Not all career paths are linear. After completing my BS in Electrical engineering at KAIST in Daejeon and then an MBA at KAIST’s Seoul campus I got a job as a product manager at one of Korea’s top companies but I wasn’t happy. The problem was not the job itself, it is more organizational problem. I was managing a product line which was not one of the primary business areas and the management was just pushing growth targets even when the whole market was going down. My product could not get much support at the organizational level which left me helpless but they still pushed for higher numbers and more reports. I spent more time reporting rather than doing something useful. Also, since I am a foreigner, I didn't see much chance to change to a better opportunity in Korea. I thought about going back to China, and I realized for my next job, I wanted to focus on something where at least I could control my work at some level and I always wanted to keep some power to find a better job. I started talking about my issues with a friend from high school who was working in the US. He suggested I look into computer science. Since EE required some programming and math knowledge and all I needed was a computer to get started I began practicing programming on the weekends and talked to more friends in the industry. They provided me with a lot of suggestions about how to quickly pick up CS-related skills. After I practiced programming for several months and took some CS courses on Coursera, I applied for a CS Master’s program and got admitted. Quitting my job and switching paths wasn’t easy but it will pay off in the long run.
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