Archive for Rosalie Chan

An Air Force veteran who taught himself to code explains how he started a nonprofit that has educated 250,000 other vets on how to get jobs in tech

Jerome Hardaway, founder of Vets Who Code and Air Force veteran
Jerome Hardaway, founder of Vets Who Code and Air Force veteran
  • Air Force veteran Jerome Hardaway left the military after five years of service in 2009 and had trouble finding the job.
  • The job market is already tough for veterans, and the recession further impacted the job market.
  • Hardaway taught himself how to code and was able to find a job, and he launched the nonprofit Vets Who Code to help other veterans do the same.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When Air Force veteran Jerome Hardaway left the military in 2009 after five years, he planned to transition to a civilian job after his service. However, he found that the recession's lingering impact on the economy meant that jobs were still scarce.

"It was very painful coming back to America," Hardaway, who's based in Nashville, told Business Insider.

People would say, "Thank you for your service," but not hire him, he explained. As he continued looking for jobs, he saw a commercial about a course for teaching people how to code.

While he didn't take the class — "There were really great resources I didn't have money for," Hardaway said — it inspired him to get a book on databases. From there, he taught himself SQL and eventually landed a job as a database analyst for the Department of Homeland Security in 2010.

Eventually, he started teaching himself other programming skills, too, including Ruby on Rails and JavaScript, as well as learning about open source software by reading project documentation and source code and contributing as a general member, finding the JavaScript community to be especially welcoming. He even had the opportunity in 2014 to train in web development at General Assembly.

"I'm an African American male in the south trying to get into a dominant white male industry," Hardaway said. "Before people look at my veteran status, I have that to overcome."

In 2014, while Hardaway was working as a digital marketing assistant for a nonprofit, he connected with a family who lost their son in a police shooting and built them a website where he told the young vet's story. Through this website, the family was able to raise $10,000, and the moving encounter spurred Hardaway to launch a new project:

Hardaway's nonprofit, Vets Who Code, focuses on teaching veterans the programming skills they need for software engineering jobs and it's completely free for veterans to participate. So far, the organization has helped over 250,000 veterans in 37 states learn how to be developers. 

Right now, Vets Who Code teaches languages like JavaScript, cloud technologies like Amazon Web Services, user experience design, GitHub, frameworks like React, and more, as well as less tangible skills, like what it takes to succeed in an engineering job.

Jerome Hardaway, founder of Vets Who Code and Air Force veteran
Jerome Hardaway, founder of Vets Who Code and Air Force veteran

The nonprofit aims to reduce job anxiety for veterans and take advantage of their skills 

While more than 250,000 military service members transition into the workforce each year according to Navy Federal, one of the greatest anxieties for veterans is being able to find a stable job that honors the skills and experiences they've gained from the military.

"The military trains you to be good at what the military needs you to be, not in regards to preparing you for the civilian sector," Hardaway said.

While in the Air Force, Hardaway served in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea and had duties in security, checking airplanes, and law enforcement. However, it wasn't easy to convey to how those skills could be useful in the larger job market.

While the military has programs that help veterans transition to going back to civilian life, Hardaway says they're not as effective as they should be, partly because they're run by people who have never fully transitioned to that life themselves. Unfortunately, it's all too common for veterans to "fall into these cracks," he said. 

Because of his own experience, though, Hardaway knows that many of the skills he learned can be directly applicable to software jobs.

"It has made me more of a go-getter, take initiative, and learn on my own, and of course, more discipline," Hardaway said. "It's helped me focus on the things that matter: learning how to write code, focusing on the things needed to be employed, teaching the veterans the same skills in my transition."

Read more: Everything you need to know about React, a project started at Facebook that now helps Twitter, Pinterest, and Asana keep their apps looking good and working great

For example, Hardaway says the military taught him to drill and adapt to new things faster – all of which helped him when he was learning to write code. In addition, veterans are used to teamwork and over-communicating as they did in the military, and these skills come into play when they work together on a software project.

That's why Vets Who Code puts an emphasis on coordinating group projects for its students:

"That's the true secret, making you a good worker, not just a good programmer," Hardaway said.

Ultimately, Hardaway said that his goal is to empower as many veterans as possible to get good jobs in tech, like he did:

"I'm hoping my sisters and brothers [in the military] don't have to deal with the hardships I had to deal with."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google Cloud’s revenue growth picked back up slightly in Q3, and it’s continuing to help drive Google’s strength overall

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian at Google Cloud Next 2019
Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian at Google Cloud Next 2019
  • Alphabet reported Thursday that Google Cloud generated $3.4 billion in revenue.
  • This represents a 45% increase from the same quarter last year.
  • Its growth also accelerated slightly, as last quarter Google Cloud saw a slight slowdown in growth, with a 43% year-over-year increase, versus 52% growth the quarter before. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google Cloud's growth showed slight acceleration again, as parent-company Alphabet reported cloud revenue of $3.4 billion in the third quarter, a 45% increase year-over-year. Last quarter, the unit reported only 43% growth from the previous year, which had been down from 52% growth in Q1. 

Alphabet's stock surged about 8% after hours on Thursday, reporting total revenue of $46.2 billion. Google CFO Ruth Porat said that growth was driven by "continued strength in Google Cloud," in addition to increase in advertiser spend on Search and YouTube, as well as growth in Google Play. 

"We remain focused on making the right investments to support long term sustainable value," Porat said in a statement.

While Google Cloud has lagged behind rivals Amazon Web Services and Microsoft in attracting large business customers, it's been investing in various strategies, such as making its cloud easier to use with multiple clouds, building solutions for specific industries like retail, being flexible in customer negotiations, and beefing up its leadership team.

Read more: Google Cloud partners explain all the ways that the search giant is getting more flexible, from letting customers reallocate their cloud resources to helping developers pay for their own sales and marketing pushes

It's also been working on building and developing partnerships – something that's been key to Microsoft's success. Google Cloud has said it aims to have partners involved in 100% of its new deals.

Do you work at Google Cloud? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], Signal at 646.376.6106, Telegram at @rosaliechan, or Twitter DM at @rosaliechan17. (PR pitches by email only, please.) Other types of secure messaging available upon request. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s how the CEO of Figma went from a computer science intern to the head of a $2 billion company that’s challenging Adobe for the love of designers across Silicon Valley

Dylan Field
Dylan Field, CEO and co-founder of Figma
  • The demand for user experience and product design in tech are growing, and apps like Instagram, Uber, Slack, TikTok, and even Starbucks have become popular largely because of their design.
  • Figma CEO Dylan Field launched the design software company to help teams better collaborate on their designs online.
  • The growth in design and cloud collaboration has helped propel Figma to a $2.05 billion valuation, and helping it take on giants like Adobe.
  • Here's how Field went from an intern at Flipboard to the CEO of an increasingly popular tool for designers to create and collaborate on the next generation of great-looking apps.
  • Because of his work, Business Insider named Field to our annual list of the 10 leaders transforming enterprise tech.
  • Visit Business Insider's Transforming Business homepage for more stories.

In 2013, Fortune Magazine's Brian O'Keefe reported that IBM had recently undergone a big change: It went from one designer for every 72 coders to 1 for every 8, in a bid to aggressively build better products.

That was welcome news for Dylan Field, who had the year prior started his company Figma, with a mission to help designers collaborate on their projects. When Figma first started up, Field privately feared that designers would be too small a market to go after, but IBM's big hiring spree proved to him that there was pent-up demand.

Now, Field says, users have become "spoiled" by well-designed apps like Instagram, Uber, Slack, TikTok, or any number of others, which are both more visually appealing and easier to use than anything found in the earlier days of the internet. In a crowded market, the apps that win are the ones that are the best-designed, he said.

"It's not enough to build something anymore," Field said. "We have to make sure the design is great. The entire world is becoming more digital now. As we're going through that transformation, the companies that are going to win are the ones that are best designed and have the best design practices."

Field — one of Business Insider's 10 people transforming the enterprise technology industry in 2020  —  sees that as an opportunity for Figma, which allows designers to create, share, and collaborate on their designs with its cloud-based software. Figma, now valued at $2.05 billion, has raised a total of $132.87 million, even as it places competitive pressure on leading incumbent Adobe and its Creative Cloud suite.

In April, it closed a $50 million round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, even as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in full force. Figma impressed investors with its revenue growth and major customer wins, including teams at Microsoft, Airbnb, GitHub, Square, Zoom, and Uber.

"The metrics mostly spoke for themselves," Field said of raising new funding in such turbulent times. "We're fortunate to show investors our metrics and have them get excited. The big thing is, it's a little weird, picking partners at a time when you can't meet in person." 

In fact, Field said that the pandemic has been a big moment for Figma and its future. Signups are spiking, and so is time spent with the tool, Field said, with people using Figma for everything from whiteboarding and diagramming to making slideshow presentations. It's even being used for art projects.

"We're seeing more people use Figma for things that are not necessarily interface design," he said. "That's the way we see ourselves long term. There are more products around visual communication."

Ultimately, the traction that Figma has seen is a reflection of the increased importance of design as a competitive advantage, Field said.

"People are switching their buying behaviors based on design," Field told Business Insider. "Companies are realizing that."

How Field went from intern to CEO

Field has been interested in design since middle school, but studied computer science at Brown. While still an undergraduate, he started to question if his plan to major in computer science and math was the right move, and so he took a semester off his junior year for a six-month internship at news-sharing service Flipboard.

He had interned in the software engineering department the previous summer, but that semester, he made the switch to product design. 

"They have an amazing design team," Field said. "People have gone on to do incredible things. As part of that internship, as I was going through it, I realized I wanted to work on these kinds of problems full time."

When he was 19, Field applied for and received a Thiel fellowship for entrepreneurs because he and cofounder Evan Wallace had been talking about starting a company. Originally, his pitch was focused on drones, but eventually his company concept morphed into what would become Figma.

"This is an amazing opportunity," Field said he remembers thinking. "Even if there's a 5% chance, we should take it."

A rocky path to debut

Even with the big idea in mind, it took a long time for Figma to actually become a reality. Founded in 2012, Figma didn't start actually shipping its software to beta users until 2015, with general availability taking another year. Even then, it was only in 2017 that it started offering a paid plan. As much as it was a journey just to start generating revenue, Field said, that long availability as a free product also helped it acquire its first customers.

"As word got around about that and realized it's more efficient, that's when we started to see the hypergrowth," he said.

Meanwhile, Field had a lot to learn about being a CEO, after only having ever been an intern. At one point early into Figma's existence, Field said he once faced the very real risk of an exodus of disaffected employees. He had to learn, quickly, how to be more open to feedback and to empower his teams, while also hiring experienced managers. 

"I didn't know how to manage effectively," he said. "I didn't know the basics around how to have good judgment around who to hire. When we were 10 people, I was a year into management. Usually if you are a new manager, you manage a few people. I was trying to do this at the same time and get the product to market."

Raising funding was a challenge for similar reasons. Field says that the Figma team wasn't clear enough in its pitch to investors about what the product is and what problems it can solve. A turning point came when John Lilly, investor with Greylock Partners, turned down the chance to invest in Figma's seed round.

"He said, 'I don't think you know what you're doing yet,'" Field said. "That was a wake up call for me."

Over time, Figma figured out its approach and refined its pitch. Lilly would go on to lead Figma's Series A funding round in December 2015.

Figma's goals in creation, collaboration, and community

Now, with its recent funding and increased customer traction, the next step is growth. Part of it means expanding its suite of tools for designers, including a recent focus on "design systems" — the industry term for reusable components like buttons and sliders that can be repurposed by different teams to keep an app design consistent.

"[An] app would have six different styles of buttons," Field said. "We're now seeing people trying to standardize more."

Other priorities include new tools to help designers hand off their projects to the software development team, and an expanded Figma Community for users to share features and templates.

In terms of its business, Figma is also working on staffing its team and eventually making acquisitions of smaller startups. These will likely be "acqui-hires," Field said, meaning that they will acquire certain companies as a speedy way to hire more employees.

"We're looking for people who are excited about Figma's mission and want to make a big impact," Field said. "It's much more on the talent side and can be across any sector."

All this can help Figma take on Adobe, which has itself been making greater efforts in improving designer collaboration. Customers have already been switching over from other design platforms like Abstract and InVision to Figma, said Forrester Principal Analyst Andrew Hogan.

There are areas where Adobe, as the incumbent, has some advantages: It has more advanced AI, and has features specifically geared toward helping marketers create and measure their campaigns. Still, while Adobe has certainly noticed Figma — to the point where it released its own similar XD tool — Hogan suggested that Figma's focus on app designers working on interfaces sets the two apart.

"There's a certain kind of designer that has a real love for Figma that they don't have for Adobe," Hogan told Business Insider. "Those folks are saying, maybe Adobe isn't the right fit for what I'm trying to do, but maybe Figma feels the correct fit. Figma has a love for interaction product design folks."

As for Field, he believes Figma's collaboration features are further ahead than its competitors, and set it apart. 

"[Adobe has] been the giants in the space for decades now," he said. "They understand that design and interface design is a key part of why people use their products. That's not a fight they're not willing to put up quietly."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s how the CEO of Figma went from a computer science intern to the head of a $2 billion company that’s challenging Adobe for the love of designers across Silicon Valley

Dylan Field
Dylan Field, CEO and co-founder of Figma
  • The demand for user experience and product design in tech are growing, and apps like Instagram, Uber, Slack, TikTok, and even Starbucks have become popular largely because of their design.
  • Figma CEO Dylan Field launched the design software company to help teams better collaborate on their designs online.
  • The growth in design and cloud collaboration has helped propel Figma to a $2.05 billion valuation, and helping it take on giants like Adobe.
  • Here's how Field went from an intern at Flipboard to the CEO of an increasingly popular tool for designers to create and collaborate on the next generation of great-looking apps.
  • Because of his work, Business Insider named Field to our annual list of the 10 leaders transforming enterprise tech.
  • Visit Business Insider's Transforming Business homepage for more stories.

In 2013, Fortune Magazine's Brian O'Keefe reported that IBM had recently undergone a big change: It went from one designer for every 72 coders to 1 for every 8, in a bid to aggressively build better products.

That was welcome news for Dylan Field, who had the year prior started his company Figma, with a mission to help designers collaborate on their projects. When Figma first started up, Field privately feared that designers would be too small a market to go after, but IBM's big hiring spree proved to him that there was pent-up demand.

Now, Field says, users have become "spoiled" by well-designed apps like Instagram, Uber, Slack, TikTok, or any number of others, which are both more visually appealing and easier to use than anything found in the earlier days of the internet. In a crowded market, the apps that win are the ones that are the best-designed, he said.

"It's not enough to build something anymore," Field said. "We have to make sure the design is great. The entire world is becoming more digital now. As we're going through that transformation, the companies that are going to win are the ones that are best designed and have the best design practices."

Field — one of Business Insider's 10 people transforming the enterprise technology industry in 2020  —  sees that as an opportunity for Figma, which allows designers to create, share, and collaborate on their designs with its cloud-based software. Figma, now valued at $2.05 billion, has raised a total of $132.87 million, even as it places competitive pressure on leading incumbent Adobe and its Creative Cloud suite.

In April, it closed a $50 million round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, even as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in full force. Figma impressed investors with its revenue growth and major customer wins, including teams at Microsoft, Airbnb, GitHub, Square, Zoom, and Uber.

"The metrics mostly spoke for themselves," Field said of raising new funding in such turbulent times. "We're fortunate to show investors our metrics and have them get excited. The big thing is, it's a little weird, picking partners at a time when you can't meet in person." 

In fact, Field said that the pandemic has been a big moment for Figma and its future. Signups are spiking, and so is time spent with the tool, Field said, with people using Figma for everything from whiteboarding and diagramming to making slideshow presentations. It's even being used for art projects.

"We're seeing more people use Figma for things that are not necessarily interface design," he said. "That's the way we see ourselves long term. There are more products around visual communication."

Ultimately, the traction that Figma has seen is a reflection of the increased importance of design as a competitive advantage, Field said.

"People are switching their buying behaviors based on design," Field told Business Insider. "Companies are realizing that."

How Field went from intern to CEO

Field has been interested in design since middle school, but studied computer science at Brown. While still an undergraduate, he started to question if his plan to major in computer science and math was the right move, and so he took a semester off his junior year for a six-month internship at news-sharing service Flipboard.

He had interned in the software engineering department the previous summer, but that semester, he made the switch to product design. 

"They have an amazing design team," Field said. "People have gone on to do incredible things. As part of that internship, as I was going through it, I realized I wanted to work on these kinds of problems full time."

When he was 19, Field applied for and received a Thiel fellowship for entrepreneurs because he and cofounder Evan Wallace had been talking about starting a company. Originally, his pitch was focused on drones, but eventually his company concept morphed into what would become Figma.

"This is an amazing opportunity," Field said he remembers thinking. "Even if there's a 5% chance, we should take it."

A rocky path to debut

Even with the big idea in mind, it took a long time for Figma to actually become a reality. Founded in 2012, Figma didn't start actually shipping its software to beta users until 2015, with general availability taking another year. Even then, it was only in 2017 that it started offering a paid plan. As much as it was a journey just to start generating revenue, Field said, that long availability as a free product also helped it acquire its first customers.

"As word got around about that and realized it's more efficient, that's when we started to see the hypergrowth," he said.

Meanwhile, Field had a lot to learn about being a CEO, after only having ever been an intern. At one point early into Figma's existence, Field said he once faced the very real risk of an exodus of disaffected employees. He had to learn, quickly, how to be more open to feedback and to empower his teams, while also hiring experienced managers. 

"I didn't know how to manage effectively," he said. "I didn't know the basics around how to have good judgment around who to hire. When we were 10 people, I was a year into management. Usually if you are a new manager, you manage a few people. I was trying to do this at the same time and get the product to market."

Raising funding was a challenge for similar reasons. Field says that the Figma team wasn't clear enough in its pitch to investors about what the product is and what problems it can solve. A turning point came when John Lilly, investor with Greylock Partners, turned down the chance to invest in Figma's seed round.

"He said, 'I don't think you know what you're doing yet,'" Field said. "That was a wake up call for me."

Over time, Figma figured out its approach and refined its pitch. Lilly would go on to lead Figma's Series A funding round in December 2015.

Figma's goals in creation, collaboration, and community

Now, with its recent funding and increased customer traction, the next step is growth. Part of it means expanding its suite of tools for designers, including a recent focus on "design systems" — the industry term for reusable components like buttons and sliders that can be repurposed by different teams to keep an app design consistent.

"[An] app would have six different styles of buttons," Field said. "We're now seeing people trying to standardize more."

Other priorities include new tools to help designers hand off their projects to the software development team, and an expanded Figma Community for users to share features and templates.

In terms of its business, Figma is also working on staffing its team and eventually making acquisitions of smaller startups. These will likely be "acqui-hires," Field said, meaning that they will acquire certain companies as a speedy way to hire more employees.

"We're looking for people who are excited about Figma's mission and want to make a big impact," Field said. "It's much more on the talent side and can be across any sector."

All this can help Figma take on Adobe, which has itself been making greater efforts in improving designer collaboration. Customers have already been switching over from other design platforms like Abstract and InVision to Figma, said Forrester Principal Analyst Andrew Hogan.

There are areas where Adobe, as the incumbent, has some advantages: It has more advanced AI, and has features specifically geared toward helping marketers create and measure their campaigns. Still, while Adobe has certainly noticed Figma — to the point where it released its own similar XD tool — Hogan suggested that Figma's focus on app designers working on interfaces sets the two apart.

"There's a certain kind of designer that has a real love for Figma that they don't have for Adobe," Hogan told Business Insider. "Those folks are saying, maybe Adobe isn't the right fit for what I'm trying to do, but maybe Figma feels the correct fit. Figma has a love for interaction product design folks."

As for Field, he believes Figma's collaboration features are further ahead than its competitors, and set it apart. 

"[Adobe has] been the giants in the space for decades now," he said. "They understand that design and interface design is a key part of why people use their products. That's not a fight they're not willing to put up quietly."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump’s ban on WeChat leaves many people, especially Chinese Americans, scrambling to find ways to stay in contact with loved ones in China

wechat ban trump order
President Trump's new executive order threatens Chinese app WeChat.
  • The US Commerce Department issued an order prohibiting downloads or updates to the Chinese messaging app WeChat starting on Sunday.
  • WeChat will also be rendered unusable to US users, as internet hosting services are disallowed from "enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the US."
  • For many Americans, particularly Chinese Americans, WeChat is their main way of keeping in touch with family and friends in China since apps like Facebook, Gmail, and WhatsApp are banned. The ban means they must scramble to find alternatives.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

For Robbie Li, who graduated from UC Berkeley a year ago and is now working at a tech startup, the Chinese messaging app WeChat is his only way of video chatting with his family in China, including his grandmother who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer about two months ago. 

But on Friday, the US Commerce Department issued an order stipulating that beginning on Sunday, WeChat will not only become unavailable to download and unable to process payments, it will also be rendered unusable for US users. The order prohibits internet hosting services from "enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the US." 

With this ban, Li says the thought of not being able to contact his grandmother is "painful and apprehensive to think about." In addition, downloads and payments on WeChat will also come to a halt.

"When my grandma was visiting my parents and staying with my mom in Shanghai, about two months ago, she felt this pain and took her to this screening," Li said. "Since then, I've been video chatting with her very frequently using WeChat."

In China, WeChat is an all-in-one app that combines a mix of features including social networking, payments, ride-sharing and more. 

For many people in the Chinese American community, WeChat is one of the few ways to keep in touch with loved ones in China, since apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Gmail are all banned in China. Friday's order by the Commerce Department means these US-based users must now scramble to find alternatives like using a VPN, email, phone or FaceTime in order to stay in touch with people in China.

WeChat has 3.3 million monthly active users in the US as of August, according to App Annie. And in the past week, WeChat saw between 3,700-4,000 downloads per day on iOS and Google Play, according to App Annie. 

According to the US government, WeChat. and TikTok could threaten national security because Chinese cloud providers can collect, store and process sensitive data from the US.

Tencent, WeChat's parent company, has said it will keep working with American officials to achieve a "long-term solution," and that the company "has always incorporated the highest standards of user privacy and data security." Already, the White House has banned transactions with WeChat, and WeChat has also been banned in India.

"Given the WeChat app version outside of China was already limited in functionality compared to the version inside China, from a pure tech perspective, it won't be an immense loss," Forrester senior analyst Jessica Liu told Business Insider. "However, for people using it to connect with friends globally and, specifically, within China, they will need to find another messaging app that can traverse China's firewall."

WeChat allows Chinese Americans to keep in touch with family and friends

Sam Wang, research scientist at Bridgestone Americas, says he and his niece spent an entire year teaching his nearly 70-year-old parents how to use smart phones and WeChat so they can keep in touch. His parents work as farmers in remote areas. Besides them, Wang uses WeChat to communicate with his parents, relatives, and friends in China.

"WeChat is the only app in their smartphones," Wang said. "They don't know any other app. It's going to affect us because we won't be able to communicate with my parents. I guess I have to go back to calling them on the phone. I can't use FaceTime because they're in a remote area and don't have good internet connection."

Wang says when he heard about the news, he talked with his parents immediately, and they're still not sure what they'll use in the future to stay in touch. Even if he finds another app that he and his parents can use, he says he'll likely lose touch with many of his friends. 

"For sure I'm going to lose all my childhood friends, high school friends, and college friends because we almost only use WeChat in China," Wang said. "I cannot force everyone to use different apps. I will find another app to communicate with my parents, but no way I will be able to communicate with other friends."

For many Chinese immigrants in the US, WeChat is also a haven for them to socialize, especially if they are unfamiliar with American social media apps like Facebook. 

For example, Lucy Wang, a high school senior in California and a Chinese immigrant, says she uses WeChat to keep in touch with her friends in extracurricular activities for Chinese students at her high school, which has a majority Asian American population. 

She says for many Chinese immigrant students, they have trouble fitting in and speaking English, but also adapting to American apps like Facebook since they've never used it. 

These clubs also rely on WeChat to do fundraisers, especially with people in the Chinese community. For now, she says that with her friends from high school, they'll likely switch to apps like QQ and Instagram. 

"Right now I'm using it to communicate with my club members who are usually having trouble with English," Lucy Wang said. "We have to teach them how to use American social media because of this new executive order."

WeChat has a popular translation feature

WeChat also has translation features that allow users to bridge the gap with Chinese speakers. For Sara Gaines, assistant director of student advancement at Case Western Reserve University, WeChat is the only way she can get updates on her father, who lives in China and has terminal cancer. 

On WeChat, there's a translation function that allows her to receive updates about her father and communicate with her stepmom, who speaks Chinese and doesn't know English.

"I have gone from OK, I've accepted that my father is dying, I'll be in touch with my family now that it's happening, but then I got this news today," Gaines said. "My first thought is my father is going to die and I'm not going to know when."

Gaines has notified her family about the news of the ban, but she's still waiting to hear back from them on other ways they can stay in contact. Since she heard about the news, she's been scrambling to find another way to speak to her family, as many popular apps in the US are banned in China, or don't have the same features. 

"My biggest question right now is how am I supposed to talk to my family," Gaines said. "I know there are other apps out there but this one has been the top app for a reason. It is the most functional, easiest for us to use. Again the translation feature has been key. While there are other apps, it's not quite the same."

Users are scrambling to find ways to stay in touch with contacts in China

Sam Wang acknowledges that WeChat sparks national security and data privacy problems, but at the same time, banning the app is especially hard on the Chinese American community. 

"There are some problems with WeChat," Wang said. "For sure like Facebook and Twitter, they also have their own problems, but banning this app is like Americans say, two wrongs don't make a right. I don't think this is the correct way to do it. This ban is especially hard on a lot of Chinese Americans. It cuts ties from a lot of friends and family. It's just really hard for us."

For Li, his grandma lives in a small village, and he says it's not realistic to ask her to buy an iPhone so that they can FaceTime. Still, he's heard of some people migrating to Telegraph while using a VPN or using email. Ultimately, he says that he and his family will probably "figure something out" to stay in touch, but he's worried about losing touch with his friends. 

"WeChat to this point has been a placeholder for all of my social connections to China, to a place where I lived for 16-17 years," Li said. "Now all of a sudden, all of that is going to evaporate. I have so many questions about the intentions behind this. Of course I've read about security and privacy and all these concerns, but as of right now, it seems like there's no way to communicate with people in China and from the United States."

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], Signal at 646.376.6106, Telegram at @rosaliechan, or Twitter DM at @rosaliechan17. (PR pitches by email only, please.) Other types of secure messaging available upon request. 

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A University of Washington graduate who landed a tech job at Starbucks shares his journey fighting for a computer science degree while battling cancer

Trey Tamaki, University of Washington graduate
Trey Tamaki graduated from the University of Washington this year. During his school years, he had to go through chemotherapy treatments.
  • While he was studying at the University of Washington, Trey Tamaki was diagnosed with cancer and had to take time off school for chemotherapy treatments and surgeries.
  • Tamaki meanwhile fell in love with computer science, but when he tried to declare it as a major, his advisor told him he most likely wouldn't get into the program because of his GPA.
  • Tamaki persevered however and graduated this year. He recently started his first job as an associate technical product manager at Starbucks.
  • Tamaki's journey is an inspiring story of using grit and determination to achieve goals. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Three weeks into his freshman year at the University of Washington, Trey Tamaki received news that would change his life.

Doctors diagnosed Tamaki with stage 2 testicular cancer, kicking off a treatment program that sent him through a hellish bout of chemotherapy and surgeries during college, forcing him to take periodic leaves of absence from school to recover. 

Meanwhile, while Tamaki was able to attend classes, he quickly fell in love with computer science and hoped to declare it as his major in his junior year. On during his junior year, an advisor dealt him an intellectual blow, telling him to choose another field, because his grades likely wouldn't be good enough. 

"Everyone told me it was going to be a nightmare," Tamaki told Business Insider. "I heard from a lot of people, 'It's so competitive to get into CS. It would be really hard to get in.'" 

But instead of giving up, Tamaki decided to double-down. Remembering what made him fall in love with computer science to begin with — "the idea of creating something new" — bolstered him to find another advisor and persevere through the program. This year, he graduated from the University of Washington with a computer science degree and is now proudly working as an associate technical product manager for the API and commerce platform team at Starbucks. 

Here's the story of how his tenacity and grit helped him achieve his dreams:

Tamaki had to balance coursework and treatment during his time at the University of Washington

When Tamaki first came to the University of Washington, he had no idea what he wanted to do once he graduated. He also had no programming experience to speak of. Before he had time to start sorting through those questions, he received his diagnosis. 

Tamaki had three chemotherapy treatments during his freshman year that consisted of one week in the hospital and two weeks out of the hospital — he had to drop out during his first quarter because he was missing too much school.  Those were "three pretty bad months," he said. 

By the end of the quarter, he started limping because of the chemotherapy's side effects.

When he returned to school in the second quarter, he took his first computer science course and it was a revelation: He knew that he wanted to pursue a career in CS. 

Still, the stress wasn't over. Tamaki had to get both of his hips replaced during his sophomore year, so he had to drop out for two quarters to get those surgeries done. 

Trey Tamaki chemotherapy
While Trey Tamaki was studying at the University of Washington, he had to have chemotherapy treatments.

Throughout this time, Tamaki often carried reduced course loads or took time off for health reasons, which also gave him fewer opportunities to join extracurricular activities or study groups. He experienced "chemo brain," where he felt "very foggy" and struggled with everyday tasks. Through it all, he continued to take computer science courses, but by his junior, he was still behind on some courses, like math.

It was at that point that his advisor told him that he couldn't declare the major because his GPA wasn't high enough, and gave him a list of other majors that he could choose instead.

The conversation made him cry. 

"I was a junior thinking, 'I worked so hard to get here,'" Tamaki said.

The base of the advisor's advice was sound: Tamaki really did have a minimal chance of being accepted into the program because of his grades. But the way that the advisor presented it — not as a stretch goal to shoot for anyway, but as a lost cause — is what irked Tamaki. 

"Anyone can frame it in a positive way or negative way," he said. "It lacked so much empathy."

Fortunately, Tamaki tapped another advisor who told him to write about his experiences in a personal statement and explain to the school why he deserved a spot in the computer science program despite his grades. Sure enough, he landed a spot in the program and graduated successfully. 

Tamaki says that he especially liked his classes on human-computer interaction, which studies how people use technology, as well as a class focused on accessibility. 

That one hit close to home in part because he had personal experience with disability. 

"There are ableist parts of society where we don't consider a lot of people with disabilities when we code," Tamaki said. "The normal person who codes is not thinking about how someone blind or with a physical disability interacts with a website. That was the one thing I found."

Trey Tamaki, associate technical product manager at Starbucks
Trey Tamaki, now an associate technical product manager at Starbucks, gives a talk about an accessibility project.

Tamaki now works on Starbucks' tech team and hopes to do more work in accessibility

During his junior and senior year, Tamaki interned at Starbucks in Seattle, where he was able to work on accessibility-related projects in the real world. For example, he worked with a product manager who focused on accessibility to test whether people with disabilities could fully access Starbucks' website, and make changes accordingly. 

After Tamaki's graduation, the firm offered him a job. Starbuck's focus on accessibility made working for the company so appealing, Tamaki says. For example, in June, Starbucks opened its first signing store in Japan, where staff use sign language to communicate with customers. 

Trey Tamaki, University of Washington graduate
Trey Tamaki graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in computer science in 2020.

This year, Tamaki also hit his four-year cancer remission date. There are still a few issues that he deals with: Chemotherapy impacted his lungs and mental health, and he's also immunocompromised. During the coronavirus pandemic, he's trying to be as careful as possible. 

"Something I've learned a lot is, remission isn't cured by any means," he said. "There's so many things I have to figure out."

Now that he's kicked off post-grad life at Starbucks, Tamaki also hopes to possibly get a master's degree in human computer interaction in the future, while maintaining a focus on accessibility. 

"If it can help some sort of people navigate their life easier, I will find a lot of joy in that," Tamaki said. "It could be just a small issue in terms of accessibility. It's pretty life changing. If it makes getting coffee easier for one person in terms of making them feel normal, it's a very gratifying situation for me."

Read the original article on Business Insider

A University of Washington graduate who landed a tech job at Starbucks shares his journey fighting for a computer science degree while battling cancer

Trey Tamaki, University of Washington graduate
Trey Tamaki graduated from the University of Washington this year. During his school years, he had to go through chemotherapy treatments.
  • While he was studying at the University of Washington, Trey Tamaki was diagnosed with cancer and had to take time off school for chemotherapy treatments and surgeries.
  • Tamaki meanwhile fell in love with computer science, but when he tried to declare it as a major, his advisor told him he most likely wouldn't get into the program because of his GPA.
  • Tamaki persevered however and graduated this year. He recently started his first job as an associate technical product manager at Starbucks.
  • Tamaki's journey is an inspiring story of using grit and determination to achieve goals. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Three weeks into his freshman year at the University of Washington, Trey Tamaki received news that would change his life.

Doctors diagnosed Tamaki with stage 2 testicular cancer, kicking off a treatment program that sent him through a hellish bout of chemotherapy and surgeries during college, forcing him to take periodic leaves of absence from school to recover. 

Meanwhile, while Tamaki was able to attend classes, he quickly fell in love with computer science and hoped to declare it as his major in his junior year. On during his junior year, an advisor dealt him an intellectual blow, telling him to choose another field, because his grades likely wouldn't be good enough. 

"Everyone told me it was going to be a nightmare," Tamaki told Business Insider. "I heard from a lot of people, 'It's so competitive to get into CS. It would be really hard to get in.'" 

But instead of giving up, Tamaki decided to double-down. Remembering what made him fall in love with computer science to begin with — "the idea of creating something new" — bolstered him to find another advisor and persevere through the program. This year, he graduated from the University of Washington with a computer science degree and is now proudly working as an associate technical product manager for the API and commerce platform team at Starbucks. 

Here's the story of how his tenacity and grit helped him achieve his dreams:

Tamaki had to balance coursework and treatment during his time at the University of Washington

When Tamaki first came to the University of Washington, he had no idea what he wanted to do once he graduated. He also had no programming experience to speak of. Before he had time to start sorting through those questions, he received his diagnosis. 

Tamaki had three chemotherapy treatments during his freshman year that consisted of one week in the hospital and two weeks out of the hospital — he had to drop out during his first quarter because he was missing too much school.  Those were "three pretty bad months," he said. 

By the end of the quarter, he started limping because of the chemotherapy's side effects.

When he returned to school in the second quarter, he took his first computer science course and it was a revelation: He knew that he wanted to pursue a career in CS. 

Still, the stress wasn't over. Tamaki had to get both of his hips replaced during his sophomore year, so he had to drop out for two quarters to get those surgeries done. 

Trey Tamaki chemotherapy
While Trey Tamaki was studying at the University of Washington, he had to have chemotherapy treatments.

Throughout this time, Tamaki often carried reduced course loads or took time off for health reasons, which also gave him fewer opportunities to join extracurricular activities or study groups. He experienced "chemo brain," where he felt "very foggy" and struggled with everyday tasks. Through it all, he continued to take computer science courses, but by his junior, he was still behind on some courses, like math.

It was at that point that his advisor told him that he couldn't declare the major because his GPA wasn't high enough, and gave him a list of other majors that he could choose instead.

The conversation made him cry. 

"I was a junior thinking, 'I worked so hard to get here,'" Tamaki said.

The base of the advisor's advice was sound: Tamaki really did have a minimal chance of being accepted into the program because of his grades. But the way that the advisor presented it — not as a stretch goal to shoot for anyway, but as a lost cause — is what irked Tamaki. 

"Anyone can frame it in a positive way or negative way," he said. "It lacked so much empathy."

Fortunately, Tamaki tapped another advisor who told him to write about his experiences in a personal statement and explain to the school why he deserved a spot in the computer science program despite his grades. Sure enough, he landed a spot in the program and graduated successfully. 

Tamaki says that he especially liked his classes on human-computer interaction, which studies how people use technology, as well as a class focused on accessibility. 

That one hit close to home in part because he had personal experience with disability. 

"There are ableist parts of society where we don't consider a lot of people with disabilities when we code," Tamaki said. "The normal person who codes is not thinking about how someone blind or with a physical disability interacts with a website. That was the one thing I found."

Trey Tamaki, associate technical product manager at Starbucks
Trey Tamaki, now an associate technical product manager at Starbucks, gives a talk about an accessibility project.

Tamaki now works on Starbucks' tech team and hopes to do more work in accessibility

During his junior and senior year, Tamaki interned at Starbucks in Seattle, where he was able to work on accessibility-related projects in the real world. For example, he worked with a product manager who focused on accessibility to test whether people with disabilities could fully access Starbucks' website, and make changes accordingly. 

After Tamaki's graduation, the firm offered him a job. Starbuck's focus on accessibility made working for the company so appealing, Tamaki says. For example, in June, Starbucks opened its first signing store in Japan, where staff use sign language to communicate with customers. 

Trey Tamaki, University of Washington graduate
Trey Tamaki graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in computer science in 2020.

This year, Tamaki also hit his four-year cancer remission date. There are still a few issues that he deals with: Chemotherapy impacted his lungs and mental health, and he's also immunocompromised. During the coronavirus pandemic, he's trying to be as careful as possible. 

"Something I've learned a lot is, remission isn't cured by any means," he said. "There's so many things I have to figure out."

Now that he's kicked off post-grad life at Starbucks, Tamaki also hopes to possibly get a master's degree in human computer interaction in the future, while maintaining a focus on accessibility. 

"If it can help some sort of people navigate their life easier, I will find a lot of joy in that," Tamaki said. "It could be just a small issue in terms of accessibility. It's pretty life changing. If it makes getting coffee easier for one person in terms of making them feel normal, it's a very gratifying situation for me."

Read the original article on Business Insider