during my first full time job and started thinking about some mindset shifts that the organization could adopt and how to innovate. I was so excited about having the chance to meet the people in the book and experience Silicon Valley and learn how people in Silicon Valley think and how they take risks to do things that nobody has ever done before. So, I applied to Draper University and got offered financial aid to attend.

Draper University: What was your most memorable experience at Draper University?

Josie: Definitely SURVIVAL WEEK! I hate any kind of outdoor activities, particularly hiking. Moreover, the activities of survival week are full of uncertainties. I was so afraid of survival week and tried to leave, but then I was taken back to survival week by the Draper University staff. In the beginning, I was so unhappy. I thought school taught us that failure could be accepted, but this time, the Draper Staff didn’t let me fail. Eventually, I realized that I was super lucky! I had awesome teammates and Tim Draper! Tim Draper spent lots of time talking to me during survival week and tried to encourage me and give me more courage so that I could get through the whole thing. My sweet teammates helped me overall with most tasks during survival week. At that time, I understood one thing suddenly. If everyone is helping me so much, how come I want to give up on myself? I also learned the difference between failure and giving up. Failure is the result of something that does not go as expected! Giving up is when you don’t want to try something. I learned lots of thing during Draper University, but this absolutely was the biggest lesson learned I got from Draper University. I became more brave after the experience! I learned that there is nothing I cannot do in the world!

Draper University: What was the most important thing you learned at Draper University?

Josie: “Be bold, think big, be willing to fail, and go for it.” “Take risks and fail and fail again until you succeed.” I think I totally changed and executed this new mindset in the real world.

Josie Cheng during a board breaking session.

Draper University: How does having gone to Draper University help you in your current role as Data Analyst at Udacity?

Josie: To be honest, the Draper University experience was one of the most important factors that landed me an offer from Udacity. Udacity noticed that I had more of a Silicon Valley mindset and could fit the company culture! Moreover, when I work for Udacity as a Data Analyst (I also do some growth hacking/marketing things), I think big, fail fast and take risks. These are some of the things Udacity has always encouraged us to do, and these are the same principles I learned from Draper University. I am so glad that I learned these things at Draper University and have had the chance to execute it in my life / my job at Udacity! Also, I learned the method and mindset of a growth hacker and the lean startup methodology at Draper University and right now, I practice it at Udacity!

Draper University: What are some things that you learned about yourself through Draper University that you did not know before you joined the program?

Josie: In the past, everyone including myself thought I was a brave girl. However, I learned through Draper University that I wasn’t as brave as I looked. When I knew that the result of my efforts would be positive, I would not care about what others thought. However, in times when I was afraid of uncertainty, oftentimes, I didn’t have enough courage to embrace the challenges and take big risks! However, after my Draper University experience, I was able to coax myself out of my comfort zone and always remind myself — be brave, take risks and fail and fail again until succeed.


To learn more about Draper University’s upcoming 5.5 week Summer Hero Training program, please click here and to learn more about our amazing alumni, click here.

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