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Career Library

Dream Big & Build Network: A Facebook Success Story to Vietnamese students

From a young man striving to find his place and success in a faraway land to now a highly potential employee at Facebook, Lan Nguyen (Lan Truong Ngoc Nguyen) and his mother (My Thi Kieu Tran) have shared with us an inspiring story about his entire development process to land a good job at one of the most reputable companies in the world. At the age of 22, it is admirable of how Lan Nguyen was able to secure a position as Facebook's software engineer right after he graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University. Recently, during an intimate talk, Lan - a quiet yet smart boy, has guided us through his incredible journey to Facebook with all of his sincerity and critical thoughts.

During his childhood, Lan has developed an early interest in computer since 8. When Mrs. My noticed how Lan spent a lot of his time on the computer, she did not support his hobby at first since she was afraid that computers might distract Lan from his studying. Nevertheless, when gradually realizing how passionate her son was in working with informatics assignments on his own, Mrs. My encouraged Lan to gain more technical expertise of the field by entering a good high school in the city. In fact, Lan succeeded to Le Hong Phong High School for the gifted (one of the most prestigious high schools in the nation) and started to pursue his passion in a more professional way from there.

Lan Nguyen gave his parents the very first tour at Facebook office in Silicon Valley
Lan Nguyen gave his parents the very first tour at Facebook office in Silicon Valley

So what were the reasons for Lan's decision to study and pursue his path in the United States?

Candidly, Lan shared with us: “From the beginning, I did not have any intention to study abroad. However, when realizing that the education system in Vietnam might not satisfy my expectations, I started to look for opportunities in other countries. More importantly, I believe my mother's attempts in discovering about American college experiences and benefits through various sources have largely incentivized me to put effort in applying to a U.S college.” Unfortunately, with limited financial conditions, Lan's family could not afford for all college fees needed although Lan himself has incredibly managed to achieve a full-ride scholarship from Ohio Wesleyan University (total worth of $94,000). With the love and support of a mother, Mrs. My tried hard to save up and made loans from a close friend to provide Lan with the best education. We were deeply touched by Mrs. My's enormous courage to invest in her son’s future as well as her wise decision to help Lan develop his path in the United States regardless of how risky it might be.

Certainly, Lan has encountered numerous challenges during his journey. Similar to other international students, Lan had to overcome the barrier of language and culture. Explicitly, Lan told us: “Ever since I came to the U.S, the worries about making friends and learning to be independent in every aspect has continuously grown bigger. I did not have a lot of friends because my personality is not sociable enough. For long, I know that my self-confidence is not sufficient enough to get connected to people around. Even worse, I used to had conflicts with my roommate due to culture differences during the first semester of freshman year.”

However, with the ambition to build his career in the U.S rather than returning home for work like others, Lan and his mom have constantly looking for a reliable career and soft skills training in America to accomplish his dream. Eventually, during the summer after freshman year, they came across and put their faith in a short-term career orientation & training established by a famous American mentor who had plenty of experiences delivering career skill sets to reputable business schools. From there, Linh Duong, a senior mentor & counselor of the program (now the CEO of Career Pass Institute (CPI)), had chance to gain more insights about Lan and was highly motivated to help him as he witnessed Mrs. My's great determination and sacrifice to invest for the best of her only child's future regardless of the family's background.

How the career training program has changed and shaped Lan into a confident and successful person today?

Though the program was ended for quite a long time ago, Lan still remembered how he was taught about creating networks and effective communication skills which are certainly his weaknesses. Furthermore, Lan also learned necessities in building a professional- standard resume and social profile such as LinkedIn that was customized for his industry. Just 3 days after the the training in New York, Lan expressed much excitement to his mom: “The program is very helpful and amazing, mom! I think I would definitely be able to secure an internship.”

After the end of the training sessions, Lan returned to his school and step by step apply the strategies obtained from the course to expand his network. Remarkably, Lan started to notice how he has transformed dramatically and was able to gradually remove his fear and hesitation in reaching out to new people. More importantly, Lan could not express how thankful he was to the mentor Linh Duong who has connected him to wonderful professors and successful individuals within the information technology industry. From then, Lan was referred to Facebook’s recruiting manager through a relationship he had with an employee and incredibly passed all 3 rounds of interview to finally became an official intern in two consecutive summers after his sophomore and junior year. Finally, in May, 2018, Lan was offered official position at one of Facebook offices located in Silicon Valley, California.

From the precious experiences and lessons learned through his “hat-trick” victory series at Facebook, Lan disclosed his 6 useful SUCCESS TIPS to help other Vietnamese college students utilize their potentials and gain competitive advantages among other job candidates:

  1. Never hesitate to reach out, expand, and maintain your own network day by day through various communication tactics early on.

  2. Grades are not everything! Focus on the technical skills of your major of interest. You want to make sure to grasp the core lessons of a lecture. Specifically, instead of simply memorizing the knowledge and solutions from professors, students should try to practice their own critical thinking in order to apply the materials to real-world problems. In other words, think outside of the box!

  3. Know what you want and where you will be going in the future as soon as possible. It might change but at least you know what you do not like early on in order to know what you might be passionate about later. It is the process of experiencing many things. Thanks to my early passion in computer science, I was able to sketch out my career plan sooner than most of my peers with my mother and strategically obtain valuable lessons from training courses.

  4. Key elements to my “little” success: the ability to be open to learning new things as well as from mistakes and the adaptability to new environment. Furthermore, it is also crucial that you must learn to take advice from the seniors and show progress. From my own story, it honestly was my quick adaptability and attempts to study from the supervisors that most likely granted me the official position at Facebook after my 2 summer internships.

  5. For anyone who will be going through an interview about technical/critical problems: Always talk out loud your thought process regardless of the validity of your solution and practice coding a lot and...a lot (laugh!)

  6. Last but not least, behind my success is the figure of a determined and courageous mother, who would go to any lengths to offer her child the best future. I know I can’t thank her enough.

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