“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Someone(Not by Mark Twain as popularly perceived)

I love this quote. It described how I lived my life and how I want to continue with my life.

I came from a very small town in China (small towns in China still have 430,000 people and 512 square miles though). It’s tiny compared to those monstrous cities. It’s surrounded by mountains, so back when I was a child, it wasn’t very well connected to the outside world. There wasn’t even a supermarket until I was 10.

When I was 17, I left my hometown and went to the big city for college. I stayed there for 5 years including one year of work, and in case you are curious, I was an English major. The most technical thing we did with our computer was creating PowerPoint slides for presentations. You are maybe wondering how the hell did I become a software engineer now. Good question! Don’t worry. It’s all part of the story.

During college, I called myself a mini-merchant. I had been selling sheets, used books, school supplies, and a bunch of other random things around the campus. I was even interviewed by the city newspaper (it’s a monstrous city, remember?). Not because of how much money I made, but the idea I had about how to sell those things. This also led me to be on the blacklist of my college advisor, who thought it was absolutely terrible for a student to think about things other than studying. Anyways, I had LOTS of fun.

But by the time of graduation, I had no clue what I wanted to do, mainly because I wanted to do so many things. So I thought: ‘Screw it! Let fate make decisions for me.’ Three months before graduation, I got a phone call from one of those big international corporations. One week later, I started working as a technical support analyst. Still, no sign of coding whatsoever. That said, I loved my job, I was helping people by guiding them through complicated computer information systems. Soon I started imagining myself making these systems prettier and more user friendly. But I couldn’t, because I didn’t know how. Oh, doesn’t it suck when you want to do something but you can’t. So my journey of becoming a software engineer began with  taking the Toefl and GMAT, and completing papers and graduate program applications. Then I went to Baylor University where I received my Masters degree, and now I’m here, a full-stack javascript engineer. Did I make it seem too simple? It was definitely a challenge, but you see, once I figured out what I wanted in life, the rest just fell into place because I refused to settle for less. No matter how impossible it seemed, I wasn’t afraid, because I knew that’s what I wanted.

I have one more story to tell. I saved up about $2,000 before I quit my old job and traveled for 5 months through thousands of miles, across 4 countries. By the end of my trip I was so poor that I had to live in a monastery for a couple of weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which turned out to be an unforgettable experience. I had so much fun even though I can’t say it was a the most comfortable trip, considering that I only had $2000. Some day I’m going to do it again for sure, but next time it’ll be with more money.

Mike Herrmann

Author Mike Herrmann

After beginning his career in technology, Mike moved to Sydney in 2004 to start Bonza Bike Tours. His unique combination of experience in software development and tourism helped form the vision for TourConnect. While wearing out the airspace between the US and Australia, Mike has also become an expert in sleeping in uncomfortable chairs and B-grade movies.

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