Memphis is a stand-in for wherever you are right now. What it really means is how I got here.

(Charlie Skinner – The Newsroom)

2018 is probably the fastest year I have experienced in my life so far. I am not sure if that could be said for the past 24 years that I have lived and experienced, but this year definitely felt like it flew past. I recently finished the entire 3 seasons of The Newsroom on Amazon Prime. The series ended with this song by Tom T. Hall, and I thought it would make a perfect title for my end of the year post. I’ll reflect a little bit on how I got here.

I finished up the final semester of my Computer Science education this year, yet I still feel hungry for more classes, more projects, and more learning opportunities. (Note how exams are not part of what I’m hungry for because I absolutely hate them.) However I do not regret any of the decisions for my education that I have made in the past 4 years, because all of it played a part in molding me into the person I am today. These are the events in chronological order that pointed my growth towards the right direction:

  1. Contributing to an open-source project (NUSMods) during my freshman winter break
  2. Internship at a fast growing startup (Shopback) during my freshman summer break
  3. Taking a ridiculously time-consuming project based class in my second year (CS3216)
  4. Going on a year long internship program a semester earlier than my peers (NOC)
  5. Enroll in a tough-as-hell Machine Learning class (CS229) at Stanford while on internship
  6. Overload a semester with 6 classes, 5 of which are project-based, with the deadlines all lined up in the same week
  7. Choose a final year thesis project in a field that I have absolutely zero experience in (FPGAs and hardware)
  8. Also I didn’t really need to do a final year thesis project, it was purely optional
  9. Enroll in another ridiculously difficult AI class at NUS (CS4246) while being tied down with working on my thesis
  10. Graduate with two focus areas, some special programs, and an extra 18 modular credits worth of classes

After reading all these decisions I have made, it feels like every decision made had to be crazier than the last. Every one of these decisions made has taught me some valuable lessons, be it technical lessons or personal lessons. The lessons learnt in the past 4 years laid out my foundation for everything I do: my technical abilities, my work ethic, my perspective on problems, my daily routine. This is what I gained from my university education, it was way more than the lectures and tutorials, it equipped me with the skills to navigate through the chaos of work and life.

I used  to live by this slogan through my undergraduate life…

ABC – Always Be Coding.

Me (or some blog post, but I took it very seriously)

Forget that. In the grand scheme of things, coding is probably the easiest task of all now. I have come to sudden realization being a Software Engineer is about finding technical solutions to tough problems. (No shit) But not all problems should be solved with a technical solution, and we need to weigh in our thoughts on that. If all I do every day was to walk in with a smile and start implementing solutions to whatever problems that gets thrown on my desk with code, that doesn’t make me any kind of engineer, it makes me a code monkey. So screw off slogan, thanks for nothing. I’ll have to find a new one now.

(But in all honesty, the slogan did help me improve my programming abilities, which we can all agree is intangible for a software engineer. I might have taken it out of context here.)

So here we are now, in “Memphis”. I am a Software Engineer, working on platform product development for an email intelligence company, Edison. I’d love to see what chaos and challenges 2019 has for me, and how I’ll apply what I have learnt to navigate through them.

Happy holidays!