This is my first non data-vis blog post! I’ve spent a good part of this past fall semester reflecting on things, so here are some thoughts on the current state of my life.
Why am I writing this post?
Earlier this year, I had a really basic personal site with no blog. I completely overhauled that and created this version of my personal website with Jekyll at the end of the summer. At the time, I was really inspired by this idea of writing a bunch of flashy data vis posts. I’m a huge fan of The Upshot and FiveThirtyEight, so I had this dream of starting a blog, something like a low-budget, beginner version of The Upshot. I loved the idea of exploring various interesting concepts by writing blog posts with simple analyses and visualizations. So, this blog was created.
I was also motivated by a desire to write more and (hopefully) improve my writing. I haven’t taken any reading or writing intensive classes during college, and I want to feel more comfortable and confident in my communication skills. Additionally, I’d like to keep a written record of me and my thoughts, which is primarily why I’m writing this post.
2017 Life Updates
During my second semester (spring 2016) at Georgia Tech, I spent a while thinking about switching majors from industrial engineering to computer science. I ultimately decided not to switch. This year, I realized that was most likely the wrong choice. At some point, probably while I was taking CS 1332 (Data Structures) and CS 2110 (Computer Organization), I became aware that I was having a lot of fun learning about CS related concepts. I think I was hoping that industrial engineering would be a combination of the theory and modeling/simulation threads in Georgia Tech’s computer science curriculum. While industrial engineeering does have some conceptual overlap with those areas, I wish my major classes had a greater focus either on cool theoretical aspects (theory) or on computational applications of concepts (modeling/simulation).
But, even though I feel a bit out of place in my major, I made some significant progress in terms of my technical knowledge. This was probably the first year I really programmed. I took core CS classes and did well. I joined the HackGT tech team and contributed to our checkin web app (written in TypeScript, which I had never heard of before this year). I wrote a ridiculous amount of D3 code for my data vis project. I learned about data warehousing and wrote a bunch of Python at my internship over the summer. I never imagined doing any of these things when I started college, but I am so happy with how this aspect of my life is going.
All of this led to me applying almost exclusively for software/data engineering internships this fall. I got a lot of skeptical comments about not being a CS major, but my internship search went surprisingly well! For the first time, I felt like recruiters actually took me seriously instead of using my resume as a mousepad or something. Even technical interviews (which I had never done before this semester) and networking sessions weren’t so intimidating anymore. I applied to around 40 companies, and I was somewhere in the coding challenge/interview process with roughly half of them; I ended up accepting an offer I was happy with in mid-October.
Handling everything was very overwhelming and stressful at times. Fall 2017 was by far my hardest semester yet. I actually started this semester with the intention of dropping all of my extracurricular activities at the end of the semester. At the busiest point, I was taking 18 credit hours (ended up dropping one class later on), interviewing/applying for internships, pushing code in preparation for HackGT 4, and handling responsibilities as a TA for CS 2110. I tend to get stressed out fairly easily (I’d like to think I handle it well, though), and that was especially true this semester. However, by the end of the semester, all of the things I had been worried out ended up working out well. I have a little more faith in my ability to take on stressful situations now. Furthermore, being a 2110 TA and being on the HackGT tech team ended up being incredibly meaningful, rewarding experiences – both of these commitments contributed to a sense of community and purpose that I feel was lacking from my college experience before. So, here I am, at the end of the semester, excited about continuing my involvement in both of those.
This year was also a year of uncertainty. I had always been planning to graduate early, but it never seemed so close until now. I’ll be graduating in December 2018, which means I have two semesters left, and it just doesn’t feel like enough time. I don’t want to leave college regretting not switching majors (oops) or not taking a class taught by some cool professor or not traveling to enough places or really anything else. For a good part of 2016, my mentality was to get by and get out of college as soon as possible. Now, I’m really starting to appreciate my time and experiences at Georgia Tech – this shift in attitude was pretty recent and largely influenced by this hectic, but rewarding, past fall semester. I fully intend on making the most out of my two semesters left.
Some other miscellaneous updates:
- I spent this summer living in Boston and loved it. Boston might be my ideal city to live in when I’m older.
- I listened to 85,000 minutes of music on Spotify this year – lots of Anderson .Paak and Frank Ocean. My Spotify subscription has really been worth it.
- I read a couple of books this year:
- Men Explain Things To Me - Rebecca Solnit
- Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg
- Flash Boys - Michael Lewis
- Norweigan Wood - Haruki Murakami
- The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde
- I barely read the news when during the busiest part of the fall semester, and I realized that I really missed reading the New York Times, the Atlantic, and FiveThirtyEight.
- I just booked my flight to San Francisco in February! Some of my favorite memories from college involve living in or visiting new places, so I want to make travel a priority for 2018. So far, I’ll definitely be visiting:
- San Francisco
- Atlanta (of course)
- This year, I pretty much only read at the very beginning and very end of the year (winter break of sophomore year and winter break of junior year). In 2018, I want to be more consistent about reading, especially because I really enjoy it. Some books I want to read:
- The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - Milan Kundera
- Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
- We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- I’m trying to run a half marathon in March. I think I’ve tried this exercise thing every semester of college. Fall 2017 was actually my most successful – I ran 4 times a week from August until the middle of October. Hopefully signing up for the half marathon will motivate me this semester.
- I want to continue improving my skills/knowledge.
- I really want to learn more math. I took an advanced optimization class this fall that was a good start towards that, and in the spring, I’ll be taking a grad level computational statistics class that I think will be interesting.
- I love being a TA and want to get better at teaching.
- I also want to write more C and get better at it.
- I wrote a ton of D3 this year, and I want to keep doing data vis related projects.
- I’m finally at the point in my CS minor where I’m taking higher level intelligence classes. I’m also thinking about either taking or sitting in on a high performance computing class.
- I want to write more blog posts. That includes data vis blog posts and personal blog posts.
- Towards the end of this fall semester, my diet was 50% pizza, 50% Chick-fil-A. Here’s to hoping I cook more often in 2018.
- This year, I bought a ton of clothes that I didn’t need. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about capitalism/consumerism, and I would like to reflect more on that and on ethical consumption.