Why I changed my career 3 times before 30

Growing up, I was a terrible student. I never really liked going to school and it was always a struggle for my parents to drag me out of bed every morning. It all seemed so pointless to me. Learning random formulas, bits of trivia about the American Civil War, and the barrage of extracurricular activities. In all honestly, all I wanted to do was play video games. I guess I was just like any other kid growing up with the N64.

Bottom line, I hated learning for the sake of learning. I wished I knew this about myself a long time ago.

Everyone whines about why it was so hard for them to get their first job, especially my generation. I graduated college in 2010, so it wasn’t that long after the financial crisis of 2008. No one wanted to hire a fresh college grad with zero experience. My friends and I would often complain about how hard it was to find a job, and how ridiculous these companies were looking to hire grads with two years of work experience.

I went to college so I can get a job. How were we supposed to have experience already?

said every college grad during that time. If I look back though, there were plenty of opportunities for me to get my feet wet. Instead of applying for internships during the summer, I went abroad to Korea and Japan. Also I was a guild leader in WoW so that took some time away. Biggest understatement ever. I didn’t really try to get more experience, because I believed that a awesome job awaited me after I graduated.

The point is, getting my first job was tough for me. I grew up pretty sheltered, and I never had to pay for anything. It was such a shock for me that no one wanted to hire me. A fresh college grad with no useful skills with just an economics degree. Its kinda of funny that I thought like this back then.

In the end, I convinced my parents that I need to go back to school, and this time I would learn something really practical. Something that every company needed. I found a accelerated accounting program at Santa Clara University that taught everything you needed to learn to sit for the CPA exam in about 8 months. It was perfect for me as I was still not a big fan of school and the thought of going to grad school for two more years gave me the chills.

Enter my first job as an Accountant. I was pretty close to getting into one of the big fours. I even went to the final rounds with E&Y. I still blame WoW and my raiding schedule on why I didn’t get that job. Luckily, I knew enough Korean and accounting to land a job at a Korean CPA firm. I was pretty stoked about it and I thought I finally made it. This feeling didn’t last long.

I can go into many reasons why I hated this job, but the main thing was that I didn’t enjoy accounting. For lack of better words, I found it boring. I didn’t really make anything, I just accounted for things that had already happened. Kinda of ironic that I didn’t notice this fact about the job. Even the title of the job literally describes what the job function is.

Working for the sake of working is draining.

Towards the end of my year at my accounting firm, I wanted to jump ship desperately. Good fortune shined upon me once again in the form of my father. He was able to hook me up with a job at one of his friend’s company. This was a totally new field in the semi-conductor industry. I had zero experience and no technical background, but my new boss accepted me with open arms. I started working at Green Circuits. We made PCBA assemblies for hardware companies in Silicon Valley and other parts of the world. the following 5 years or so, I learned a ton under my bosses wings. I become a PM, I had my own clients and things were pretty great, but something was missing. I had a crazy desire to make things.

During this time of growth, I started to dabble into a bunch of side projects. My friends and I wanted to make apps so I learned how to draw and make assets. We released a few games and that was awesome. After that, I ran a webcomic series for about a year, started a t-shirt business and even published children books on amazon. I also got into making YouTube videos and podcasting. For whatever reason, I just kept wanted to make things.

I had a passion for learning something for a specify goal.

My fiancé at the time, now wife, eventually got fed up with me switching hobbies every few years and told me to pick one thing and stick with it. After racking my brain for couple days, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to give programming a serious shot. My rationale was that, since I knew how to draw and make assets already, If I just learned how to program, I can make apps all by myself. After about two failed attempts and a lot of encouragement from my developer friends. I fell in love with coding and developing apps. I simply couldn’t get enough of it. I remember rushing home from work just so I can do more Hackerrank problems or working on a todo app for the umpteenth time. After I released my first game to the app store, a simple clone of flappy bird re-themed to a space ship dodging meteors, I knew programming was something I was passionate about. My friends were probably pretty annoyed at me by then, because all I wanted to do was talk about tech and ask them about simple programming concepts.

What the hell is REST? and who is resting?

Noob questions for days. Looking back, I’m very fond of these memories. Eventually, I came to a fork in the road. Stay at my current job, or pursue this new found passion of mine. It was tough, I had just gotten married and telling my newly wed wife that I was going to quit my job was the last thing I wanted to do. Surprisingly she was very supportive and said this

Not many people get to do what they are passionate about for their living. Go for it babe.

She is pretty amazing and I’m lucky to have her as my wife. :)

The next bit of my journey I’ll save for another time, but now I’m working as a software engineer at Capital One and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m forever grateful to my boss Jesse Palmer for giving me a shot at this dream of mine.

In summary, I understand that not everyone is in a position to just quit their job and chase after something they are passionate about. It’s definitely a extreme thing to do.

The only thing I can say is that the pain and hard times chasing after something you are passionate about is worth it.

Thanks for reading this little shindig of mine. One of my goals for the next year is to get better at writing. I’m hoping to journal more about my experiences, programming, reviews of software classes I took and many more.