YC Hackathon 8/3: some thoughts

YC DEMO DAYLast Sunday, I went to the YC Hackathon demo day event, and was impressed by so many talented young people (Yes, I am talking about teenagers..!)

  1. There are so many brilliant young kids in tech now. 

While I was there, I thought of the Fortune article discussing how Silicon Valley beats Wall Street. The YC Demo day scene proved that top young talents are entering into the tech world. As I remember, this trend started back in 2012, and became the norm in 2013. Until I was a senior at Berkeley (2011), ABC (Accounting, Banking and Consulting) was still the most popular career track among seniors. Especially, among business majors, getting into investment banking was considered highly glamorous. However, in 2013, when I visited Berkeley to meet some younger friends, I realized that students stopped talking about banking.  Instead, they were dying to get internships at Facebook or Twitter. At the YC Hackathon, I met many students from IVY league schools who came to the Bay Area for Summer Internships. They looked so fresh, smart and excited that I felt a little bit jealous! (And I felt super old, although I am still in my 20s.) It also made me believe that the tech bubble will not burst as long as we have these young talents.

  1. Silicon Valley offers tremendous opportunities for young kids. 

The Hackathon winner was a high school student from Cupertino. He created a tool kit that allows people to self-detect malaria infections using phone camera lenses. I was glad that he got the first place prize because he was developing something valuable, not a fun messaging app (sarcasm..!) When I was in high school, I never thought about learning how to code. I was really good at math and science but I didn’t envision myself building a career in those fields

Looking back, I think “What if I were a 17-year-old student? Would I become one of these high school hackers?” Well, I don’t know. But, for sure, I know that I will at least take an AP computer science class and try to learn. I am a firm believer that your environment actually has more impact on your decision making process than you might imagine. This comes from my long belief in nurture, not in nature. Try to remember the moments when you had to make academic or career decisions (choosing a major, finding an internship / first full time job out of college). You did not make the decision by yourself. You talked to your friends, family and mentors. You read articles and industry news to evaluate the opportunities. Nowadays, teenagers grow up with the iPhone, and live and breathe in tech. Parents are supportive when their kids prefer staying at home to code rather than going outside and hanging out with friends. Kids know that playing with their computers is not only fun but can also possibly make them uber-rich.

Going back to my point, it is the (almost) perfect timing to become a young techie 🙂

*Side notes: After writing this blog post, one thought came to my mind, “well, tech is great, more kids in tech is also great…. but, is it all rosy?” there should be some drawbacks. I cannot pin-point what it is. Possible drawbacks can be: kids getting less exercise or becoming anti-social, And less students majoring in English and history. I am not sure. Any thoughts? Please leave a comment & share your thoughts with me.


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