“I dropped out halfway through college and finished in six years. I entered tech without an internship or employment experience.”
Chau Tran - Admin at Angular Vietnam & Senior Engineer at Nx.dev
I came to America at the age of 19, in 2010, with my family through immigration. I had no clear goals or direction, and my English was not proficient. I chose Computer Science as my major without knowing what it entailed, simply because I loved tinkering with computers. After studying for a year and a half, I encountered a Physics Engineering course with an incomprehensible professor. Being timid, I didn’t dare to ask questions, so I dropped the course, thinking I couldn’t handle it. I took a break from school and worked odd jobs to earn a living. I delivered newspapers and worked in warehouse and logistics for a pharmaceutical company. After about a year, the university introduced a new major called Information Systems, so I enrolled and returned to school.
But it wasn’t until my last course that I truly connected with tech and started coding, the System Design class. I had to work in a group with 5-6 classmates and find a business that was running everything manually using Excel, fax machines, and phone calls. Then we had to identify the pain points of that business and build a system that could automate and optimize their work. I knew nothing about coding, so I took on tasks related to documentation. Among the team members, only Mohamed (Mo) had coding skills, so our project progress was quite slow. I told Mo, “I don’t know how to code, but if there’s anything I can assist you with, I will. I’m not afraid to learn.” Throughout that course, Mo and I spent nearly 200 hours together in the school’s lab, exploring code and learning the MEAN Stack - a popular tech stack at the time. Our team chose this stack for our project. It was then that I started to grasp coding, and I loved the feeling of creating something that could run with my own hands, even though I had started with no knowledge at all.
In the middle of my studies, I dropped out of university and it took me 6 years to finally graduate. No internships, no practical experience, and I had just started coding in my last year. Finding my first job was a real challenge. During my job search, I realized my lack of experience, so I decided to teach myself coding. I spent 15-16 hours a day on the computer for 3 months. I sent out over 150 resumes, received responses from 5-6 companies, got only one interview, and still ended up unemployed. It was discouraging, and at times, I thought about giving up and returning to my previous job in the pharmaceutical industry.
Then, I remembered Mo, a friend of mine. I reached out to him and asked where he was working. He referred me to his company, ArchitectNow, which became my first workplace. Initially, I worked on a contract basis, hourly. From October 2017 to January 2018, I was finally offered a full-time position as a permanent employee. It was a memorable journey!
Reflecting on my career path, I had no direction, no mentoring, just test and learn, switching paths, and trying something new. I understand the feeling of uncertainty and lack of direction in this field, and that’s why I want to share my experiences and skills with other younger developers.
When I discovered Angular Vietnam, the group had already been active for around a year. As a newcomer to the industry, I wanted to find a community to share and seek advice, so I joined Angular Vietnam. Throughout my involvement, I asked many questions and revisited my own questions to update my strategies. I didn’t write lengthy blog posts about “what is Angular” or “what is this feature.” Instead, I delved into specific features that were not easily found or discussed in the documentation and shared them with the community. I noticed that developers preferred these types of in-depth articles over superficial ones with general definitions. After actively participating for some time, I was invited by Mr. Tiệp, the sole admin at the time, to become a Moderator and eventually became the second Admin of the group in 2018.
I also became a mentor in the Angular group, and I enjoy interacting with everyone. Coming from a non-technical background in the IT industry without any specific goals in the US, I now have a comfortable and stable life here. Every week, I dedicate 30 minutes to provide one-on-one mentoring for those who need it. If you need any assistance or advice regarding tech career or Angular, you can book a session with me here: https://calendly.com/nartc/ama-w-chau