Bidding 2017 Farewell

Parliament Hill in Ottawa

It’s the time of the year again to reflect and review all of the amazing, crazy things that have happened. It feels like New Year was yesterday, and now it’s time to say a bittersweet good-bye to 2017.

As we wind down the year, let’s take a look at some highlights from the past 12 months.

January – April

Back then, I wasn’t aware of the job industry and how competitive it was. I reduced my courseload by 1 so that I could focus on job hunting. As a result, I was so much more relaxed. I also…

  • worked on side projects;
  • attended a couple of hackathons;
  • played the piano almost every day;
  • joined the Archery Club at Waterloo and started going for weekly archery sessions; and
  • attended the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) pitch at Waterloo (highly recommended!)

I ended the term with an amazing trip with a few close friends to Niagara Falls,

A view of Niagara Falls, ON, Canada

May – August

During the summer, I interned as a Junior Software Engineering Instructor at Horizons School of Technology. Most of my experience at Horizons were documented here. My focus during that time was people skills and traveling. It is really exciting to see how everyone at Horizons was very driven by their goals and intelligent in their own ways, and I’m very thankful to be able to meet this group of people in my life.

Horizons Summer 2017 Cohort

September – December

In Fall, I challenged myself and enrolled into three advanced CS/Math courses (i.e. CS241E, CS246E, STAT240). These courses were not designed to be hard, just for the sake of being hard, but the increased sophistication of the material caused the increase level of difficulty. In particular, CS246E was very time consuming, especially the final project. However, it was a very rewarding experience.

Here are some other highlights:

  • learned how to organize my time properly;
    My Fall 2017 Schedule
  • Google Games 2017 + free swags;
    Google Games 2017. Team Waterloogle
  • Capture the Flag @ UWaterloo. We won third!
    Waterloo CTF 2017. Team xyz
  • spent Christmas in Montréal and New Year in Ottawa; ended the year with fireworks in Parliament Hill; also picked up a few French words! (but…je ne parle pas francais :satisfied:)
    Mount Royal, Montréal

Job Hunting

Overall, I sent in 107 applications in total for both Summer 2017 and Winter 2018 internships on WaterlooWorks (WW), and more than 100 applications outside of WW. Here were the results:

  • Summer 2017: 5 interviews (1 Offer, 2 Ranked, 1 Not Ranked, 1 Cancelled)
  • Winter 2018: 12 interviews (6 Offers, 2 Ranked, 4 Not Ranked) + a couple of interviews/offers outside of WW. Some of these interviews had multiple rounds.

In order to prepare for these interviews, I practiced on platforms such as LeetCode and HackerRank, and scheduled 15 mock technical interviews (6 on Pramp, 8 on interviewing.io, and 1 Refdash) within 2 months. Each session lasts about an hour. I highly recommend doing these mock technical interviews as it will help boost your confidence during actual technical interviews. When I started using those platforms, I was amazing by how thorough the feedback were, and they were really helpful.

Sample interviewing.io Feedback


Three months ago, a friend asked, “What is the most important thing you have learned in the past 1 year?”

I hesitated for a moment. I didn’t know what to respond. I wasn’t expecting this from him either. I could only pull out a handful of life lessons that I could recall at that time.

Since then I had this habit of jotting down life lessons learned the hard way. I felt that it would be really useful to see how much a person has learned and how the person have grown through those.

Here’s a list of them which spans across academia, life, and personal leadership.

  • Build for the future. For every action that you take, think about its consequences 10 steps ahead;
  • Craft a story for yourself;
  • Do not follow trends. Just because people are chasing it, it doesn’t mean that you have to follow;
  • Emphasize on strengths, not weaknesses;
  • Empower people to be their best;
  • Find something that you have a competitive advantage in and go down that route;
  • Focus. Remember your goals. Everything else are distractions;
  • Follow your passions;
  • Have T-shaped skills in life, i.e. learn as many skills as you can, but be really good in one;
  • Never stop learning. Take whatever you have learned and learn more with the new knowledge that you have;
  • Read, Read, Read;
  • Take smart risks;
  • Work hard, but stay healthy;
  • You can always find someone better than you. Just be yourself and remember that life is a single player game. Keep moving on!

:gift: “Don’t you find it funny how most life lessons boil down to simple, cliched phrases, or words?”

Wrapping up

2017 has been such an amazing year for me, and I couldn’t have done any of it without the incredibly supportive friends and classmates around me. Thank you. It was an intellectually simulating journey, and you’ve made that journey a wonderful experience. I am very thankful that I am learning and doing more than what I could obtain from a UWaterloo degree.

Special mention to my Montréal-trip friends: You guys have ended my year with a memorable experience. I really enjoyed exploring the city together, as well as all the long, deep conversations over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Looking forward to more of these in the future! :wink:

Merci, Merci, Merci!

This year serves as an inspiration to chase our own adventures and do better in 2018. This wraps up my year in review! Very excited for 2018, and looking forward to share my journey here. Bonne Année!