Passage to Silicon Valley —001 Brian Hsu

Hello, everyone. This is Passage to Silicon Valley. Thanks for listening. I’m Brian Hsu. I currently live in the San Francisco Bay area. I’ve had this podcast idea for a while, and I’m really excited to finally bring it to light. The goal of this podcast is to learn from people who currently work in Silicon Valley and how they became who they are today. I hope through this this podcast, you and I can both become a better person, better software engineer, and fit in well in the United States. 

A little bit about myself. I grew up in Taiwan and came to United Sates in 2010 for graduate school. I studied Environmental Science at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. After graduating in 2012, I moved to Washington DC to intern at GreenPeace. I researched hazardous chemicals and analyzed EPA policies on chemical security. I also drafted and proofread documents to decision makers. It was an eye opening experience for me to work in one of the top NGOs in the world, I really appreciate the opportunity to see how NGO works. 

After GreenPeace, I joined the National Agricultural Library for an oilseed renewable fuel project. I supported deploying a Bioenergy Digital Commons to facilitate data computation, analysis, modeling, and visualization among 10+ federal agencies. 

The pivotal moment in National Agricultural Library period was…I didn’t know how to code, but I needed to analyze and process large amount of data. Therefore, I started to learn programming in late 2012. Luckily I found programming fascinating and wanted to do it full time. Therefore, I kept learning programming day and nights. Through books and through online courses. 

A few months later in 2013, I got my first Software Engineer job at a startup called Hook Mobile. Hook Mobile is a cloud messaging company in Virginia. It was a really exciting journey to join a start up, and experience the growth. I still remember how great it felt when Hook Mobile changed from losing money to breaking even, and from the time of breaking even to earning stable revenue. It was a really good experience to see how a start up grow and be part of it. 

In January 2015, I quit my job at Hook Mobile and moved to San Francisco. I loved my job at Hook Mobile, but I wanted to build a better foundation since I don’t have a computer science degree. 

I applied and attended Hack Reactor, an Advanced Software Engineering Immersive Program in downtown San Francisco. The three months was a great time to me. It felt like going back to school with clear idea of what my end goal was, which really helped me learn things well.

Every morning I woke up before 7, and went to Hack Reactor. The class ended at 8pm and I usually went home at 10pm. I have this similar busy schedule from Monday to Saturday for the entire 3 months.

I learned computer science algorithm and data structure. I absorbed all kinds of web development technologies and practiced through several cool projects by myself and with teammates.  I learned how to build software in a group with proper workflow. I met several great friends…and You will hear their stories in future interviews. 

After graduating from Hack Reactor, I joined Solarcity as a software engineer. SolarCity is a great company aiming to change the world into a better place. I admire our chairman Elon Musk, our CEO Lyndon Rive, and CTO  Pete Rive’s vision. I believe Solar energy plays a key role in solving global warming. And I’m happy to dedicate myself to make this happen. 

So you might wonder Why I’m doing this podcast?
The main reason is to learn from great people in the Silicon Valley. I’ve always wanted to be a better person. Recently, I discussed my career development and career goal with my mentor. We found that interviewing people can not only provide me with good ideas of how people succeed in the Silicon Valley, but also give me opportunities to improve my communication skills.

After a few weeks planning, I finally started recording today. I must say, IT IS really cool. I’ve listened to dozens of podcast, and I’m making my own right now! 

So, that’s the story of who I am and why I’m making the “Passage to Silicon Valley podcast.” I hope you can also learn from my stories and the following interviews. 

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