I have worn many hats in my 20s so far but it has not been all roses and no thorns. Sit back and enjoy this personal post of strategic growth, career trajectories and lifestyle choices of a 20-something programmer and soon to be cloud engineer.
I am a few years shy of my 30th birthday, and have already earned two full-time STEM masters degrees, launched a business and employed people, networked & launched my undergrad sister’s content and design career, learned to code, have been flown to attend exclusive car launch events at cool holiday spots, cited by my favorite movie director, received US Army’s REAP scholarship as a student researcher and mentor.
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Like many young people, I have struggled to find optimal options that I would like to spend my time, resources on. As a result, I have created business and opportunities, worked through several different kinds of jobs, have a good understanding for a few fields apart from my current field of work, invested time and resources in getting good degrees and developing people skills, pitching my prediction software to venture capitalists, undergoing extensive technical and coding interviews at startups while reeling in flu, setting my undergrad sis up in her future career. Was it a smooth ride? Not in the least! I have buried a beloved pet, dealt with jealous co-workers, backstabbers and nuisances. While still at college, I tutored middle school kids in science and mathematics, while writing and publishing my short stories in a renowned national daily, pitched manuscripts to publishers and eventually published my first book at 21, all because I wanted to be a full-time writer and was inspired by the likes of Ayn Rand and J.K. Rowling. Up until that point, I had spent a considerable about of time reading Dostoveysky and Shaw, and learning extensively from them.
Soon after that, I enrolled for my first master’s degree and got a well paid first job right after completion. I left it anyway because my mind kept veering off to newer horizons and I knew I had to do a lot more than settle down in a comfortable job at that point. I hadn’t traveled, I hadn’t coded, I hadn’t tested where the blog that I started a year prior to that would take me, I hadn’t networked extensively and I was still very introverted. And I hadn’t decided to travel across continents to an unknown future, inspire other young women, meet a global community, #codeforhealth and learn to design cloud-based infrastructures.
Finally, I took a brave decision and obliterated my house fund that I was building since I was 20 (around the same time I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree) and to go to grad school in USA (you can read all about it here), have been a student researcher-mentor under US ARMY’s REAP program and inspired the high school students I mentored to take up a career in biomedical genomics and programming. You can read it in this post on my university’s website.
Being one of the few women in my field: programmer/ cloud architect/ automation engineer, I have faced sexism in the workplace from bosses and colleagues, even though I can safely say I have had a great run and a stream of awesome mentors, professors, and bosses while I worked and did research on my computational genomics project at university.
On one hand, I have worked on proof of concept and product viability documents for my software and presented it to prospective investors (this is still a work in progress); on the other, I have also been invited to audition for modelling assignments, worked as a waitress for a weekend event just for the experience, awed people when I told them I am a coder/ researcher on being asked about my life, and also bought Louis Vuitton on a whim while being broke. I gathered a good amount of experience in interviews in 3 different fields (well enough to create an interview cheat-sheet or guide! Learn more about it at the bottom of this post!)
I have created my business and developed my network from scratch because I was doing something new altogether. While being a grad student, I have had long periods of social seclusion: just working at my lab, working on university assignments, my 20hr a week job, building my business on the side. In those periods, I have also ignored my health, lived on processed foods and binge-watched Netflix if I scored some free time.
But then again, I have had friends from all over the world, spent amazing summers in California, attended free Flo Rida Concerts, open-air Shakespearean plays, astronomy clubs, attended science and business meetings, visited museums, attended the festival of nations, sampled various cuisines and liquor, camped and travelled extensively during short bursts of time; to having periods of the club lifestyle every Friday and Saturday night for weeks on an end and getting wasted. Since the latter encompassed on a very short span, I quickly got rid of the habit, and ventured back into a more mindful existence, sold off most of my party clothes to a local consignment store and led myself on to a simplified, capsule wardrobe design phase. I love having less visual clutter, more organization, and aesthetic around me. I also designed my hours around it. Read “ 7 Weekend Rituals for the Most Productive Week Ahead”
I have always liked the idea of having multiple sources of income, preferably mainly passive so I don’t have to trade my time for money. That has been the main propeller for my 2 main sabbaticals, once when I took some time off to write full time and work as a freelancer, ie, focusing on starting a freelance business that soon paved the way for my blog and related business and once when I left my full time, cushy job and started building my business full time, while learning to code in C++ (and later in Python) and working for a news site. The time paid off, not only did I gained more work experience, got new skills including coding, I also gathered business acumen and landed major partnerships with brands and got exclusive event invites sponsorships, and PR samples on a regular basis. This also helped me launch my kid sister’s career as well through my network.
This was right before I planned to move to the USA for my second master’s degree to utilize my prior education and skills in the STEM field.
My bf (also the co-founder of this blog) and I have been in a long distance relationship for a while now. And just like any other relationship, we too have seen our conflicts and ups and downs. We plan for the big picture together and help each other reach goals. His trajectory has been similar to mine, sans the long sabbaticals! He too has two masters degrees and now works as an automation engineer with a popular web-based company in New York. He got into a Professional Data Analytics and Business Intelligence course at Harvard Business School this year! You can never stop learning and do incredible things. I sometimes make jokes about how it was all my idea to create our blog and launch subsequent businesses that have received some good exposure and mentions across continents thereby opening up new avenues for us.
The Influencer and Boss Babe
I have kind of lived a dual life in my 20s so far. On one hand, I am a researcher, coder and automation engineer on the roll, and on the other, I am a businesswoman and blogprenuer (blogger-entrepreneur). I keep the two areas of my life completely different and I channel the networks and resources from my blog and ancillary business towards future business plans and passive income streams including prospective real estate investments. Living the hustler life has enabled me to put myself out there, and see both sides of the coin and learn perseverance, wade through dry spells, have an interesting social life (or sometimes its total lack thereof!), meet interesting people, take new risks and have a better footing for my more mature years once I hit 30 in a few years!
So, are you ready to try out new things or finally do what you have been planning to work on? Maybe learn how to code ( we will soon start sharing free tutorials on our new blog), maybe launch that blog (get noticed by your favorite director and have a stream of sponsorships flowing!) or, earn some money on the side working on your own weblog to attend a prestigious business school or get that masters degree? Bluehost is celebrating small businesses with an exclusive access to web hosting at $3.45/mo for 36 months on their Basic hosting plan and support on 30 April at 12:01 AM MT until May 1 at 11:59 PM MT. If you choose to sign up through our link by clicking the colored text, we will send you ( for every qualifying purchase once you have emailed us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
a)a free printable business planner set and create a personalized logo for your blog, or
b) an exclusive access to premium resume templates that usually cost up to $30 a month and a #codeforhealth interview questions with solutions (pdf) for your qualifying purchase as a thank you for helping our small business thrive!