Career Insight

12 Tips for School and Career Success from Kenzie Alum Tim La

To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Kenzie Academy met up with Tim La, a Kenzie alum who currently works as a Software Engineering Associate at Infosys. Tim has found professional success by being consistent, reliable, enthusiastic about tech, resourceful, growth-minded, and especially, a leader. Tim’s leadership philosophy is to “lead people to become better than expected” — and leadership is a special quality he adopted from his father.

Tim’s family is originally from China, and the war in China brought his grandparents to Vietnam from where his family immigrated to the United States. Tim’s father stepped up, led his brothers and sisters to a new country, and became the first member of his family to attend a university in America and abroad. Tim looked up to his father who inspired him to become a leader.

Along with being a leader, Tim has achieved many things in his early tech career so far, from being appointed team lead engineer as a newbie and working with a client in finance, an industry he’s always wanted to work in.

Prior to Kenzie, Tim graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in communication. Communication is broad, and he didn’t know what career path to pursue. He played around with coding and coached ping pong, but it wasn’t until he found Kenzie Academy when he started to grow a passion for tech. He enrolled in the 12-month software development program and his journey has led him to an exciting tech role for a global leader in digital services and consulting.

So, what advice does Tim have to give to those aspiring to build a strong career in tech?

Kenzie alum Tim La looking at view on balcony

Tips for School and Career Success

  • Allow Your Passion to Grow in Time

    Tim studied communication and loved playing ping pong. He was introduced to coding around age 18 but wasn’t too interested in it. Fast forward a couple years and he found Kenzie, which reintroduced him to coding and ignited a passion for tech. He enjoyed it and thought, I could actually do this. And so by consistently coding at Kenzie, he grew his passion for tech.

  • Be Consistent

    Consistency has been key for Tim. By being consistent from the very beginning and 365 days a year, Tim strengthened his coding skills and his confidence skyrocketed. Also, momentum can drop, and once you miss that one day of consistent work, it turns into two days, three days, and so on. Even putting in 1% of consistency daily can really add up.

  • Show Energy and Excitement

    Whether you’re preparing for your admissions call or a job interview, having the right mindset can make all the difference. You’ll resonate with the hiring manager by being energetic and excited about the opportunity to join the company. If you want them to be enthusiastic about hiring you, then you need to be enthusiastic about the prospect of getting the job!

  • Discover Your Ah Ha Moment

    Tim’s ah ha moment was during his capstone project while working on a workout app. He wasn’t as familiar with the BMI calculator used to measure body mass index as his classmate, but he was able to create the functionality. His ah ha moment was the ability to create a tool from someone else’s idea — and that’s something he would share during interviews.

  • Invest in the Job Searching Process

    Tim tweaked his resume at least 50 times, applied to around 200 companies, and always made sure to research the companies he was interested in and applied to. The job searching, interviewing, and hiring process isn’t easy for anyone. It takes time, patience, persistence, and perseverance to eventually get your foot in the door.

  • Be Reliable

    Tim is a reliable employee and team member. At Kenzie, he put in the hard work and his classmates appreciated it, which created positive collaborative relationships. Showing up and exceeding expectations also pays off. During an internship, he checked in every day on time. Because of his reliability, he was appointed team lead engineer.

  • Find an Industry You Love

    The beauty of working in the tech field is that you subsequently can work in an industry you love as well. There’s a need for tech talent across all industries. For example, you may develop programs and build web pages for a sports company or like Tim, work with a client in finance, an industry he’s always dreamed to be part of.

  • Stick to a Schedule

    Kenzie is a 100% online school and a growing number of technical jobs are remote as well. Whether you’re a Kenzie learner or working remotely, scheduling is essential and really helped Tim. He says you may think you have more time than you do, so creating and following a schedule will keep you on track, especially when something unexpected comes up.

  • Utilize All Your Resources

    Tim shared that he was grateful for the Kenzie staff — including coaches and facilitators — who gave him support and cheered him on. Sometimes, you need a leader who can help keep your momentum going. At Kenzie, there are so many resources available: the Admissions Counselors, Learner Success Advisors, Career Advisors, the Academic Team, and many more.

  • Be Open to Growth

    During the job interview process, Tim discovered a lot about himself. For instance, receiving multiple rejections was heartbreaking at times, but they were also a blessing in disguise and helped him build his character. Rejection and failure aren’t pleasant experiences, but they’re also opportunities for learning, self-exploration, growth, and resilience.

  • Talk to Classmates

    At Kenzie, you’re surrounded by amazing people who can uplift and inspire you. A piece of advice from Tim is to talk to your classmates — listening to their stories and struggles can help with your breakthroughs. The Kenzie Family is here for you! Learners and alums form friendships and bonds, share advice, and help one another out.

  • Remember, You Have Something to Offer

    While thinking about the future and impact Tim hopes to make, he wants to remind people: we all have different skill sets that we can bring to a project or that can make a company better. Non-tech skills, like consistency and communication, are valuable. Reflect on all the skills and attributes you possess that you could apply to a project or share with a hiring manager.

If you’re stuck and not sure what to do in your career, or wondering what a future in tech could look like for you, Kenzie Academy could be your next step. We’d love to talk to you about what you’re interested in or looking for, and how you could follow in Tim’s footsteps toward landing a job at a global tech company. Apply now and we’ll contact you soon!

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