I joined Facebook in January 2017 as a Rotational Software Engineer. You might wonder what a Rotational Software Engineer is. A Rotational Software Engineer, as its name shows, rotates two teams in a year. You can check our official page for how the program works: Facebook’s Rotational Engineering Program. Business Insider has an article about the awesome colleague Candace Zhu’s journey: Facebook rejected her application the first time — now she’s part of a new initiative on how Facebook can step up its hiring practices .

I, along with some of my cohorts, got featured on the Facebook Engineering blog when we were half way through of our 1 year program: Accelerating growth through Facebook’s Rotational Engineering Program. As I approached the end of my one-year term, I spoke on the phone with candidates who received offers from the program to demystify the program through my experience.

From left: Lucy Barron, Angel Gomez, Brian Hsu. Feature in the Facebook Engineering Blog Post.
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I gave a speech at SolarCity Toastmasters today. Here is my speech transcript.

Steve Jobs once said, “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” Marc Andressen has a famous article, “Why Software Is Eating The World,” about how software is automating all kinds of routine jobs, and coding is becoming a digital literacy. Therefore today, I want to tell you why you should learn how to code and where to start.

There are three main benefits I think coding can bring you. First is job opportunities; second is the fun to create your own projects; third is the super power in the future.

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Do you know how to pronounce Parenteau? Evelyn explains how to pronounce her last name. If you want to know how to pronounce her name correctly, listen to this episode. Her last name was popular in France (not sure about the current status). If you know French, maybe you already got it right. 

Evelyn is a full stack engineer. She works on the front end, back end, embedded, Linux kernel, drivers, CPU design, and board design. Basically she can work from the front end to the parts reaching the manufacturing materials.

Evelyn speaks highly of the computer systems engineering major she took in college. She learned electricity, circuit, transistor, and also computer science fundamental, different languages, and software engineering practices. She feels that she got the best parts from electrical engineering and computer science training.

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Chris Chang is a little offended for not being interviewed as the first guest of Passage to Silicon Valley. ? Chris is a QA engineer (his official title is Quality Ensurance Specialist) in the Embedded Team at SolarCity. Chris studied Economy in college. He took only one CS class (which is amazing!) in his undergraduate. He happened to have a chance to work as an engineer after college and he then settled for that career. He likes his current job because otherwise he would need to dress up all the time (when I interviewed him, he was wearing a T-shrt, khakis, and basketball shoes).

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Aman is a data scientist at SolarCity. In this episode, she talks about her journey in the US. She was an international student coming from Punjab, India, and she finished her master and phD studies at UC San Diego and UC Merced. Currently, she’s working in the Silicon Valley as a data scientist.She explains how data scientists work. She uses mostly Python and Matlab to help her process data. One good advantage of Matlab is that it’s simple and can help you test data quickly. The down side is that it’s very expensive and not open sourced.

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Michael Gao is a Software Engineer at SolarCity. In this episode, Michael talks about his decision to return to the Bay Area after graduating from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Michael started out as an environmental engineer, researching hurricane induced power outages but later became a software engineer. To help contribute to his research group’s model, he learned R programming, and eventually learned other software tools to explore ways to the model faster and more accurate.

He remains curious in learning. He sees programming as a tool, and the application is where his passion derives from. He feels it’s quite fortunate and a coincidence for him to become a software engineer. He talked about how he got the job at SolarCity by learning about the opportunity at a conference. Michael compared the differences between working as *a contractor within an applied science program* at NASA and SolarCity.

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For the second interview, I’m happy to invite Henry Ng, a software engineer at SolarCity. 吳奉全  is Henry’s Chinese name (if you are wondering). He can speak Mandarin and Cantonese (and English of course).

We chatted about Henry’s decision to move to the Bay area from Canada, and about the differences he’s found between San Francisco and other parts of the world. He thinks people in SF are more forward thinking. People in SF believe they can change the world and improve society. He talks about how Canadians fit into the Silicon Valley. Visa issues and housing conditions are big concerns to almost every immigrant here.

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For the first interview, I’m honored to interview Jordan Olthoff. In this episode, we learn that Jordan grew up in San Diego and came to the Bay area 6 years ago. He studied psychology in college and has pharmaceutical research experience. He recently started his career as a Software Engineer at SolarCity. We had an interesting discussion about how psychology might influence his thinking and help him in developing software. 

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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. 

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