My Journey into Product Management
How a mecha-robot anime led me to becoming a product manager
My journey into tech and product management started with an anime about robots called Gundam Seed. After every high school summer, I indulged myself with a rewatch of the series. I was obsessed with “Coordinators”, an advanced race with the ability to pilot mecha-robots. My obsession eventually led me to join my school’s robotics team as a programmer. I wanted to be a robot programmer.
After a couple of physics courses that explained the impossibilities of mecha-robots and some humbling bugs, I shifted my focus into software engineering.
University of Waterloo opened my eyes to the world of tech
That fall, I started as a freshman at the University of Waterloo’s Software Engineering program. My college was known for its unique co-op program that required students to complete internships as a part of their degree. In my case, we were expected to complete six internships. This meant that students would graduate with two years of work experience across up to six different companies.
I started my stint in the tech industry as a software engineering intern at Facebook. I was lucky enough to land an internship after getting a foot in the door as the Waterloo Facebook Hackathon winner in 2014.
Following Facebook, I continued to work as a software engineer by interning at Google and then Coursera. Throughout these internships, I was exposed to various types of problems. For example, at Facebook, I focused on increasing user engagement with Facebook Pages. At Google, I built an internal tool to analyze Chrome usage dat to understand how Google Chrome was being used which helped inform a redesign. At Coursera, I implemented Android designs for new product called specializations and improved the translation processes.
At the end of the day, something felt missing. I didn’t feel as fulfilled with the work that I was doing. At the end of the day, I got fulfillment by solving user problems.
In freshman year, I always craved pizza but didn’t want to spend money. So I wrote a script to pull all of the campus’ employer info sessions into my calendar so I knew where to get free pizza. To me, eating that free pizza was fulfilling because it meant I had solved the user’s problem i.e. I craved pizza.