paul le

It Costs Nothing to Ask

It costs nothing to ask.

These were words told to me by my father a few years ago, and since then, they have been constant theme in my life.

Those words stuck with me ever since. I am personally a very introverted person, and I used to be very shy growing up - I still am in some ways. But those words made me realize that I had nothing to lose or be afraid of for asking.

So I decided to ask. I went to an academic advisor, told them of my situation, and asked them if I had a chance at graduate school. They said no, and suggested that I do another degree from the beginning. That was not really the answer I was looking for, but at the same time it was the answer I was expecting.

I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. Every career path that I looked at required good grades, from further schooling, to getting a good job. Fortunately, there was some hope.

In my second year of studying astrophysics, I took a scientific computing course. I had never learned how to program before in my life. I struggled through that course - twice - but I found I really enjoyed programming, a lot.

Around that time, I had also attended a physics career event, where people who had done their degree in physics came to speak about their careers. One of the speakers had started a successful healthcare software company, who he is still the CEO for. This intrigued me, so after the talk I came up to him and I asked him many questions. He ended up giving me his business card, which I kept.

A few months after I graduated, I was applying for jobs in software development. None of them responded to my job applications. None of the graduate schools that I applied for accepted me.

I finally decided to reach out to the CEO that I had met a few years before at the physics career night event, and asked him if we could meet for coffee, and if I could maybe pick his brain, even for 10 minutes, to learn more about how he got into software. It costs nothing to ask, after all.

He actually responded, and said that they had a position open.

A month later, was hired as an integration analyst.

I somehow got a programming job at a software company that makes software for hospitals, with a physics degree. They didn’t even look at my transcript. As another bonus, I get to work with hospitals and other healthcare institutions, which makes my parents, very happy.

Since then, I took the chance that I was given, and worked hard to learn and improve. In under a year I was promoted to an Integration Consultant. I am already leading technical projects for our biggest clients, and I get to fly out all the time to meet our clients. I honestly feel like this is my dream job, that I didn’t even know it existed a year and a half ago.