Tell us about your journey.
I came to the United States in September 2016. I spent a month in D.C. with my family before coming to California to look at my school’s location and to meet the people I was going to stay with. My course started in October. I studied English for 6 months.
What is program of study here?
I was going to do Internet Programming and Development first, but after I talked to Daniel Heckmyer (campus manager with EC Higher Education), he suggested I change my certificate to Software Engineering and Quality. It was more efficient for me than Internet Programming and Development because I already knew most of the classes in that program.
What was your favorite class?
Data Structures and Algorithms, because it was so hard. It was challenging. It was my favorite because I like challenges, I like problems, I like puzzles and I like to solve them. The problems in that class were from the real world. For example, interview questions from Apple, or Google, or Facebook.
Have you been able to use that knowledge in interviews?
I was interviewed by Facebook and Google while I was taking that class. I got an email from Facebook in April 2017. They found me on LinkedIn so they asked me, like, are you able to consider a position as software engineer? I said yes, sure, why not. So we arranged a phone interview. They ask you about your personality, your goals in life, what are your plans, why would you work with us. I mentioned some projects I had done. The interviewer was impressed. Like, I had developed a robotic arm. So she arranged a date for the next interview. I studied for a month. At the interview, I solved the problem which was so similar to the questions we were seeing in the class. I asked my instructor for advice too. He joked and said, “actually you should have finished your class first if you want to pass that.” I solved the problem but it wasn’t enough in the time. Maybe they didn’t like my approach to the question – you know, it could be different. But that was the first interview! In my life! I haven’t been interviewed before. First time, Facebook, pretty good, right?
Did you get support from other people too?
I said to Daniel, I will be interviewing with Facebook. He said, “have you prepared questions to ask them?” So we went over the questions I had prepared and he gave me good advice. Actually, they were pretty impressed with my questions, too.
You’re doing an internship right now.
Yes. The company’s name is BCL technologies and the interview phase was actually exactly the same as at Facebook. I was interviewed three times. But with my experience from Facebook, I was able to react really well. For example, in the technical interview, the link they gave me was down, so I solved the problem by talking. The third round was a lunch to get to know each other. We only talked about the job for about two minutes. Then we talked about theater, movies, schools, education, other stuff.
What do you do at BCL Technologies?
The details are confidential. But I can really bring knowledge I have gained from working on personal projects into this.
Do you think that the English classes helped you prepare for the internship or certificate program?
My English level was so low when I first came. I had learned English from games. The best part about the classes here, was the Certificate and Internship preparation class: real English, working English, how to prepare for an interview, but also social language. That helped me prepare for interviews but also for meeting people at my office – we can chat in the kitchen, it’s so easy now to make new connections.
There are 4,000 universities for Bachelor or Master programs in the U.S. alone, plus Australia, Canada, New Zealand that attract international students. Do you feel like you have made a good choice in coming to UCSC Extension through partnership with EC Higher Education?
Yes, because of the education that I got. The instructors were from the real industry. They are experts in their professions, so they told us about real world problems, from the perspective of the big companies. Like I had an instructor from LinkedIn. That’s why I’m happy about the education.
What is something new you have learned?
Elevator pitch. A very short introduction of yourself or a product. It’s important to know the culture and to know how to adapt and to merge what you know into a real conversation.
What have you enjoyed about the UCSC Certificate program?
I met great people here, from other countries. I learned a lot from other cultures. Like, in English classes, I made Chinese friends, we still meet up at their homes to eat hotpot. I wasn’t able to use chopsticks, now I’m an expert. We went to San Diego together during Christmas. It was fun.
What do you enjoy about living in Silicon Valley?
I love the diversity. The weather, also. People are so open minded. They don’t mind what you’re doing as long as you’re not harming someone or something. These are things that make you want to live here.