H e may only be twenty-two years old, but Duong Nguyen has already journeyed across the world– making him the perfect person to lay the frameworks for Campuswire’s user journeys. The Vietnamese expat & Wharton School alum stepped away from his computer screen to discuss U.Penn, YouTube, and Campuswire v3.
Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Duong. It’s spelled with a ‘D’ but pronounced with a ‘Z’, like “Zu-ong”.
What were you doing before Campuswire?
I’m twenty-two, so I actually just graduated from U.Penn about… two, three months ago now. While I was there, I studied Business Analytics and minored in Computer Science. I also did a lot of internships — at start-ups, at big companies — then started here at Campuswire two months ago
How long have you lived in New York?
I’m originally from Hanoi, Vietnam, but came to America for university four years ago. I’ve only been in New York City for about three months, but I’ve been up here a bunch of times before. U.Penn is only about two hours away, so last year I’d come up almost every week to see friends.
What do you think of living here?
I love New York City. I used to work in the Bay Area– although it was a city, I much prefer New York. There’s so much going on. You meet more people. Things are closer together– you don’t have to take the train for two hours to get around, or Uber anywhere. The subways are really convenient.
Outside of work, what else are you interested in?
I recently — as in, within the past year or so — got into music production. I’ve been making beats, mainly instrumental things. I make music that you can classify as ‘lofi hip hop radio — beats to relax/study to’. Before that, I played guitar for 10 years. I’ve also done photography and videography in the past.
Now onto the nitty-gritty questions. If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be?
Peanut butter and marshmallow.
Because it’s my favorite thing to order at Van Leeuwen.
Interesting. What was your favorite subject in middle school?
And how many cups of coffee do you drink a day?
One and a half. I always overestimate myself– I always get two, then never finish the second one.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
A beach town in Vietnam called Hội An. It’s very tourist-y, but it’s beautiful and one of the most calming places I’ve ever been to. I feel at home when I’m there.
What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep and why?
At one point last year I went twenty-four hours. That was my first all-nighter of college, actually. We had to build a clone of Facebook for a CS class’ final project. Obviously, our team was slacking until the last day, so we all pulled an all-nighter to finish it.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
Probably… a koala. They seem very comfortable in trees. Just very cozy all of the time.
Do you collect anything?
I collect mechanical computer keyboards. Definitely one of the weirder things to collect.
What do you do with them?
I have like six of them, and only one computer, so the rest of them are on display. It’s strange to explain to people who come into my room why I have so many keyboards.
“It’s strange to explain to people who come into my room why I have so many keyboards.”
What’s your pet peeve?
The misalignment of things. When things aren’t lined up straight, or are tilted. I’m maybe partially OCD, but not really.
That makes sense, being an engineer. If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably either Forrest Gump or Fight Club. Mainly because those are long movies, so you wouldn’t get bored of them as easily.
What was your first job?
My first job was back in high school– I was a Youtuber.
Really! What was your content?
I did guitar covers for two or three years. I got paid for it and everything.
So you just started at Campuswire a few months ago?
Yeah, I’ve been here for about a month and a half now.
What are some of your day-to-day responsibilities?
So for Campuswire’s product– there’s Tade, who is basically in charge of the product. Then there are three other people who do the actual coding. And then there’s me– I’m somewhere in between.
My day-to-day involved a lot of wire-framing and designing new features for the product. About 60% — 70% of my time is spent coming up with new flows and experiences that we want to add to make Campuswire’s experience more seamless for the user. The other time is spent writing specifications and quality checking the current product, then talking to the engineers to make sure that everything has been pushed out.
So, it’s a mix of things: designing, coming up with flows, writing out specifications, talking to people– yeah.
What has your favorite part been so far?
I think the overall cycle. I’m very happy that my role isn’t just one thing– it’s very flexible, depending on what is needed by the team. One day I could spend the whole day building a wireframe for a new feature, and the next I day I might look at the product and write a list of things to fix, or things to add to improve the user experience. The flexibility of it is what I love the most.
What has been the biggest challenge since starting?
Well this is my first month, so it’s been learning the workflow that we use here at Campuswire. There are certain flows that you need to go through to make sure that things get shipped. I’ve had to learn how to integrate my work style into everyone’s work flow. Everything else that is challenging is technical, but you learn as you go.
“I think we have a kickass product.”
Was there ever a time where, as a student, you wished you’d had Campuswire?
Oh yeah. All the STEM courses at U.Penn use Piazza, which is just not the best product. But outside of STEM, none of my other classes used any kind of discussion board. So when you have a problem, and you’re stuck, you’re just kind of like… “crap”.
You could go to office hours, which I often couldn’t attend because they were scheduled during my other classes, or you can just ask friends for help. Campuswire would have streamlined that process, so I wish I’d had it during that time.
What’s something you didn’t expect about your job/the company?
I expected the overall role to be pretty much exactly what it has turned out to be. Within my role, there are new problems that pop up each day. I don’t really think of them as being unexpected, just things that you have to fix– just the small details. But fixing small details was always something I expected to do.
What are you most excited about for the future of Campuswire?
The product. I think we have a kickass product. There are a lot of things that we’re building for V3 that are really cool, and that I think will make Campuswire so much better than other products on the market.
Once we get V3 out — which should be at some point before the new school year — there will be so many opportunities to take advantage of, and extensions to build.
I’m excited to see the platform grow and expand. ●
Campuswire is a course communication system built with the specific needs of professors and students in mind. Get to know the rest of our team through our Meet the Campuswire Team series, or by sending us a message on campuswire.com.