Transcript

Krystal’s Story

Chasing Your Curiosity and Continuous Learning

Things are easier when you are passionate about something.  A lot of great careers are built on curiosity and obsession including Krystal Maughan our guest for today’s episode.

Krystal will share her journey as she chased her curiosity in programming whereever it led her.

“Everybody has that moment when everything’s shiny, you know when it’s new and you walk on to campus like Google or whatever. Like the first time, I went to Google IO and I just thought it was like, this is insane.” – Krystal Maughan

“If you like to learn things, I think that’s a gift. I think that’s not something that everybody has.” – Krystal Maughan

“I think that seeing programming in different ways and seeing that it could be this kind of fun thing that you could break apart and find different ways of executing.” –Krystal Maughan

Transcript

This is a machine-translated transcript. Podcast page for this episode is here

Adam: What was it like when you first started coding? For me, it was super addictive. Krystal Maughan caught the coding bug and she couldn’t shake it. That interest pivoted her life towards being a developer until she finally pivoted again and left it all behind. 

Adam: One thing like. How do I ask this one thing I don’t get? Okay. So you know, for a while you were, you were scrambling, I guess and then so you got a job at Apple. They’ve paid a lot of money. They hand out Apple stock with lunch as far as I know. But then you left. So like, you know, people talk about getting a job at like, Fang company. I’m pretty sure they’re one of the A’s.

Krystal:  Yeah … Like, everybody goes through this thing where everybody has that moment when everything’s like shiny but …

Adam: Hello and welcome to CoRecursive. I’m Adam Gordon Bell.

Today is Krystal’s story. It’s a story of working jobs you don’t like while taking night classes in Java and C++ a story of making friends at tech meetups. It’s also really a story about career growth and about following your curiosity. You know, if something interests you, just chasing after it, even if it means putting everything at risk.

We started in 2004. Krystal has moved from Trinidad. She’s enrolled in film school in New York, and she learns to read HTML source code, and she does it, strangely enough, to help her overcome homesickness. 

Carnival Time

Krystal: So in Trinidad, we have this huge festival every year called carnival. It’s kind of like Mardi Gras, but more awesome.

I was kind of involved around, so the whole theater and lighting thing, a lot of the gigs are around that time. And it’s just this massive festival. So that’s part of our culture, like the whole carnival thing. And so for carnival season, imagine all these Caribbean people are stuck in this snowy, depressing,   place, and that they know that back in their home country, there are people in bikinis having fun.

So it’s carnival time. You kind of get this. I think if he grew up in that culture, you. Something about you just knows it’s carnival time and your friends keep posting pictures and reminding you. And it’s really annoying. So,   I think one of the ways we dealt with that was by listening to it, was that, I don’t know if it’s still around, but it was, it used to be called music media had both reggae and like a dance hall, reggae, and soca.

And, so this website would have every year when the artist brought out the music. They would upload it. So you would hear all the popular tunes for that year for the carnival season. From around October, the musicians will release, Oh, I just really send any track. And it’s people they have these songs have hundreds of thousands of views.

Cause my brother is a programmer, by the way. I don’t know if I mentioned that, but he taught me in college, how to view source and 

Adam: So you are on music media and you’re listening to your latest.

And then you, your brother’s like, what did he say? Like hit view source and edit this? 

Krystal: Yeah. He said so he was showing me, he said if he’s hit, if you saw us, it’s easy. He’s like, Oh, see there is some music,  source right there. And he pointed out and said,. MP3 or whatever. And so I kind of learned.

That’s how to look at the pages, find the music, and download them. And I don’t have them anymore. But my old laptop, I think, crashed. But   I had so many, so much stolen music. I had terrible qualities. Of course, this is kind of compressed, but it was good enough for me in college to have access to that music.

Adam: After college Krystal and her laptop of bootleg music had LA. She gets a job at a place doing lighting for film, but she ends up being relegated to a desk job. She gets a bit bored, starts taking night classes and computer college. Then at a meetup, she really finds her new passion. 

Meeting a Haskell Group 

Krystal: So after the,  getting into programming and deciding that I loved it, I found Haskell.

Strangely, I was looking for meetups in the Los Angeles area and I found the Santa Monica high school group and the papers love group. I didn’t study computer science. I want to learn about computer science papers and who the famous people in computer science are. So I started attending that. So a bunch of hostile people showed up and one of them, Is Sky Fixler.

He turned to me and he said,  would you like to come to our Haskell to meet up tomorrow? And I said, what’s Haskell? And he, and he said, Oh, it’s the same time, same place, and I showed up and I left that meetup just kind of overwhelmed by how happy I was and how cool it was. 

Adam: I mean, I feel like you kind of, you, you didn’t, you jumped over it there.

Like at some point you were like, coding is awesome, or this is fun. Like maybe you weren’t like a, I’m going to do this for a living, but you’re like, Oh my God, this is. I hate this. Wait, I got to work. I love this

Seeing Programming in Different Fun Ways

Krystal: I was taking the classes and I was taking Java, but I think the moment that I joined that high school group and I kind of saw this new, I was like, is this programming?

I think this is so weird.   something about it. And I think the community was so playful.   it’s a, it’s, I think there’s something about functional programming that it’s like you’re playing with code. Or the rules of what code should be that I thought as somebody who didn’t come from that background, I thought it was really interesting.

And then reading the whole subculture, as you read about Peter Norvig when I was graduating, we just started to have programming, but it was a basic, I know my brother did more Java type stuff and that was not compelling to me at all. I think I took one North to Java class when I was doing the night school classes.

But I just, it’s just something about it. I just, I, I just didn’t enjoy it and I thought that if I had come through that path with that expectation of, this is what computer science is, it would have never been, I would have never stuck with it. But I think that seeing programming in different ways and seeing that it could be this kind of fun thing that you could break apart and find different ways of executing. So because in my mind I was kind of taught on, my expectation through my brother was that programming is a certain language. And then seeing different things like a list and just seeing, Oh, this is crazy. Like this is programming. You can, you can do this. It’s very compelling. 

Adam: So, okay, so you go to the Haskell meetup, and then what happens? You go home, you install like, like what’s the steps? You install Haskell and you do one plus one and you, 

Programming as a Tool to Build 

Krystal: I guess after the first Haskell meets up, I just had all these questions like I was, so I was going home on the bus.

I took the Metro back home and there were just all these cool things because everybody in that group, so one of the things I’m like, if you go to a typical,   programming group, and I kind of have a huge problem with this if he goes to a programming meetup and you are interested in, say,  Scala or whatever, then that’s a, I’m not picking on this, but I’m just making a point.

A lot of them. The meetup can end up being this thing where all the people, they’re interested in spark or like big data, you know, or you go to,     you go to a Java meetup and they’re all interested in a cradle or you go to, you know, so it’s, it’s very,  tightly defined. And the Haskell group that I went to was the first one where.

There was one person interested in graphics in Haskell, and there was another person interested in ontology in Haskell, and there was another person interested in,   gooey and Haskell or,   making video games or,   you know, all kinds of things. So everybody in that group was interested in functional programming as a means to do something that they loved more so than.

Oh, this, there’s this language and you use it to do X and that’s all it’s possible. That’s all. We kind of think that this is the obstruction through which we think of the language is useful. 

The way I came to hostile it through that meetup was not like that at all. There was a guy making the editor help you to do different languages so you can start coding from any language essentially.

And they had Alexis who was working on Pockets. So you have all these different people who are interested in doing different things for the long winters. I think maybe if languages are kind of, presented that way, it’s, it’s appealing because you don’t necessarily want to learn a language,   just to, to learn the specific subset of what it can do.

You just want to learn as a tool for building something.

Adam: Yeah, because you want to build, like what was your, 

Krystal: Oh, I see. Do a lot of the code Wars stuff like I, so I used to love code Wars, my website with the puzzles. And I think I used a lot of when I was learning, I liked the idea that you could solve puzzles with code.

So I think that I was, I was really drawn towards that yeah. And I would just do several of them every day your work. Yeah. I shouldn’t be saying. Yeah, I was always in this kind of state of conflict where people were telling me, Oh, you should just learn Java scripts.

That’s it. And you just got a job. But Haskell was just fascinating to me.   and then I started looking, I think not so much building things, but trying to understand why. Things in Haskell worked the way they did. I think that was an interesting problem. So, you know, if we’re going through the cold war stuff, I’m trying to figure out why, if this is why, if this is how this works in a job on C++ and Python, why doesn’t it work this way in Haskell?

Like what, what is wrong with this language that it doesn’t work like all the other,   languages. And. So I went through this whole phase where I installed a bunch of different things, you know, like Julia, Smalltalk Prolog. And I just kind of played around them and tried to see what, why, why they were different from each other.

Adam: So you’re at your lighting place.  Okay. And you have like a, do you have a browser tab open to like code wars and then, Oh, it’s like fine though, the longest, the biggest element in the list or something. And you’re like working away and then somebody comes by and you switch the tab over.

Krystal: Oh, yeah, it was, I mean, it was pretty terrible because I’m, and some people may not like this because it’s kinda, it is kind of unethical, but in the end, but,   There was a metal shop behind me as well. We were all in this building. And so I had to deal with customers right behind a metal shop. So, you know, I’d be speaking to someone and then you’d hear the grinders and it’s pretty insane.

So it’s kind of, I dunno, it’s kind of one of those spaces where people were working, but not really. And so it’s, I mean, sometimes it did cause conflicts, but my supervisor was nice enough. To say. Well, if she’s considering that we’re not busy all the time,   if she’s getting her work done, we don’t really care.

And then my desk started filling up with like, Lisp, books, and,   and I actually met a camera guy who used to study programming. So this is the other direction and he saw a Lisp book on my desk. And he said, Lisp. And I said, yeah, I know. I’m taking a class and we’re doing C++. And he told me, he said, I did that for a living.

So if you ever need any help with C++ for work, I can help you. So,   I dunno. Like, that’s awesome. 

Moving from Film to Programming

Adam: That’s great. What were you like, what were your motivations like were you thinking like, I’m going to like, where are you thinking? Like, I’m gonna. I don’t know, get into this professionally or this is just fun or, 

Krystal: so I left the world of film for a really strange reason.   cause I did have a wave where I was working on movie sets and lighting plays and all of this stuff. And I just kinda got bored and I wanted more. And I think that’s. That led me down that path. So mentally, by the time I had,   gotten to that stage of being curious about code,   I had long left that whole idea of, Hey, I want to work in movies or whatever when,   but I honestly never planned any of that.

Like I was, I was just doing it for the fun. I just thought it was really cool and, and I thought,   I don’t, I just, I don’t know how it ended up the way it did. I just kind of enjoyed hanging out with these people and,  I’ve gotten kind of bored doing the work that I was doing. 

Adam: In other words, her job was not exciting, so she found something fun to learn.

This is the story of my career as well. It wasn’t night school classes or Haskell meetups for me, just embracing side projects and ultimately that leads to my next career move for Krystal getting laid off, forced her next career move, and that move was to land a software testing job and apply to the 2018 Google summer of code program.

Google’s summer of code is where Google sponsors students to work on an open-source project along with mentors. Krystal applied with Gabe Gonzalez and Chris Smith as her mentors. She’s going to mention GHC as well. That is the compiler for high school. 

2018 Google Summer of Code Program

Krystal: So the shop where I like doing all my homework and I got laid off from that job because they were not making any money.

And so I was applying for jobs, but I also. I didn’t have a job since I was still going to school. I was considered a student and I knew that they had a computer lab, so I would, that opened at 8:00 AM, so I was just still there for 8:00 AM and then just worked on Haskell as much as I could during the day instead of the applications.

And I was just like, go through books and like to write, write simple stuff. I still, I mean super, super beginner. I’m not experienced with Haskell or anything. And,  so a lot of schools have food pantries for students who don’t have food. And I was thinking of signing up for one, but I was okay with food but I would assign a check like free food on campus.

I’ve just spent the day there and then,   started doing interviews at my school and while I was going through the interview process with a company, it took about two weeks. With a company that I eventually got the manual testing job just to pay me, pay my bills.  I heard, I got an email from my email in the computer lab at school, which is completely not secure.

and it said, congratulations, your proposal has been accepted. And the first thing I thought was, yes, I have money for summer. And I was super excited because I saw Gabe, I saw his name on there and I saw Chris’s name in there. And, and I thought, this is too good to be true. 

Adam: So like one thing I’m interested in is kind of like when you did the Google summer of code? Like what was it like when you,   cause it’s, it’s somewhat of like a transition to like being like a professional developer.  How was it, was it hard? 

Krystal: So we had sessions from, let me see like 6 to 9 sometimes. And so he would spend like hours or like an entire hour on like. Five lines. I think that’s a Google thing. I don’t know. It’s just like, I mean, it’s insane to go from like, you know, community college level,   C++ that you would like to copy out of a book or find any internet kind of thing, copy and paste from stack overflow too,  that meant that level. The quality of mentorship between Gabe and Chris is just, it was just outstanding.

Like, I think that’s been one of the better experiences I’ve ever had. 

Adam: Like that. Did you ever get upset, like, and be like, this is bullshit. Like, we’re an hour in on my five lines 

Krystal: Sometimes. So I usually do the sign thing and I get upset, like, yeah. Yeah. But,   and I feel like initially, it’s like twofold, right?

Like they’re kind of annoyed because they’re like, why? Why Krystal? I’m kind of annoyed because I’m like, this is ridiculous. But,   It was really like, they’re really fun. As both of them are actually like really,   really fun mentors in general. So I think that kind of made the experience really great.

And on the back of my head, I also knew that it was, it’s an incredible opportunity. Because both of them have extensive experience and they also write really clean code. And so when you read their code, you can read and know exactly what it means. And it’s, it’s just well-written, very clean, and,   just proper formatting.

And that’s because I guess both, both company cultures that they,   between, they’re both. Places that they work have standards of really high,   quality code. Yeah. So,  I kind of knew in the back of my head, even though, you know, some of it was rough, that I was getting a really good experience. Oh, I do remember this one time when I told them that I’d gotten a job,   and gave a saying that, Oh, you know, you could apply some of the things you learned.

Even though you’re just doing manual testing, you know, like the clean coding practices. And he said, so what language are you guys using at work? And I said, PHP, like, Oh, sorry. So it was, it was really kind of fun,   you know, experience for me. And we tried to, we all try to make the best of the situation.

But one of the things that I. Was struggling with is that I had limited funding. So, I had, I really thought I could do Google summer of code with a $20 laptop, but I got up off of eBay and,   it became 

It was $29, but I found it on eBay. I saw the troll eBay a lot, and. I found this laptop once and I was like, Oh, this is so cool.

It’s only $29 I have to have it. It’s like bought this laptop and I installed, Ubuntu 14.04 on it, with a USB, and I would use it and I thought, Oh, well, if I have to install, if I have to have Linux, 

I guess I’m, I, well, I think my other machine was a Windows machine, like a Dell when this machine, I thought, well, I’m going to use this.

Linux machine from my Google Summer of code, cause this is all I can afford right now. And this is all I have. And when we said, okay, love, the first thing we could do during our first meeting is, is trying to make the, you know, the bill to get the bill up and running. And so the first thing I did was it failed because it was 32 bit.

My machine was starting my dollars and apparently it wasn’t, it wasn’t in the list of bills to install. GHGs and all that stuff with, if it was a 32 bit, so they had to update. We had, so that was the first poll request is, Oh, okay. And like, that’s, you know, we opened up issues and, and fix it, and then, okay, great.

Now it is building, but then it took like a day. I remember at one point in time, Chris could have seen this is ridiculous. He’s like, I will buy you. I will. He said at first he was trying to get me one of his friends to get me a laptop that is physically similar to me physically and then he said, that’s okay.

I’ll just buy a laptop. And I got a lot, I don’t know what it is, like if it’s like a Google thing or whatever, but it paired. He spoke about it in the morning. It appeared in the afternoon on my door. I didn’t want a magic pony, Google stuff. I don’t know.   and so I started working on it, but then,   as I was working with it, that one also failed over time because I think we missed, we underestimated how intensive GHCGS is.

So I think the screen eventually gave way on that one. And then,   Nadia from the Helium she has a sync Helium Grimes where she, she is like 700 people applied. And   I wrote it. I remember I wrote an application because they were talking about what we are going to do about this computer issue like this is taking days to build.

And they were talking about, I didn’t know yet that he was going to tell me he would buy me a laptop. So I applied for this Helium grant thing. It just kind of floated in my periphery and I said, okay, I’m gonna apply. And I wrote this application telling her that my solution for the Google Summer of Code, pair I’m putting together with my mentor would be to stick a video camera from one computer to another with duct tape.

Adam: Is that true? You are using one computer’s webcam to show the other screen? 

Krystal: Well, I had a lot of issues too, because we’re trying to screen share and care programs. And I think and run GHCGS. So the $29 computer is failing. First of all.   Hangouts were not as great as we thought it would be.

And,  she emails me and she said, either you’ve gotten one of the 11 grants that we are giving this year, which is like, I think she had like a thousand dollars with no strings attached. And when the helium grant came along, or I had a discussion with Gabe because I said, should I tell her that I had just gotten the computer they gave me?

And I said, should I tell her that I have a computer and that she could give the grants to somebody else who wants it, who deserves it? And he said, he said, you should just do the right thing and just be honest with her and it’s up to her to decide what to do. And so I told her and she said. I think you’re deserving of the grant so you can do whatever you want with the money. And then like a weekly turn, my laptop broke. So 

Adam: you got your $29 worth 

Krystal: It’s just strange how like back, there’s a certain kind of mentality that,  people don’t think of if you’re learning to code. And I’ve noticed that even in my school, most people here have Macs. So I know a lot of professors think that. Oh, you know, like everybody uses a Mac and I can’t help you if you don’t have a Ma or whatever. And,   but I went through this whole process of not being able to have those things. And so I’m really sensitive to,  trying to find ways to make things work.   regardless of, and it gave us, has been Davis really.

If they thought it was cool that I had this $29 laptop, they’re like, Oh, this is, they’re like, Oh, we love little, little machines like that. And, so it’s really nice that they didn’t snob me for saying like, Oh, why didn’t you cause everybody? Like, can you, even in Silicon Valley, when you join a company, the first thing they do is give you a brand new Mac or whatever to use.

And, so that was kind of trippy, you know, like coming from having a, like a flip phone. And at $20 laptop

Adam: after Google summer of code, Krystal’s still doing QA out of a software company, but she’s looking around to see what else is out there.

Getting Recruited

Krystal: So I remember, when I started to look at the manual testing shop, so there was a group of.

Of the group of us. It was so much fun like that. We had a lot of younger interns, a lot of us were in school and working there part-time. I turned nine hours a week and he was, I had these friends that I would go out to Denny’s for lunch with at that group, and late at night we’d order pizza, but the building would close at seven.

So we had this whole strategy where one person would go,   Collect the pizza and the other person wouldn’t keep the door open, the front door, and then the other person was standing in the office and, wait for the person to call so that they could call the elevator because the elevator would only go down.

And we had this whole thing. And like one time we thought we’re going to be stuck in the elevator with the pizza because the person in the office was not answering, hadn’t called the elevator yet. 

Adam: In the midst of this fun, Krystal gets contacted by a recruiter from Apple about a software job. 

Krystal  And this is the guy who was my recruiter is probably the best I’ve ever had.

I, he’s so nice, super thoughtful, and, I spoke with him and he kept, I was kind of weirded out by the fact that he kept going through the process at me cause I thought, okay, they’re going to tell me at some point in time I’m rejected. They CC’d me and told me that they were interested originally for full time.

Like they were interested in bringing me on a full time, but I was interested in an internship so I didn’t hear from them for about a month. And then I got another email and they said,   Well, we think, would he be interested in interviewing for this internship? And I said, okay. And the recruiter kept acting like he was engaged, but I thought, you know, he’s complete, I’m going to hire like some, I don’t know, like Ivy league, whatever person.

Cause I was in community college and working at a manual testing job, I’m the furthest away from. I did like a, like two, the initial and the two rounds of the interviews and no, they said they want to speak with me, so he kept asking me like, what date I want to start and, and 

Adam: that’s a good sign.

Krystal  You know, you never know because he’s like, Oh, he’s like, would you like the stuff for TNT? Like if it were to happen, like he, I knew he was kind of buying time on it. So I was Googling while I was working at a testing job, I was secretly also Googling. What does it mean when they tell you that? They have like the next steps, so whatever.

Even like, what does that mean? You know, I the whole trick about like, what if the email uses the rejection, if the phone, if they call you, it’s usually, to accept your kind of thing.   so he said he wants to speak with me and he said, Oh, the manager chose you and how’s I. I was like, are you serious?

I kept saying, and then after he ended the call and he was telling me all this stuff and asking me what time, well, they figured out when I found out later on that it was because he was trying to get the paperwork in order. He’s, you know, so he called me and he told me and he said, you know, you could tell your parents.

And I called them in Trinidad and my dad had said the same thing. He was like, Oh, are you serious? And so,   this is the first time. That having a green card that I was able to actually send in a letter of resignation. And I told them, I remember from my exit interview, they said, are you leaving?

Why are you leaving? And I said, for another job.   and then, the person interviewing me said. What’s the company name? And I told him, she’s like, Oh, you should’ve told me to put it on the exit survey. I mean, everybody was just really happy for me. And so we had like, we were really close-knit.

Landing a new Job at Apple

Adam: So Krystal started at Apple and she loved it. If she was most people, this would be the end of her story, but Krystal left Apple for grad school to do a Ph.D. in programming languages and data privacy. She left the Bay area for Vermont. This really surprised me. One thing like. How do I ask this one thing I don’t get? Okay, so you know, for a while you were, you were scrambling, I guess and then, and then, so you got a job at Apple. 

They paid a lot of money. They hand out stock with lunch as far as I know

what, but then you left. So like, you left to go to grad school-like. Like, you know, people talk about getting like a job at like Fang company. I’m pretty sure they’re one of the A’s. 

Krystal Yeah, so I was going through this thing with my manager and trying to figure out like what I could, because everybody goes through this thing where,   and there’s a guy at the manual testing shop that I did.   he was a senior, employee there, and he used to work for Microsoft and he said, when I was leaving, he said, wow, you sound just like how I was when I was going off to Microsoft. And I understand now what he means by that, which is that. Everybody has that moment when everything’s shiny, you know when it’s new and you walk on to campus like Google or whatever.

Like the first time, I went to Google IO and I just thought it was like, this is insane. Or, like the Google LA campus, like for the first time I went to Google LA and you know, you go there and you’re like, Oh, there’s this climbing wall and all this stuff and there’s like free food and we do this and.

You know, all this stuff for you. So I think I definitely had, I ate a lot when I was, I was so limited in terms of what I could do before, and I’m just going to like to eat as much as possible. I’d have a blast. 

What is Next to Learn?

Adam: I have like a pet theory. Right? So, like I think that you, like, you know, you were into film, but then you got interested in coding and, you know, all the way to Apple and then,   but I think that maybe what you really like is like learning things.

Krystal:  That’s very true. 

Adam: So it’s like you can, you know, you are now, you learned, you learned how to work as a software developer to a certain extent. Right? And you’re like, what’s the next thing to learn?

Krystal: That’s true. That’s a very good observation. I think that’s, that’s certainly, And I think that’s, that ties into my experience at, is the Hangouts monthly with the JPL, mass scientists. They have like a German JPL group where they just speak German and. Drink and eat your sausages. I’m like.. 

Adam: Oh yeah.

I used to just hang out with the people from NASA and we would eat sausages. I don’t know what that means. 

Krystal: So there’s this bar and Altadena, let’s go without seeing that yellow house. And a lot of master scientists hung out there, and one of my mentors works at JPL, so he would bring me there and we would all hang out and it was really fun.

And,   you just have German sausages even though I’m vegetarian and drink,   beer German beer and this speaking German. But, I think that seeing how, like their intuition about things, because a lot of those people had advanced degrees.   so I, I really, that really resonated 

Adam: with me, you know. What do you think it would be like if more people were like you,   and maybe being bolder at like, following like learning or following your interests?

Would things be different?

Krystal: I think that everybody would just be like 80 or so. People get frustrated with me because I get bored. It might seem if my brother were in, He was in our primary school, or his primary school was separated. We had boarded. So you have a board and a class next to you and you could see diagonally into the class ahead of you.

And,   his teacher discovered when he was little that he was learning material in the class diagonally, which is a year ahead because he was bored. So I think that,   So that happens a lot for me where I could get sidetracked because I just don’t think something’s as interesting. The one thing I did get out of the artists, especially those who switched from arts tech or from creative, the creative to tech, is that they’re, they’re more, they’re bolder, they’re more courageous, courageous in terms of taking risks.

And I wish that more engineers could like it. I think that’s what I like even from Trinidad, like being able to just find somebody’s email and have the guts to email them and say, Hey, I’m this kid. I want to know more about how you got to where you are going. I think people can be a little bit bolder and not accept a lot of software engineers who kind of accept things as the way they are.

Adam: I think that I’m like a serial learner. I guess maybe I’m always chasing shiny things, like, do you have any advice for people out there? Who likes yourself or maybe like myself?   you know, just really like to learn new things. 

Krystal: I think it’s with shedding, if you like to learn things, I think that’s a, I think that’s a gift. I think that’s not something that everybody has. My dad calls it a curse. Because it means that sometimes you might see things or be fascinated with things that other people think. They think it’s a useless thing to learn. I mean, not everybody is obsessed or necessarily wants to be a programmer because they want, they love learning things.

And that’s understandable. And I wished that I thought about the world, I dunno. I don’t think that you should have too many of those people because they might be anarchy work, but I think it’s a wonderful thing. I think people like you and our Slack, that group and all the other people that I’ve met along the way have made everything people who love to learn kind of find finding each other.

They’ve made it possible for people like me to be a part of the community. I like people who are a little bit rebellious or people who are kind of oddballs and,   because they do kind of make you think, think about things differently or,   just kind of, they basically don’t accept things as they are on the surface level. So I think, I don’t know, I think it’s worth pursuing. I don’t see anything wrong with people who like to learn. 

Adam: Have you ever been asked about a five-year plan? Myself, I don’t view my career as executing on some sort of five-year plan. I don’t even have one. I just get obsessed with something and kind of follow that interest.

I think there’s something about being passionate that makes learning even hard things seem easy. I think a lot of great careers are built on curiosity and obsession, including Krystals. All right. That was the show. I met Krystal through the Slack channel for the podcast. She has a thousand interesting stories.

I couldn’t fit them all in. If you jump on our Slack channel, she’s always there. She’s the one with the skeletal profile. We have a Friday thread of what you accomplished this week. And the answers are super eclectic. Today, there was a discussion about the math of origami as well as people just sharing fun side projects, which reminds me of one question I think I should end on.

What did you do this week?

Can you read your message today for them from the Slack thing? 

Krystal: Oh sure. 

Adam: So the question is, what did you accomplish or build or learn this week? 

Krystal: Yeah. Okay. What since you accomplished or built something, built or learned this week? And I said, I fell instead for the ICLR, which I did. I did two rounds for two different conferences of reviewing work for acceptance.

And I’m finishing up the last round for one conference this weekend, which is correct. So I attended two recruiting events. Part two is happening today, which I just finished. I did an exam. I worked on the research. I found out I was one of 20 people chosen for mentorship as a mentee program with someone in my research field of interest.

It’s a three-month thing and I write an article at the end that gets published and joins this amazing community. I applied for two grants and caught my first discord and bought Pokemon. 

Adam: Sounds like a busy week. Alright, Krystal, thank you again for your time.

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