#68: Chau Tran

“Since having a baby, I’ve seen my wife cry more.”

Chau Tran - Admin at Angular Vietnam & Senior Engineer at Nx.dev

In May 2017, having just graduated from a university in the US, I returned to Vietnam for 2 months to sponsor my wife to come.

We knew each other since high school, but when I immigrated to the US with my family in 2010, we had to part ways. It was uncertain what the future held for us. Fast forward to 2013, during a visit back to Vietnam, fate brought us back together. It was like love at first sight, and we both realized that we still cared for each other deeply. So, we decided to give it another shot. We endured a long-distance relationship for 4 years until I sponsored my wife to join me in the US in 2017.

That was probably the most stressful period of my life. I had just graduated at the age of 26, no job, no savings, and I brought my wife over to this side without being able to provide for her. Back in Vietnam, my wife was a SAP consultant earning a good income, around 15 to 16 million VND at that time. But after coming to the US, she had to give up her promising career. I felt the weight of responsibility as a man, a husband.

I searched for a job tirelessly for months, but my resume wasn’t that strong. I took six years to finish my degree in Information Systems, had dropped out once, and had no internship or real-world experience. With such a non-traditional background, it was hard for any company to take a chance on me. During the job search, I spent 15 to 16 hours a day coding to improve my skills. I applied to over 150 job openings, got a few responses, only one company called for an interview, and I failed that too. By October 2017, I was at my lowest point, financially drained and jobless. I told my wife, “Maybe I should just go back to work at the pharmacy.” But she said something that stayed with me forever: “No, keep looking for a job. You don’t belong at the pharmacy or doing menial work. You are better than that.” Her words became a powerful motivation for me to keep going, to not give up. Even when I lost faith in myself, she still believed in me, and how could I quit when she had so much faith in me?

At that moment, I remembered Mohamed (Mo), my old friend from university, with whom I had worked on a project together. He learned that I was job hunting and kindly referred me to the company he was working for - ArchitectNow. I went through the interview process and finally got a job at a tech company, my first one at the age of 26, which felt quite late. Initially, I worked on a “contract to hire” basis, meaning I wasn’t a full-time employee right away. After three months, at the beginning of 2018, I was offered my first full-time job at ArchitectNow. Since then, my career has been on a stable path, and now I work for Nx.dev, a company specializing in open source.

Looking back, I owe my current situation to my wife, and I am incredibly grateful to her. From 2013 until now, we have spent 10 years together, and with each passing year, our love has grown deeper. I’ve witnessed the sacrifices my wife made - leaving her family, friends, and career behind to follow me to the US. Especially during the times of pregnancy and childbirth here, she had to manage everything mostly on her own, as we didn’t have the support of grandparents. I knew very little about taking care of children, so she had to handle almost everything. I admire her resilience and determination.

Since having our child, I’ve noticed that my wife cries more often and feels more vulnerable. Normally, she is cheerful, easy-going, and very caring towards me. However, our baby’s cries seem to trigger a different side of her, as if a switch is turned on, and she becomes a different person. When the baby cries, my wife cries too, and she easily gets irritated, which adds to my stress as well. Sometimes, I feel that talking to other women is more helpful for her than talking to me. Being in the US without extended family nearby, my wife often feels like she’s on her own. As our child grows older, things have gotten better. Now that our child can speak, he can communicate his needs to us. Our little one has become the source of laughter in our family, especially during potty training, which can be quite funny.

Sometimes, I feel guilty towards my wife and child. I have a very chill personality, but once I start doing something, I tend to stay at my desk until it’s completed before leaving. If I encounter a difficult bug after promising my wife and child that I’d take them to the park after finishing a task, I get stressed and feel like I’ve let them down. It becomes a dilemma between leaving work unfinished and taking them to the park. In the end, I choose to finish the work first before taking them out, but my wife is still understanding and not angry with me. I know she feels sad. My only solution is to work late into the night to complete the task and then make up for the time spent with them the next day.

When people ask me about work-life balance in the tech industry, I tell them it’s already challenging, and having a family makes it even more so. Balancing work and family responsibilities is impossible 😀

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