Join LinkedIn Learning Developer Instructor for an in-depth discussion in this video Chiu-Ki Chan, part of Career Clinic: Developer Insights.
- What brought me into this industry, the very beginning, I was eight, I think, what happened was that my mom, she works for a company that was upgrading their computers. She brought one home and then she enrolled me into a computer course in the community center. What she thought was that I was going to be learning how to use a mouse and how to type, that kind of stuff, but it was a programming course and I loved it. I absolutely loved it. As a kid, I don't really have a lot of say in how things get done.
They always tell me do this, do that. But with the computer, I can tell it, print this, do this, do that, and it will obey me. I was very excited about that and of course, you know if you make a mistake, then it will just follow your instructions as well. But that kind of gave me a first taste of how it's like to program and how is it like to convert some thoughts in my head into a thing that will work as I like it to. So that was really cool. That kind of got me into interesting into computers and I started going to school.
I got a degree in computer science and then got a job doing programming. The biggest challenge I would say, is that work is different from school. Now that I look back, it shouldn't be surprising, but when I first graduated, I'm used to the fact that in school, you study and then you got an exam and then people know whether you're doing a good job, depending on what grade you get. At work, it's not like that. At work, you can't just work hard and then automatically people know that you are doing a good work.
You have to spend a lot of time and thinking of how do you make sure that people know what you do, how difficult it was, and then once you have a good outcome, tell everybody about it. That wasn't obvious at all. I was just hands down work, work, work, work and then maybe the performance review cycle come along and people will be like, "Oh, okay, I guess she was decent." I said what do you mean by decent? I put in so much effort in it. But it was all in my head, like, I didn't explain to people that it was a difficult problem.
All I did was, I spend the extra hour to make it work, to deliver on deadline. But to an outsider, maybe they just thought that was easy and that's why I delivered on time. It was a hard lesson to learn but since then, I've been really trying to get things out of my head and communicate more. If I hit a roadblock, I will explain that look, initially we thought it will be just like this, but then this, this, this happened so I'm going to need to introduce some other libraries or things like that.
Just kind of make sure that people know what I'm doing and then, therefore, can appreciate my work. I have a lot of favorite projects, but I think one of the ones I love to tell people is FitCat. FitCat is an Android Wear watch face. What that means is that it's a smartwatch, so you wear it on your wrist and then it's actually a pedometer. So FitCat, even though it's called FitCat, actually starts off a fat cat. Every day, in the beginning of the day, you have walked zero steps and the cat is fat and sleeping.
Then as you walk more, it gets a little bit more active so maybe it will start working on the computer, or it will do other things as you walk even more steps. So once you walk like thousands of steps, it will start playing the guitar and then get really active and you can notice that he got slim. He'll go surfing, he'll go hiking or fencing, it's just a really fun way to get people more active. I have had people tell me that they were just like, "Just a little bit more," and they were just getting really excited about walking, really, so that has been really fun.
One best thing I think, is the community. Being in a community of developers and supporting each other is very important. The way I've done that is sharing my experience. After I became a freelancer, what I did was I decided that essentially I was a planned search (mumbles). I want people, my potential clients, if they search for my name, they see that I know android and they can trust me in building their app. So I started blogging a lot, and I would speak at conferences, share what I know about android.
That really propelled my career into a level that I didn't think will get me there. What happened is that people now see me as an expert, and I'm not necessarily like know everything and I can give you answers to everything, but at least people have seen me enough explaining different concepts, that they have confidence that I know how to solve a problem even if I start from very little bit. That has been a really, really helpful skill so I try to encourage others to do the same.