It’s been a while since I last updated you guys about my experience in the US, my first story was published quite a long time ago. A lot of stuff happened in 3 months and I chose to compile everything in a single place rather than publishing multiple stories.
In this text I will mostly talk about my professional development and not about cultural changes and how it impacted my personality. Don’t take me wrong, I believe the latest is important as the first.
If you have read my last story, rather than stick with the assigned project, I proposed to my supervisor (which happens to be the IT Director of the company) different methodologies and software tools that I believed could help ship faster, better software and delete communication barriers. Fortunately, after several meetings with the whole IT team (which was not easy due to the fact that we are distributed across 2 cities) we all agreed that my early proposals could indeed benefit us. We then started to slowly adopt the proposed methodologies.
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward”— Chinese proverb
My early proposal raised awareness on things to improve among the team and that’s the thing I’m really proud to contribute.
Embracing opportunities & networking
The biggest reasons why I accepted my internship were the chance to meet smart and interesting people in my field of work that I could not meet hadn’t I left Portugal and the broad opportunities it could give me. Since the first day I arrived I worked really hard in regards to this matter.
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going” — Beverly Sills
The opportunities started appearing and I was getting contacted by people that had business ideas but lacked the technical expertise to implement them, along with a few job offers. One of the people I met was Rob, an experienced guy that had successfully created a profitable business in the past. His passion for creating things, allied with the experience he had, made him quit MIT Business School before he even started and use the money he saved to risk on making some business ideas he had come true. I immediately noticed how like-minded we were.
Fast forward a few weeks, I’ve worked with Rob on some ideas. We applied to the NYC WeWork Creator Awards and pitched our idea: GoShortForm. We didn’t make it to the finals despite having schools interested in our product.
Although Rob knew I was leaving the US he promptly asked if I had interest to work for him in his next ideas. This meant a lot to me. Rob recognized that I’m dedicated, passionate about what I do and I can give him a valuable offer.
Back in Portugal, my Master thesis supervisors knew I was going to the US. With that in mind, they suggested that I submit my paper to a conference that was happening in the US. After all, it was a good opportunity to show what was being done at the University of Porto. We submitted the paper to The IEEE BIBM 2017, which refers itself as “the premier research conference in bioinformatics and biomedicine”.
This paper was the result of my Master’s degree thesis, and as of such I was honestly not expecting it to be accepted. Most of the papers submitted to this conference came as result of an ongoing or finished PhD. In fact, the acceptance rate was only 19.6%. Months later, I was flying to Kansas City to present my work which was a great experience.
While I was in the US I started to get involved in a Bitcoin related open-source project called Zap. The core team is currently comprised by 4 people - the creator Jack, me and 2 designers that run Masen.io. The project got very popular among the crypto community and even got featured live on BloombergTV. I also did a fun cryptocurrency related project with Masen.io called CryptoGift which achieved some success.
As a result of this media exposure, a lot of professional opportunities started to arrive in my mailbox every day.
Finally, I embraced the challenge proposed by Masen.io and happily joined the team as Head of Development. Today I’m happy. When you are doing what you like the most while being surrounded with open minded people you can’t really call it work.