I remember hearing the sharp sounds of static billowing from the second floor of our 2-story house. I listened carefully, dancing up the stairs towards an unfamiliar sound, where I found my brother, his back turned, staring directly into a computer monitor. Then there was silence.
“Welcome to America Online”.
That’s when my life changed forever.
We adopted AOL 1.5 into our lives sometime between 1994 and 1995.
My brother had accrued $200 on Prodigy (remember Prodigy?) and decided to sign up for AOL. From there, I got addicted and it happened fast. I signed up for names that I can no longer remember but I’m certain it had either a Sanrio or Winnie the Pooh character in it. For now let’s just say it was “Pochacco817”.
When I think back on my career, that was my turning point. I’ve had numerous thoughts about changing career paths earlier in my life but then again, I’ve had trouble committing to a bottle of shampoo.
From the age of 10 onwards, my timeline goes a little something like this:
The addiction to the internet begins. Thank you AOL 1.5.
After witnessing my brother play with shapes, I too started playing with shapes thanks to Photoshop 3.0.
I joined AsianAvenue and started blogging, while simultaneously signing up for Geocities so I could have a creative outlet for my newly found Photoshop skills (or lack thereof). I eventually, like most teenagers, ended up doing weird highly-saturated black and white self portraits like this:
My love for blogging and design led me to Xanga, where I had the flexibility of designing my own blog. Because of this, I learned HTML and CSS.
With 5 years of blogging, designing, and reckless coding under my belt, I was hired professionally to design and develop a website. It looked something like this:
After questioning my career path as a creative, I looked in to becoming an anesthesiologist, an architect, or a pharmacist. I was grasping for any idea that would gain acceptance from my critical asian parents.
With brand new clarity and a tiny rebellious streak, I decided to feed my existing love and knowledge of design and became an intern at a local Dallas design agency. After a few months and a lot of deliberation, I left college high and dry to gain real world experience.
At the end of the year, with a lot of reasons as my ammunition, I ventured off to New York City.
I gained enough experience and was able to land a job at R/GA, where I had a boss that trusted me so much he gave me work in a space I’ve never touched before: mobile design. That’s where I started doing things on Blackberry and Android before ever touching iOS.
After 5 years of designing for mobile, I can confidently say that this is what I want to be doing for the remainder of my life. I’ve talked a little about that here:
Mobile Design? Sure, Why Not
I want to wrap this up with one little nugget of advice for those who are young and seeking out career paths:
You might not get it right the first time but the key is to follow your passion and never give up.