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Transitioning from Finance to Tech

The switch from finance to tech was not instantaneous. There were quite a bit of extracurricular activities I had to do to make myself marketable in the industry.

 

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I accomplished this with online classes. I used Udemy and Coursera. These are 2 of the most popular online classes that exist today. Personally, I liked Udemy more. However, Coursera has more merit to their classes because they are associated with multiple well known schools (MIT, Wharton,…). These are some of the classes I took on these online platforms: Fundamentals of Quantiative Analysis, Business Analysis Fundamentals, An Entire MBA in 1 Course, The Complete SQL Bootcamp, and Tableau 10 A-Z. Currently, I am taking 2 more. They are MySQL Advanced for Data Analytics and Business Intelligence and The Complete Python Bootcamp.

These classes helped open the doors to tech for me. They got my feet wet with different topics and experiences that I would soon encounter. In my opinion, each of them helped, and are helping me, in my career today.

However, it takes an enormous amount of effort to complete online classes. Life moves so fast. It takes unbelievable discipline. Can you allocate time daily, weekly, or every weekend to sit down, pay attention, and complete the classes? The only time I had to complete all the classes were weekends, after work, or before work. It’s possible to do, but you need to do it correctly and take precautions so you do not burn out. It is not about completing the class and just getting the certificate. It’s about learning the material and applying the skill in practice.

Applying skills is a whole other topic in itself. All you have to understand about it is that if you cannot appy the skill in practice in your current role at work, apply it anywhere and everywhere else you can. Create a Github account or another place to create your porfolio. Whatever you do, keep at it. Don’t let your skills get rusty after you complete a class. Practice on whatever you can.

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The Switch from Finance to Tech

In October of 2018, I made the switch out of finance to the tech industry. Prior to that I was a Wealth Management Advisor and Analyst. Now, I am a Data/Business Analyst at a SaaS (Software as a Service) company.

Silicon Valley

I was always curious about the tech industry and growing up in the Silicon Valley, it made some sense to venture into the industry. A main factor on making the switch was the difference in culture. People in tech just seemed to enjoy life. I’m not talking about the people only on top, but most of everyone, no matter the position. That appealed to me because this is unheard of in finance.

Tech is not easier than finance. If anything, I think it is harder. Do not get me wrong finance is difficult. From being accepted into a good school, to getting a great job, and the work after you get hired. However, I think because of the facts around finance, tech is more difficult. In tech, it is more about what you know compared to who you know. In finance and business, it is the opposite. Who you know, where you went to school, who your parents are, how much wealth is in your family, and what your parents do, have enormous impact on your success in finance. Those factors outweigh what you know.

I worked with many of these privileged kids in finance. The work ethic and hustle wasn’t there. These kids knew they had it made and their parents have bought them a spot in the big leagues. It was something I despised. People who have the intelligence and the work ethic deserved those spots, not the privileged kids.

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This set me apart from many of those around me while I was at the firm. There was only a handful of us that got the job on our own merit.

Aside from the culture, I didn’t like the sales aspect of my role. I wanted a more analytical role, but I was not able to get that at the firm. In addition, I was always intrigued by tech and coding. I firmly believed things like Wealth Management can become obsolete because of technology.

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I am still a firm believer that computer science, coding, and technology is the future. I wanted to learn more about this industry and what it has to offer. In October 2018, I made the leap and started a new career in the tech industry.

 

Trip to the Motherland (South Korea)

For those who do not know, I am of South Korean descent. I was born in South Korea, and have only been there once when I was 2-3 years old.

I recently went back on a vacation trip. I always wanted to go back and see the place of my roots. The trip was eye-opening for me and I loved it. It was a learning experience as well. The culture is massively different from what I am used to here in the Bay Area and in America in general. Honestly, I think it is better for the most part. There are a few acceptable norms there that I do not agree with, but the pros outweigh the cons.

The few norms that I do not agree with are the amount of smoking, spitting, definition of beauty, and the need to be nice and respectful to the elderly (let me explain).

  • People are smoking everywhere is South Korea. It is generally not allowed in the subways, subway stations, and inside public areas. There are designated areas as these locations for smokers. However, it is allowed freely outside. The amount of second-hand smoke I inhaled in certain areas remind me of a casino.
  • Hock/Hocking is also very common. It is mostly the older generation, but they do not care where they do it. Don’t get me wrong. South Korea is very clean. Only beat by Japan and Singapore, I think. However, some people feel the need to hock and spit everywhere. I felt that most of the time it was unnecessary and gross. I understand that once in a while people do it if they feel super congested or need to clear their nasal congestion, but the amount of times some of these people did it was not for that purpose. Or if so, they could have done it privately or in the bathroom.
  • The definition of beauty in South Korea is very odd. It is known as the plastic surgery capital of the world because of how many people get eyelid surgery there. However, as for full on plastic surgery, I think rich women in America (especially the Tri-Valley, Beverley Hills, and rich parts of New York) have them beat. People in South Korea think whiter skins means beauty. A lot of makeup and even sunblock have whitening agents in them. I bought sunblock with whitening agents unknowingly. I threw it away immediately after I found out. I think it is a shame that whiter skin is a beauty standard in South Korea. They probably think the same for America with tanning. I think artificially whiter skin is ugly, disgusting, and a disgrace.
  • The norm in South Korea, as with most Asian countries, is to treat all elders with respect. However, I think some elderly take advantage of it. I’ve seen the elderly cut in line, complain for nothing, bitch to innocent people, and treat people with disrespect. In America, that wouldn’t stand. I believe America has the opposite problem, not enough respect for elders. But in South Korea, most of the people just take it and move on. I can try to understand the troubles some of the elderly can go through, but that usually is not reason enough for what I have seen.

 

Then there are norms I completely agree with and that America should implement.

  • The punctuality of the people and services were amazing! When they say you are leaving on a specific time, they mean it. They do not leave early, and they do not leave late. In addition, people may come early, but they do not arrive late. Being late is viewed as extremely disrespectful and disgraceful to yourself.
  • One of the best things about South Korea is the public transportation. I can go on and on about this one. All public transportation can be done on a card called a TMoney Card. It is available at all convenience stores, the airport, and most subway stations. You can purchase tickets as well, but I didn’t see anyone but tourists doing that. You load money on your TMoney Card and use it as a debit card for public transportation. The nice thing is if you use a TMoney Card, all public transportation has a reduced fair! In addition, most convenience stores accept it as payment as well. There is at least one convenience store at each subway station. As for itself, the subway is the main public transportation that people take. It is fast, efficient, and on time. They are clean, have a/c, have police on them that really do their job, and do not permit homeless to sleep on them (however, there are some in the subway stations themselves). It is run so efficiently that, on the main lines, a train comes every 3-5 minutes!
  • Convenience stores in South Korea make the ones in America look like shit. I can’t even begin to describe the difference without seeming like a complete asshole. I’ll go over some of the main points: food tastes great, there are places to sit and eat inside them, selection and quality of food, politeness of the employees, prices, and all serve alcohol (this last point probably isn’t possible in America due to American culture and standards).
  • Culture in South Korea is one of respect. Anyone and everyone you speak to addresses you in a respectful manner. People there take responsibilities of their actions and are willing to do something extra to be helpful. There are exceptions, but this is the social norm. It is instilled in children at a young age. Those who do wrong are looked down upon, saw as an outcast, and punished accordingly. This may be the reason why crime is so low in South Korea and why it is considered one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Food delivery is stuff of dreams here! Anyone and everyone delivers food! And not only to homes or businesses. They deliver to parks, street corners, hotels, and just about anywhere else you can give them a location to. Everyone from fast food franchises to “mom and pop” restaurants do this.

 

PICTURES COMING SOON!

Life’s Biggest Regret Solved by Millennials?

Have the millennials figured it out? Words of wisdom from the elderly says that their biggest regret in life was not taking action. Not doing what they wanted to because of fear. They say money does not matter at that point. What does matter are the memories of experiences you have had, your family, and your friends.

 

If we follow these truths, don’t the millennials have it figured out? They place experiences and happiness above all.

 

I used to be against this. I believed that investing for the long-term was the right way to live life. I used to think most millennials were idiots for focusing so much on the “now”. However, maybe they have it right. Not fully, of course. But maybe a balance of the two is important with it leaning a little more to the “now”. Maybe a 60%/40% split?

 

This brings me to several quotes that also follow this mindset:

  • “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu
  • “Forget the past, forget the future, this moment is all. This moment has to become your prayer, your love, your life, your death, your everything. This is it. And live courageously, don’t be cowards. Don’t think of consequences; only cowards think of consequences.” – Osho
  • The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answer, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.” – The Dalai Lama

 

For those who don’t know me, I have anxiety. It does not show most of the time, but it is always there. I am always worried or thinking about the future. Almost everything I do, every action I take, is an investment for the future. There is nothing wrong about investing towards the future, but I am in agreement that maybe I do it too much. It has me thinking, is this really the trick to happiness?

 

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Only time will tell.

The American Dream vs The Millennial Dream Part 2

The Millennial Dream

The Millennial Dream changed the course of the future. It brought powers down and made others rise. Gone are the days where college is the only path you can take, where people only work traditional jobs, and individuals buy a home the first chance they get.

We changed all that.

Because tech, computer science, and coding are on the rise, companies are becoming more open to alternate forms of education and experience. They are accepting non-traditional schooling for those seeking to get into these fields. These companies are now more interested in “what you can do” compared to those in the past that focused on what school you came from. Talent and skills became the new name of the game. Schools are slowly coming under pressure to make a change to adapt with the times. In addition, industries that people never thought would happen are now multimillion dollar industries. These include being an influencer, vlogger, blogger, ecommerce, cryptocurrency traders, foreign exchange traders, and video gaming.

 

An example of this that came out recently is this article by CNBC about some of the most dominant companies in the world no longer requiring a college degree. (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/16/15-companies-that-no-longer-require-employees-to-have-a-college-degree.html)

Millennials are not content anymore with just a decent paying job. They want to be proud of where they work. They want their employer to do good and have missions that align with theirs. Employers need to do good for society. That was never a concern before. They want more vacations and they want to travel the world. They fight for their right in the workplace and outside of it. They are not afraid to be whistleblowers anymore. Companies that understand this are thriving. Those that do not or are afraid of these changes are losing traction. It comes back to the old saying in business, “Adapt and innovate or die.” The S&P500 will look very different 10 years from now. That is a fact.

Real estate, as we know it, is in danger. Millennials do not prioritize buying a home. They are more interested in finding a culture that they fit in with and working remotely from there. AKA, the digital nomad. In addition, it doesn’t help that at the moment real estate values are at all-time highs. They are finding more value in experiences than materialistic items and goods. The most sought-after lifestyle is that of a digital nomad. Where one can travel and live how they see fit and change the location on a dime. Individuals that have created careers or have careers that can afford this lifestyle are the new “Joneses”.

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I think that this is a good thing overall. Schools need competition, companies need to change, and people need to experience more in life. There is only so much one can experience and learn while staying put. I used to believe that one can, but one trip overseas was all it took for me to understand how stupid that thinking and logic was.

Regardless of whether you like the change that is happening, the fact is that this is the new norm. At this point there is only so much that one can do. Coming full circle, “Adapt and innovate or die.”

The American Dream vs The Millennial Dream Part 1

Many have claimed that millennials have ruined “The American Dream”. As a millennial myself, I tried doing some research to see if that was true. Based on my finding, this is my opinion.

cardow-american-dream600.jpgThe American Dream is said to be the ethos for America. It is rooted in the Declaration of Independence where “all men are created equal”. It sets forth ideals which include the opportunity for prosperity and success for those willing to work hard enough for it. It promises social mobility and few barriers.

For the longest time, it was played out in the following scenario. A immigrant family would come to America with nothing to their name and no money. Through hard work, the parents would be able to create their own business or work their way up the corporate ladder. They would have a nice home, nice cars, and would be able to pay for their children to go to a reputable college. Your children would graduate and land fantastic jobs. They would go on with their lives and have families of their own. You would happily retire around age 65 and move to a warmer climate. You have succeeded in life and have lived the American Dream.

That rarely happens today. A part of that is due to millennials and the millennial mindset. However, a lot of that is due to the economy and American society. The main culprits are tuition, the government, and technology.

  1. According to CollegeBoard.org, in the last 10 years the cost of education at public universities has more than doubled. It is even more at private ones. They increase at an average of 5% a year! Not many people’s wages increase at the same rate. The average salary increase is about 2-3%. However, I believe that is false. Most people do not get annual salary increases, or it is far less than the stated percentage. Also, keep in mind that the average salary in the United States is $56K. A state school in California costs about $7,500 in tuition alone per year. For out-of-state students, it is more. Add in living expenses and it exceeds the national average salary. I understand that many in the Bay Area have salaries above the national average or have two incomes. But keep in mind, there are also many who do not. That is why too many, included myself, go into debt to afford tuition.
  2. Government spending on education is only 2% of the budget. It has been that way for the longest time. This needs to change if there is any chance that the American Dream can be revived. To paint a picture, military spending has ranged from 30%-60% in the last 10 years. In addition, military veterans get paid shit and get terrible benefits. Teachers and instructors are underpaid. Students have to take bullshit general education classes in college to make the school more money. Sport coaches are paid millions. All this and we still have questions why our education system sucks and is failing?
  3. Technology is the last reason I have for keeping the American Dream a mirage. The rate at which technology changes is astronomical. With those changes comes a need for a ever-changing new skill set. Skills that you went to school for and paid for become obsolete quickly. College graduates from prestigious schools get paid more than those who are seniors in the field because they have more time to learn new skills as they come out. Automation is on the rise because of efficiency, cut costs, clash of cultures, and unpredictability of human nature.

I am not proposing a fix. I would not even begin to know how to do so. I believe some of these are near impossible to fix. No one can stop the spread of technology.

However, I think millennials have created alternatives that do help. Many have their own opinions about millennials. Some hate them, some love them. I have a mix. The thing everyone agrees on is millennials have changed the course of the future and the definition of the American Dream.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 in “The American Dream vs The Millennial Dream”.

One Year Ago

One year ago, an event happened that changed my life. One year ago, around this time, was the first time since I was a baby that I traveled outside the United States. That single event changed my entire viewpoint. It opened my mind to wonders I never thought of before.

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Thinking back, it feels crazy that this one event can have so much of an impact. Even to this day, I still reminisce about my time there. Now, I want to experience more. Hong Kong was great! However, there are still so many places to go and things to see.

The culture was the most addicting part of it. It was so different compared to what I am used to, and I loved it! It opened my mind to thoughts like living internationally. I never considered it before, but now I welcome the concept.

Depending on future events, I am even considering going for a MiF at SMU in Singapore. I chose this program because I heard the culture is very similar to the rest of Asia, and one of the official languages of Singapore is English.

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I love how in Asian culture discipline and respect is taught at a very young age. People there aren’t as selfish as they are here. Also, it seems they understand common sense. One of the things I love most about the culture is that everything literally runs 24/7. If you want to go out and eat at 2am, places are open. if you want to hang out with friends at a coffee shop at 3am, you better hope there are still tables open. Maybe later in life these wont appeal to me as much, but for now they do greatly.

However, I do understand there are cons of living in Asia. Conformity is a norm there. You do not have too much of a voice on your own. Certain practices and sexual orientations are not as welcome in some parts. Some individuals may consider parts of Asia as racist, even though there is rampant racism in America. Cars are very expensive to own and most people do not own cars. This pains me a little because of my love for cars, but it is a sacrifice I don’t mind making. The public transportation more than makes up for it.

Even with the negatives, living internationally is something I am considering. Will I go through with it? I don’t know. Only time will tell.

Expats feel free to give me insights of your experiences!

Birthday in Portland

Several weekends ago I spent my birthday in Portland, Oregon. Portland was different than I thought it would be. Honestly, it is pretty much the same as SF. I expected it to be cleaner. It seemed like there were as many homeless there as in SF. I do feel for them, but they are not the first thing you want to encounter when you are on vacation or trying to eat a meal.

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Other than that, it is a beautiful and green city that is in tune with nature. The most memorable being the International Rose Garden! It was beautiful! Sadly, I didn’t get to check out the Portland Zoo or Japanese Garden. The homes were also beautiful where I stayed. I had an Airbnb only a few minutes away from Downtown Portland.

The food was as good as rumored! Also, the breweries! Livermore has quite a few very popular breweries, but Portland won in sheer numbers and craft brews. Deschutes was the best brewery I have been to! It was big, had great food, and great beer!

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Flying and Pilot Training

Learning to fly has been one hell of a experience! It is exhilarating and creates huge amounts of anxiety at the same time. There is something to say about being able to be among the clouds and look down at the world. Even so, I was not always the best with heights. However, I am at ease when flying in good weather. It’s so calm and beautiful up there. On the other hand, when it is bad weather, it scares the shit outta me. I hate turbulence! I know I have to get used to it, but it’s going to take some time.

Currently, I am training at a flying school using a Cessna 172. It is a great training aircraft! Besides the gym, this is the only thing that keeps my mind off of everything else happening in life. Mostly because it needs my complete concentration. I believe if I fuck up, I’ll die.

It’s not something I thought I would be doing, but I am so glad that I tried! I want to encourage and challenge others to do the same. Step out of that comfort zone and try something that you have always wanted to but believed it would be too difficult or impossible to do. We all have things and obligations that we need to do, but don’t get wrapped up so much that you forget to live life.

The Price of Living in California

The price of living in California is enormous. Most people in other states and other parts of the world don’t understand that. It’s not just San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles either.

I currently live in a apartment about 40 miles east of SF. Rent is not that much cheaper here. I am in what is considered a “income restriction apartment”. This means you cannot live here if you make too much money, and it is a step up from low income apartments or section 8. Whats the restriction? $80K per person at the time of signing! According to Business Insider, the average US median income is $59K. For my 1B1B apartment, Rent + Comcast Internet + PG&E + Utilities + Renter’s Insurance = ~$2,200 a month. This is not a luxury apartment. It had basic apartment amenities like a small gym, 1 small pool, and a hot tub (that is broken consistently).

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For those who still wish to move to California, try different locations than SF and LA. Some suggestions are Dublin, Livermore, Sacramento, San Ramon, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Rosa, Napa, and Sonoma. These are close to the major cities, but are also far enough away from them. However, commuting and traffic will be a bitch to deal with! That is not saying these places are cheap. They are just cheaper than the major cities. The cost of living in most of these cities are still higher than most of America with home values in the $600-$1M+ range on average for regular homes.

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Having been in real estate and liking travel. I keep my eyes and ears open for other locations that have a great standard of living, but are still in major cities/areas. A lot of Californians have been doing the same and moving to other states. Hundreds of thousands move every year. In the last 2 years, here is where a large portion moved to: Florida, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Texas. Texas is the most popular state that Californians are moving to. I have heard that Austin, Texas is a comparable mix of the Silicon Valley and SF.

 

What are your thoughts on California vs other states? Do you think the high price is justified? Are you considering moving and why?