#40 - Cuc Doan (part 2)

Cuc Doan - Software Engineer, former Google Intern

I backed to college when my son went to kindergarten (part 2)

Read the part 1 at: https://techiestory.net/post/39-cuc-doan-1

Bellevue College was my first choice because of its easy entrance. I only had to take a Math and English exam to see which classes fit me most. Math was no problem to me, but English did. I started with a Pre-class first, which didn’t count on the transcript. Okay, no matter what it was, I would go step by step. It seemed not easy anymore when my English skills were terrible with “Hello, how are you? I am fine, thank you! And you?”. However, I overcame lots of struggles to be here; I couldn’t give up! Then in every class, I was the earliest person and sat at the front desk, recording all the lessons to listen to again at home. I lived like I had nothing to lose, asking the lecturers everything I didn’t understand, even though my classmates seemed a little bit uncomfortable with that.

Fortunately, almost the lecturers supported me a lot. They were always patient with my stupid questions as well as encouraged me to ask more. At home, I tried to complete all the exercises, not caring whether they were counted for score. One day, I realized I understood what the lecturers said in the class, and my score was the highest. I dealt with my inferiority!

Not to waste money, I tried to pass all the exams, whether I liked studying them or not. About the tuition fee, I submitted for financial aid not to be detracted by others. This turned into my huge motivation. However, if you’re sickening about any subjects, just try not to fail them, then focus on your major. This is the big difference between university and boot camp. Bootcamp will only teach what you need to know to be workable.

After that, I started to do leetcode to apply for an internship. I turned this into a habit, with 3-4 code challenges every day. Sometimes, I had to do a task many times just to know why it was. If you hoped into my house during that period, you could see I coded while crying, together with my son. Ohh, god, how hard coding is!

After the first year at Bellevue College, I began to apply for an internship. Every company denied my application, but Amazon. There was a 60 minutes on-site interview, splitted into two sections: the first 20 minutes for behavior and the left for coding.

  • Behavior: (1) Tell me about yourself. (2) Tell me about a time you have to resolve conflict with your colleagues? (3) What did you do when you missed a deadline.
  • Coding: (1) Design a class that can validate if a string is correct HTML format. (2) Convert a string into a number.

Of course, I failed! I felt sad for several days, then boosted my spirit to learn leetcode again. That year (2020), still no companies called me for an interview.

2021’s summer, after finishing the course at Bellevue College, I successfully transferred to the University of Washington and got many interview invitations as well.

  • Expedia: Accepted offer (for summer 2022): Expedia had three rounds: Coding, Behaviour, and Design. Each round lasted for an hour. I didn’t recall what they asked for in coding and behavior. About Design round, they asked: (1) Design a map for tourist information (2) Extend the question for the previous one, kind of easy.
  • Google: Accepted offered (for winter 2021): Two coding questions were about the tree.
  • Nordstrom: I were confident with my ability in both Coding and Behaviour, but they haven’t announced the result until now :))) I just remembered there was a “convert number into sentence” task in the Coding round. Ex: 1234 -> One thousand two hundreds thirty four.

I finished Google internship this April. My friends usually apply for summer internships, so the winter season becomes my advantage. Now I am back at the university, with many difficult major subjects. But I still sit at the front desk and ask the lecturer a thousand questions.

Through my journey, I’d like to encourage women with the same or even in a more challenging situation can be more confident with what they want to do. I believe all efforts will be rewarded equally. Fighting, we only live once!

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