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How A Hospitality Career Helped Me Dive Into Tech

“What is your career aspiration? Where do you want to be in five, or even 15, years from now? Because every career decision you make for yourself should always move you closer to that.” My mentor once again gives me advice as we sit for our monthly lunch appointments in one of the hotel’s restaurants.

For as long as I’ve known, at least up to this lunch, working in hotels has been all I dreamed of.

Hotels were always the coolest part of holidays: sightseeing? Who cares?! Check out my hotel pool and that room service menu! This was the world I wanted to be a part of. The joy and happiness I had from hotel experiences, I wanted to share that with others too.

With that passion, it was easy to apply and attend the top Hospitality Management University in Switzerland. That foundation transitioned me into a Corporate Management Trainee program in a  luxury hotel chain, which ultimately promoted me into a position of management, which led me to this lunch.

“Is this where you want to be? Spending family time in the service of others?” He would continue as I sat there silently.

He had a point. At this point in my career, I had missed birthdays and Christmas celebrations, and I was not feeling much satisfaction from the sacrifice. Can I really do this for 15 more years?

This specific lunch didn’t change it all for me. In fact, this “lunch” happened monthly, and every “lunch”, the advice would weigh down on me a little harder.

During this time, I was assigned a project that would have me work closely with IT personnel and software developers, and I was starting to be exposed to tech jargon such as “APIs”, “JSON”, and “SQL”. The more I learnt about new tech, the louder the advice got: “Every career decision you make for yourself should always move you closer.”

Taking the plunge into the abyss

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At this point, many of you must be thinking, “Aha! He now knows  what he wants to do now.”  But that’s where you’ll be wrong, but I was interested enough that I knew I was moving “closer” to it. And with that, I was off.

“In restless dreams, I walked alone”, Paul Simon would sing through Spotify to me as I was figuring out my next moves.

At this point, I had now quit my job without a solid plan and without guidance, no more mentor shouting advice at me, no advice at all, really. I was fully engulfed in the Sound of Silence.

The silence, or the void of advice, really did start to take its toll. Not knowing if what I was doing was “right” had left me questioning myself a lot.

“Am I learning the right things? How do I put different technologies together? Wait, how did they do that?”

As I continued with my journey I happened across a local coding boot camp, and as the theme would continue, in silence, I joined.

My time at the boot camp was actually pretty solid. I did learn about “APIs”, “JSON”, “SQL”, and more, of course, but learning the skills was only the start of the journey into software engineering. I graduated boot camp months later, ready to look for a job, but again, without advice or guidance.

This is when I first got in touch with Rocket Academy. Working with Kai Yuan, the CEO directly, was the first time I received workable advice on approaching the industry. I had personalised debriefings to understand how to improve in interviews and tests.

Being integrated into the Rocket Community is what changed my luck. No longer was I walking along, no longer was I not receiving feedback. Instead, I had found a group of friends, colleagues and peers to share experiences with. Up until now, I was focused on gaining the skillset, which, don’t get me wrong, is important, but I had forsaken the need for my own personal “network”.

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In restless dreams, I now walked with friends.

I landed my first job in software engineering and worked as a full-stack software developer on many projects for startups to multinational companies. As I progressed with my new career, I kept in touch with Rocket Academy.

I had always enjoyed the community at Rocket Academy, and if anything, count it as its most valuable offering. A coding boot camp providing coding knowledge is baseline, that goes without saying. A boot camp providing true guidance and sincere help in the career transition is something else. And wouldn’t you know it, one day I had the opportunity to join the team.

Rocketing forward

In hospitality, we often discuss the anticipation of needs by empathising with our customers. For example,  imagine you were taking a dip in that awesome hotel pool, and after a round, you decide to get out. Yes, there are towels stacked up on the side for self-service, but imagine if someone were to anticipate your need and be ready with a towel as you climb out of the pool.

Bootcamp students may not need towels, but they too have other needs. Working in Rocket, we go beyond just thinking about the base education for our students. The experience we have designed goes past “just” teaching the skills you need in tech, but we also anticipate the journey it would take to get you there and flourish.

We strive to build a lasting community beyond graduation, especially as we expand into Hong Kong and beyond. We also provide graduates with that network so they can conquer the software engineering world.

So as Rocket graduates swim through the giant pool that is the tech industry, Rocket Academy would be at the side, waiting to hand them that towel as they climb out of the pool.

Source: e27

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