Gen ACM — Roy Feng
Generation ACM — Gen ACM for short — is our take on the people who shape UCR’s ACM chapter each year. We highlight members who embody what it means to pave the way for future generations and let them share their stories as inspiration for anyone looking for guidance in the tech field or life in general.
Roy Feng is currently a junior majoring in Computer Science. Born and raised in the metropolitan city of Madison, Wisconsin, Roy brings his impeccable humor, wit, and ambition as the president of ACM. Outside of ACM, he is the professional development chair at IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Here Roy pushes out slides for others to learn about the opportunities that are out there.
Why did you stay in ACM — as I know you’re currently a junior?
One point of passion that drives me to continue with ACM is my desire to help level out the playing field a bit — I am fortunate enough to have entered college with some preexisting knowledge of CS (Computer Science) from high school and community college courses, and it also helps that my sister majored in EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) when she was in college.
Not everyone knows about research and internship opportunities, or how critical they are, when they first begin their journey as a Computer Science major.
Through ACM, I feel that I have the ability to educate and inform members of opportunities, as well as introduce them to tools and technologies outside of the scope of their courses. Another reason is because I’m surrounded by friends in ACM and they’re a pretty strong motivational factor.
That’s amazing! So, as President though, what do you do?
A little bit of everything! My main job is making sure everything runs smoothly, handling administrative tasks, finding new initiatives for ACM, and more.
You’ve been the President for quite some time now though; what would you say then is the hardest part about the job?
I think the hardest part is taking on the role of the “villain” where I have to “Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit.” I dislike being in the position where I have to tell someone, “Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve had an update on X, let’s set a hard deadline for Y date for Z tasks.” I’ve always struggled with being assertive and this is something I continue to work on.
As you have been a member of ACM for almost 3 years, do you have any favorite memories?
I have a ton, so it’s kinda hard to choose…I’m going to go with the general category of memories where other ACM people and I hang out in voice chat or call and just talk about whatever crosses our streams of consciousness.
Why should others join ACM then?
“Be the change you want to see in the world” — Mahatma Gandhi…a quote you can find at every 7 Leaves boba shop.
I’ve always really enjoyed technology and computers, so choosing Computer Science made the most sense when I was applying to colleges.
I think I had a misconception of what Computer Science would be like though — I imagined much more implementation…much more building projects for “funsies.” As a result of that misconception, I imagined having more time and support to be able to kinda build any random project that pops into my head. Since that misconception has been corrected, I still find CS incredibly rewarding just because of how diverse the career options are once I graduate — PM, SWE, architect (eventually), etc.
Bouncing off of that, would you say CS was your first-choice major or did you something else in mind at first?
CS was my first major! If I were forced to choose any major besides CS, however, I think I’d go with biology or something along the pre-med track. I think oncology, biogerontology, and psychology research are incredibly interesting fields.
Specifically, what areas of CS would you then say you are interested in the most?
I honestly have no clue. I haven’t worked on any personal projects in a long time and have been stagnating as far as my personal exploration into different areas go.
I have a mental wishlist of areas I want to explore though. This wishlist includes building a personal website, app development, dabbling in Web3 just to get a tiny sense of what it is about, as well as playing around with AI or ML.
What would you say then are your dreams and aspirations with your major?
I imagine myself graduating and becoming a generic software engineer and probably sticking with it for a while — maybe until I get to senior level. I don’t imagine myself becoming staff, partner, etc., for the sole reason of my current hope of doing something else.
I currently can’t say with certainty that software engineering will be my “forever thing” 20 or 30 years from now. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying my hand at building a startup or maybe finding something else that I can enjoy far into the future.
Those are all great points! As for your internships though, I noticed how you got an internship at one of the FAANG companies.
How’d you do it? Do you have any advice for other individuals who also want to make their mark at these companies?
I have been manifesting internships since my freshman year.
General advice would be to really just apply, apply, apply. In both my freshman and sophomore years, I applied to approximately 250 positions. I rarely heard back in freshman year and stepped up my resume game as a sophomore by doing the following:
- I worked on some personal projects
- Started my resume from scratch and reformatted everything in LaTeX and got 5+ opinions on it
This was when I started hearing back and getting online assessments. I stumbled again though because I hadn’t been LeetCoding; I didn’t do well on many of my HackerRanks and CodeVues during Fall 2020 and took a long break to basically hype myself up and get back in the game.
I couldn’t have done it without a support group and encouragement from my friends over that winter break, but I resumed applying after winter break ended and began choosing specific “target” companies and internships and working through LeetCode questions that are often asked by specific companies for intern positions.
My advice then is to keep your eyes on the prize and get really familiar with the process. The more familiar you are, the more prepared, confident, and flexible you will be for the application and recruitment process. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a break for however long you need. For me, it was nearly two months. Talk to friends, talk to family, talk to ACM people, and touch some grass to realize that your identity isn’t dependent on getting an offer.
Lastly, wise words from a friend, “Manifest it.” — JP. All it takes is one offer!
Let’s talk about your life a bit…
What do you like to do outside of CS?
I spend insane amounts of time on Spotify to block out anxiety and other icky feelings that creep in when I’m alone and in silence for too long…
- 340k minutes on Spotify in 2020, 248k minutes on Spotify in 2021
I’ve also been trying to get back into reading for enjoyment. I lost interest in reading after being forced to read throughout English classes in high school.
- I’ve low-key enjoyed Nectar in a Sieve, Things Fall Apart, Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and my controversial opinion of the century — Old Man and the Sea.
That’s a crazy amount of minutes haha! Other than that, do you happen to have a part-time job as well?
It’s more of a volunteering position, but I’ve been on and off helping a high school friend with a non-profit initiative that provides science kits to kids who attend school in underserved and under-resourced school districts in South Orange County.
As for college, do you have any favorite spots or hidden gems you found on or off campus?
- My bed in my apartment. 🥰
- Home. In Foothill Ranch.
- My bed at home. In Foothill Ranch.
How about your favorite place to work or study on campus?
If I’m not in my room being productive, chances are you can find me “making friends with the Orbach ants” doing work in Orbach library.
Being that it’s January, do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?
I had a laundry list…I’ll rattle some off:
- LeetCode daily (failed on January 1st, 2022),
- Eat healthier (failed on January 1st, 2022 — after hot pot for dinner),
- Exercise daily (failed on January 1st, 2022 — after I stayed in for a full day and walked a whopping 925 steps…)
One friend told me that it’s less emotionally taxing to roll with a resolution of, “Have greater discipline,” as opposed to feeling guilt and failure when I break a resolution, so I’ve been going with that instead and doing a mediocre job of having discipline.
Let’s do some rapid fire questions now…
What’s your favorite color?
I like all shades of blue! I have mild red-green colorblindness (😎 ← what I would look like in EnChroma glasses), so I’m not sure if the reds and greens I see are comparable to what everyone else experiences.
Do you have a secret talent?
To a degree, I have hyper-mobility so my arms are bent slightly beyond 180 degrees when I extend them and my thumbs can bend straight back and touch my forearm.
I ALWAYS struggle to pick a favorite song. Here’s a list some of my all-time favorites:
- “Cough Syrup”
- “You + I”
- “Heat of the Summer”
- “Superposition” — Young the Giant
- “Rest of the Best” — Micky James
- “Far Away” — UTAH
- “Malibu 1992” — COIN
- “Nothing’s the Same” — Jeremy Zucker
I haven’t updated this playlist in a while, but it’s one song from each of my favorite artists.
I’m one of those people who kinda are just like huh that last movie I watched was good. That’s my favorite movie.
In order of recency, I’ve watched Encanto, Eternals, No Way Home. They’re all good I guess.
Favorite TV show?
Gotta say my favorite TV show is Avatar: The Last Airbender. It hits everything I’d want in a show.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My dad graduated high school early, graduated undergrad early, and got a PhD in plasma physics…early.
He continues to grow on a daily basis from picking up MatLab and Python on the fly (after reading the infamous Introduction to Algorithms [Third Edition] book and O’Reilly books for enjoyment), playing with Arduinos and bread boards, and you know, researching and developing fusion reactor technology at a startup.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t be so cringe.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
If I could convince all my friends to go with me, Iceland. Iceland is just so beautiful.
What time of day are you must productive?
Crackhead hours (basically after midnight) which is unfortunate because I also tend to make myself go to bed around then.
What is one food that you would never give up?
I would be a shell of myself without ice cream.
How do you deal with stress?
Any tips with regards to time management?
Use Google Calendar religiously!!! I have reminders for classes, assignments, and other activities synced to all my devices thanks to Google Calendar.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
To date, “Live life without regrets.”
However, I would hate to stagnate and never heard advice better or more profound than that.
What’s your favorite quote?
Running Elasticsearch on my brain for favorite quotes. Might take a few centuries for me to get back to you on that.
If you were not doing CS, what would you be doing instead?
Medicine! People might be wondering why I didn’t go with a computing adjacent field, and my answer would be that CS feels like a happy compromise in terms of math and theoretical knowledge required and it also gives me the most options out of college — so CS or bust.
CE (Computer Engineering) and EE (Electrical Engineering) have way too much physics for me and so that leads me to medicine.
Do you have any big pet peeves?
Stack overflow — like I have so many pet peeves that the stack overflowed, although one of my pet peeves is how toxic Stack Overflow culture is.
- Mark as duplicated by 10XUNICORNENGINEER at Jan 25 ‘22.
- This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully…
Do you have any final thoughts for readers?
If you’re still reading, thanks for keeping up with my frazzled stream of consciousness!
I’ve been cutting down on my social media presence as another part of my 2022 resolutions, so hit me up on LinkedIn if you’d like here.