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📅 Professional Timeline

🤔 Problem Space

When I was browsing the web relatively recently, I found Shantini Vyas's website, which talks about how she ended up in her current career working for Apple.

Many of my students and mentees at the University of Washington ask what it's like to transition from an explicitly non-tech career to being a programmer or data scientist full time, so I figured I would put something similar together.

🛠 Process


Studied at The Ohio State University; lived as a freegan for most of this time, and sold thrifted things online. Studied computer music under Mark Ainger, which was maybe my first exposure to serious programming in Max/MSP/Jitter.


Worked as librarian/professional tutor; volunteered for ESL teaching; started exploring generative code and design using Processing


Taught English in China; began self-study in data science and programming


Returned from China; worked as professional tutor; continued self-study in data science and programming


Worked at UNC in the business school producing coursework; did some simple web programming & maintenance/data analysis as part of job

June 2017

Quit job; moved to Seattle

September 2017

Enrolled in graduate school; Masters of Science in Information Management. Won a graduate fellowship to work in the Foreign Service through the Foreign Affairs Information Technology program but declined it to try my hand at the tech industry and stay in one place for a while

Summer 2018

Open Data Literacy Internship with City of Seattle and State of Washington, where I generated embeddings and modeled topics in public records

Autumn 2018 - Spring 2019

Data Modeling & User Research for IAC Data Model Project; I probably talk about this project the most in interviews

Spring 2019

Graduated from MSIM; applied to (likely) thousands of jobs on the internet, trying to decide between a career in quantitative user experience research and data science straight-up; got offered some insultingly low salaries as a data analyst as part of this journey (<$30k in downtown Seattle)

September 2019 - October 2022

Data Engineer at Four Peaks Environmental Science and Data Solutions, where I did all kinds of stuff and learned rapidly about technical work but also having a customer-focused mindset

October 2022 - Present

Data Engineer at Bold Penguin, where I maintained data pipelines for systems that process PDFs with computer vision, ingest data into a database, etc.

🎉 Outcomes

I still run into questions I'm not sure how to answer professionally, and put in lots of effort to self-study and learn new things.