Coding Bootcamp to Web Developer in Japan

Coding Bootcamp to Web Developer in Japan
April 10th, 2023

Eight Values interviews Tam Nguyen, Developer at amptalk. We cover going to a coding bootcamp, advice for coding bootcamp grads, working at a startup in Japan.


Moved to Japan from the United States in 2020. He has helped create web apps for a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and education. Focusing on the front-end, which is his specialty, he has worked as a full-stack engineer on products used globally in recent years for virtual currency and open source projects. He has a deep interest in solving technical problems that affect people every day through software.


  • (00:00) - Intro
  • (03:00) - Learning to program
  • (09:30) - Importance of soft skills
  • (12:15) - Advice for bootcamp grads
  • (17:16) - Interview process at amptalk
  • (18:30) - Why join amptalk?
  • (21:15) - Why do you like amptalk?
  • (27:00) - Focus on process
  • (36:30) - creating a life in japan


Ryohei Watanabe: Hello, this is Ryohei from Eight Values. Today, I will be talking with Tam Nguyen, a software engineer at amptalk. Tam, thanks for coming on, man.

Tam Nguyen Hey, thanks for having me, dude.

Ryohei Watanabe: So, Tam, we actually know each other outside of amptalk and today, because we went to the same coding bootcamp.

Tam Nguyen We're the senpai.

Ryohei Watanabe: I am the senpai of the Code Chrysalis squad.

Tam Nguyen Yeah, yeah. Single digits, single digits.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah, so I kind of want to start with the beginning of your tech career. So how did you begin your tech career?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, I started my tech career at the beginning of COVID. So that was definitely, I mean, COVID was a bad time for a lot of people as well. But, you know, I tried to change a bad thing into a good thing. So, yeah, my wife is Japanese and we decided to move to Tokyo. And, you know, for me to live in Tokyo, it was kind of either an English teaching job or software developing type of job. So I decided to go that route. So, yeah, I wanted to be an engineer because, yeah, English teaching is cool, but I don't think I'm really too much of a teacher. So, yeah, essentially that's what it was. And I spent like, what, three months Code Chrysalis? And then like, yeah, some time before that. But yeah, really at the start of COVID. Yeah, that's where it was.

Ryohei Watanabe: So what was the decision making process for, I guess, deciding on Tokyo? Were you considering other places to move to?

Tam Nguyen Mainly my wife, you know, because like family is like really important to her. I think like we're in the States for quite a bit of time. And I think she just missed her mom, missed her dad and stuff like that. So, yeah, we just made the move over here.

Ryohei Watanabe: Nice. And did you have any like doubts or fears about moving to Japan?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, for sure. You know, one, you can't even speak the language. Like, how am I going to order at the freaking McDonald's, man? You know what I'm saying? Yeah, I think I did have those types of like fears initially, but actually just coming in and like just seeing how like friendly everybody is. And it's just, it's quite easy. It's not like I'm going to live in France and then people are going to be jerks over there because I can't speak French, you know what I'm saying? So, no, it was not bad. It was cool.

Ryohei Watanabe: I really like how if you speak any kind of Japanese at all, you'll get like, you'll get like, Japanese is really good.

Tam Nguyen That's true. That's true. I don't even get that because I don't even open my mouth. I'm just like, I'm, you know, I look Asian. So if I act that way, they're going to definitely give me that business. So, yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: Did you have any challenges when you were like moving here in terms of like housing and stuff?

Tam Nguyen You know, I've been very lucky. Like, my wife's family took care of a lot of it. Everybody has been so friendly. Like the transition has been really smooth. So most likely, I'm probably going to live here for most of my life. So, yeah. Unless I get a job in America, but that's not going to happen.

Ryohei Watanabe: So, like, when you want to become a software engineer, like, this is like COVID time, right? How did you go about? like the first baby steps of learning how to program?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, so that was a really big career move, right? Learning how to code and really just like taking the dive. It was like asking a lot of questions with people who are already in the industry, asking a lot of questions with people who already like, they made the change to move over here. So, yeah, I think just Code Chrysalis, the school, like, you know, it was definitely a great opportunity to just like change like everything. I think I had a conversation with one of the previous people who had gone to the school. And I just asked him, you know, how was it? You know, really, like, did it impact you in a way? that is it worth the change, right? Because I'm about to change my whole life with my wife. And, you know, now I have a baby like a couple years later. But like at that time, like, you know, for the future, is this going to be like worth it? Because like, man, I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life. So, yeah, a lot of questions like, do I like it? Is it going to make me enough money? Can I grow with it? Those three questions probably were the primary like, you know, factors for me to make that move.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah. I mean, do you remember what those, what some of the people that you talked to said about, I guess, the program or about like going through Code Chrysalis, like when you were talking to people in the industry?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, I think for people who went through the school, yeah, it was a grind. But this is, you know, the experiences were different, right? Because prior to COVID, everybody was like in person. When COVID happened, it was just like, oh, dude, survival remote. Like, you know, we just got to get it done, you know, whatever, whatever it takes. So, yeah, I mean, I think it was primarily like, you're going to have a good time. It's going to be challenging. And you might cry, you know, I mean, it might just be really tough. You know, you might, you know, it just whatever the circumstances were. But, you know, at the same time, I realized I enjoyed it, you know, because it was like something that was different from the past of what I used to do. And so like for me, yeah, man, it was very nice just to code things out creatively. Like, it's like a lot logical creativity. So you're creating something, but it's just like, you know, it's like mathematical in a sense.

Ryohei Watanabe: And was there like a particular like field or technology that you liked that you learned while at Code Chrysalis? I was like, hey, like some people like more backend stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tam Nguyen You know, it's tough to say because like it's such a rush. It's such a quick thing. Like you touch like so many different pieces of the front end and the backend and you're just like, okay, I kind of like this. And I think I'll be good at this. But then you don't really know until you actually get into the industry. And then when you get into the industry, then you have like the people who've been in it, like they really teach you like, okay, hey, man, these are the best standards. Or this is like what would you know, depending on your type of the type of company you're working for will definitely change your perception and the experiences like how you look at engineering.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah, for sure.

Tam Nguyen Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: And I think one of the things about Code Chris Ellis that I think has really surprised me is like the alumni network just grows and grows and grows. Oh, for sure. And like the people that were like just starting out like, you know, like early in Code Chris Ellis are now like getting more senior at like a bunch of different companies. Right. And so like, like while there's like more people coming into the Slack and stuff like everyone that like was like CC one through, let's say five or like they're like kind of slowly moving in. Right. And so like there's like a lot of connections there as well.

Tam Nguyen Yeah. Yeah. I want to hit up Bill. Bill from CC one, bro. Yeah. Hit me up, man. If you watch this, yo, hit me up. Just kidding. I'm just messaging him on Slack later.

Ryohei Watanabe: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And so I guess how was it adjusting to, I guess, the the job, you know, because like I feel like it becomes one thing like for sure, right? It's you know, you learn a bunch of new stuff and you mean a lot of cool people. But like when it comes to work, I feel like it's like there's a lot more to learn. You know, it's like just the start. You don't like learn everything about software development in like three months. You know, it's just like it's the start.

Tam Nguyen It's the start.

Ryohei Watanabe: How was the transition for you like to like the industry?

Tam Nguyen Transition was. Yeah. So, you know, start of COVID. Now it's like a couple months into it. And, you know, it was I have to say, like, I was desperate. So my first job was like, you know, it was cool as a dev agency. So they churned out a lot of code for like different different places like websites, companies and landing pages, things like that. And so for there it was a lot of fun. And at Code Crystal, I was really bad at CSS. So that was kind of like my weak point. But through that particular first time, that job that I was like became much more proficient and I learned a lot. Bunch of best practices and things like that. Yeah. You know, it's definitely a learning curve. It's just nice that whenever you start, it's always nice to have a mentor. Sure. I think when you join a company, whoever that person may be, it's always. it's always nice because I feel that what's different between like certain careers and paths may take. Like sometimes it's a solo thing. You know, you don't really have a mentor. You know, you just have like if you're an entrepreneur or something, right. You just use learning as you go. Maybe you have those experiences that will like, you know, shape you or something, but you don't actually have somebody in engineering. You always have somebody a little bit more senior than you or somebody you may talk to. And they'll always kind of lead you towards the better path, whichever, you know, may be easier for you to code. And I think that's what I learned through the first job. Yeah. Just knowing that, oh, man, there's there are people who know what's up. And so I can just ask them. They can tell me and I can just level up like. this is very straightforward. You know, it's nice. You know, it's like I'm not I'm not trying to recreate the whole damn wheel, you know, just like a homies. that, you know, people just let me know.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah. So, yeah, I have my first job. That person was Shunji.

Tam Nguyen Oh, yeah. That was Shunji for me. Yeah. He's a smart dude, man.

Ryohei Watanabe: So how did you after that, the Dev Agency, how did you end up learning about amptalk?

Tam Nguyen Yeah. So, yeah, funny story. So I tried to apply to restart. I know you guys used to work all day. And I just kept in touch with Shunji. So I told him, like, oh, yeah, you know, thanks for interviewing me and things like that. And I was just really cordial and he was cordial back. And we just just kept that connection. I think a year later, he hit me up and like, it was like, yo, are you looking for something? I know you're working with like you and things like that. And I'm like, yeah, I am. I am looking for something. So I just made the switch from there. And then everybody in the company has been really nice to me about it. Yeah. Yeah. It was. it was just a different type of experience I was looking for. I think because primarily before it was just I was making a lot of different code. Like I was doing a lot of code for like websites and like things, maybe some back end, some like Web3. And like all this, all the technologies here is just focused on one product. So maintaining that one product is much different for coding for many different things. So I was looking for that experience. I was like, OK, I want I want something that I can just focus on one thing. And how do they maintain it over a long period of time? And how? how does that like when people change like the requirements and things like that, product and things. Yeah. What does that look like? Because I don't know what that looks like. I really like I can think about what it looks like. I really want to know. I really want to take that dive. And that's why I did for amptalk.

Ryohei Watanabe: Nice. I think when I hear about the story of how you got to know about amptalk, it sounds like it wasn't even like the technical ability, but it was like your personality and like your like networking or like just like being cordial. It's like I guess the soft skills aspect of it that like I know brought you here. Yeah. Which is like kind of crazy, right? Yeah.

Tam Nguyen I mean, it's funny that you say that. I feel like in engineering, I think many job markets, right? Like being able to make a good first impression, being able to just know people. I think that that goes a long way because like people can only have so much time for, you know, going through papers and people and things like that. And I think like my approach to that, like job hunting, like, yeah, it's like I want you guys to see my face. I want you guys to know who I am, but put a label on me, but not like something that you just put on paper.

Ryohei Watanabe: Sure. Sure.

Tam Nguyen Sure. So that was the impact I wanted to have when I just talked to people in general. And I think that, yeah, maybe that approach is like not so common for some other people. I think they think like, oh, OK, it's just like a one way, you know, linear thing. But life isn't linear. So, you know, sometimes you got to like break out of the mold to do different things.

Ryohei Watanabe: You don't have to be the perfect person to ask about this. But I mean, do you have any advice for, I guess, the boot camp grads that are, I guess, graduating nowadays? How about like how to find that first and second job and how to go about being the kind of person that can get those jobs?

Tam Nguyen Yeah. You know, you got to be. you got to have some thick skin, thick skin. You have to be willing to be willing to take like a. how should I say this? It's like you want to be out there to meet people and you know that your situation may not be the best. And just won't be available because you can't assume that, you know, people are going to look at you a certain way or something. You know, you just have to just throw your your best effort and just a good vibe and then just let things happen. You know, be in a good position. Right. Networking, knowing like where like, oh, maybe this company just kind of listening around, just talking to people. Yeah. Using connections, all your connections, you know. Yeah. Yeah. I would say just like, yeah. Ask your alumni. If you're from Code Crystal, just ask your alumni for help and stuff. Sometimes they may help. Sometimes they may not. Just depending on the circumstances. Right. So, yeah, that's how I feel about like how I approach like anything. If I really don't know it, like I just, you know, ask, ask around and just kind of go from there. Go to events. Yeah. Go to events. Network.

Ryohei Watanabe: Network.

Tam Nguyen Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: Could you talk a little bit about I guess your current role now at amptalk and I guess what you do kind of daily here? Sure.

Tam Nguyen Sure, sure, sure. At amptalk. Yeah. So I'm a full stack engineer, but I primarily lean towards the front end. And what's great is that, you know, we touch it's all JavaScript. So Node in the back end, view in the front end and serverless AWS. Yeah, it's it's great. I mean, I do everything. So, but like I said, like I have mentors here at amptalk. I know much more than me. I can introduce me to like different books and things like that. Best practices. So, yeah, it's great.

Ryohei Watanabe: And do you describe a typical week of amptalk software engineer?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, yeah, yeah. A typical week is like we have a couple of days meetings. So like on Monday we'll have a like a backlog meeting or something like that. We'll talk about what we did. And then, yeah, just coding by myself. You know, if I need help, just hit somebody up on Slack or just do a quick huddle on Slack and then go through that feature. Send a small PR each day. Just very incrementally like building out the feature rather than like a whole like, you know, I'm building this whole big thing and then, you know, dump it in that one day. It would be horrible for reviewers. But here it's just like very incremental. Yeah. So it's nice. It's very, I would say very peaceful, very nice. And like, you know, you already know what your day is. It's just like every single day, very similar. And you have space to learn. So it's great.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah. I think every every engineer learns that on their first job is make smaller pull requests.

Tam Nguyen Make smaller pull requests. Because like your implementation may not be the most correct way. So if you do like a whole big PR and then like they're just like, yo, I don't think your logic here is working here and this logic is working here. So we got to. we got to break it down and takes everybody's time. So yeah, just do a small. But I would say it depends on the company. So certain companies, they may like big pull requests. And it's kind of like I would run away from those companies because now I know that, you know, sometimes that type of work environment is not like the best for that. So at least not for the best for calm mental state of programming because you can get really hairy quite quickly.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah. Yeah. It might be those kinds of places where I guess they might have like awesome tests, but you release on Friday and then you're on call on Saturday. Yeah, man. You got to stick around.

Tam Nguyen I get really scared. No, I don't want to be that person. I'm trying to live my life, man. Code and live my life.

Ryohei Watanabe: For the people that don't know, how would you describe Amtox product?

Tam Nguyen Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: What's like the 30 second pitch?

Tam Nguyen I mean, I'm not the best person to ask. I mean, I develop it. But like, essentially, we are like a hub for sales, like sales and aim-ablement. So people who are making calls through Zoom or phone calls and things like that will record it, transcribe it. And then your managers or, you know, you yourself can review it and take a look at like, OK, at what point in the process was like, did I do a good job or not? and stuff like that. So it's more like a sales enablement. That's the short word for it.

Ryohei Watanabe: And you said that, I guess, Shunji, one of the software engineers here at Amtox, I think, asked you because you had kept in touch, if you were available for an open position. Did you go through like the formal interview process with Amtox? Could you tell me a little bit about how you displayed your good traits within the interview process here?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, let me think back on it. Yeah, I think it was. the interview process was like meeting in person, live coding together and also like lunch to see like, you know, if I vibe with the team and not. And yeah, it was cool. Everybody's books speaks English here. So everyone's really friendly. And just told my story, told them what I was looking for, essentially, like, you know, what type of experiences was I trying to go for? Because, yeah, very different experiences from coding from a small dev agency, coding out for like many different companies and stuff like that. So, yeah, it worked out. Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: And I guess what were you looking for? Other than like, so you want it to be, I guess, from a dev agency to an in-house product, right? Like something that's like, primarily technical. Was there anything else you were looking for?

Tam Nguyen Growth. Because like, you know, you can spend a lot of time not doing the right thing and then you wouldn't even know it. You know what I'm saying? Like, because like you're so used to doing things in a certain way that you don't know that there might be a better way to do things. And, you know, I'm definitely guilty of that. And I just knew that, okay, I need a breakout of this somehow. So, yeah, that's essentially just looking for better ways of doing the same things.

Ryohei Watanabe: And I guess, are you now involved doing the interviews for potential candidates for software engineers now?

Tam Nguyen I'm currently not. Yeah. I'm currently not. I mean, they do like talk about it with me. Like, oh, there might be somebody joining or like, you know, may have like some like front end or back end and those types of things. But no, I'm not part of the interview process right now.

Ryohei Watanabe: Can you like speak about the overall X company culture or environment at amptalk? Like, I guess in your own words, how would you describe what this place is like?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, it's a place where they want you to be your best self. They're not trying to push you to be like one way or another. But essentially, like, you know, what do you like? And like, just go for it. They give you that freedom to just do that. So they're not trying to mold you into anything. But if you already have like good character and like you're just really looking to like improve or you're looking to contribute in a way that's like, OK, we're missing this. So, you know, we need it. And they give you that space. You know, they don't try to like question. They don't try to like question in a way that would make you like undermine your decision making. But more like, OK, let's logically and think through these things like, you know, what problem are we solving? You know, yeah. So lots of space, lots of space. But at the same time, they're willing to help if they want to.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah. I was talking to, I guess, Keita-san earlier today. And like he said the exact same thing.

Tam Nguyen Oh, really?

Ryohei Watanabe: When he tries to give feedback or is like talking with any software engineer, it's like it's not so much like do this, do that. It's more like, OK, like, let's talk about it. Like, let's discuss. Yeah. And like, it's like really interesting that you say that as well. Why do you enjoy working at amptalk? I mean, it's the same question rephrased.

Tam Nguyen Yeah. Yeah. It's peaceful. Yeah. It's peaceful. Like, I'm not stressed out. I think that that's the biggest thing. Like everybody is so friendly. Like, I don't have to worry about politics. That's the feeling. Like, I really don't have to worry about like, oh, you know, do I have to act or have to do a certain thing? Do I have to like, you know, persuade somebody in a certain way? It's more like, you know, we have that space where we're like, OK, you make a mistake. You know, you made a mistake, but we're not going to like, you know, grind you out for it. So I think like having that type of like safety net is definitely a great peace of mind. And then it allows me to just do whatever I need to do and also what I want to do. So I think like that is really great. I think my prior career path and things like those types of things is like really stressful. So that the whole change was like, OK, to live my life happier so I can have just enough money for my family and stuff like that. I really need to be in a position where it's like, OK, got the time. I'm being effective, growth, everything's like, you know, leveling up. But we know we're not trying to hustle. You know, like I'm just peace, piece by piece, laying foundations, laying foundations.

Ryohei Watanabe: It sounds like, I guess, if you wanted to be at it for a long time, right, as opposed to like, I don't know, extreme stress and extreme growth. And like you say, a three month, six month process. If you want to be in it for the long term, you would want this kind of place where you can consistently get better. Over like years as opposed to like, you know, burnout in six months.

Tam Nguyen Burnout is quite real. Engineering burnout is like, you know, you can really code a whole bunch and then not see the light of day and then you get a product out. But then maybe you're looking for a certain type of feedback or just, you know, how you feel through that grind process. Because like, I feel that life is a journey, right? As you're like going through many different things, trying to achieve certain results that, you know, you always think back prior. Like, you know, how did I get to this point? You know, did I really enjoy it? Was it worth it? Was it really worth it? And so like, part of that is like, on my mind. And so that's why I kind of choose in this path. And I was like, okay, let's chill out a little bit and then progressively get better. But I mean, it just depends on what part of your life you're at. Yeah. So I think that's where I'm at.

Ryohei Watanabe: When you think about the TAM that entered amptalk a few years ago and then the like now. What do you think has been the biggest change for you?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, biggest change? Like, I'm not so eager to code. Like, I'm eager to think it through. Like, think it out and like really lay out like the game plan. Because I think like, for instance, when you start, you just want to prove yourself. Like, you just want to be like, yo, I can code. I can do this.

Ryohei Watanabe: Don't tell me I can't do it.

Tam Nguyen I can do it. Let me grind something out. And so like, nowadays, I try to step back and just be like, okay, let's think through this problem first. And then try to architect it in a way that it's like, okay, this will solve these particular problems. And we can do it in the progressively next scalable way rather than just like, okay, let's do a hot fix for this particular, you know, let's hard code some values. Let's do something and let's survive another day. Like, yeah, that's like a very two different mindsets, right? Yeah. So, yeah, very, very that's the difference I would say. Like, now I'm in this like more calm Zen place.

Ryohei Watanabe: Sure. I think like whenever a newer software engineer joins a company, I think there's a lot of like, hey, man, I can code. I want to like prove myself. And then there's also like a wise Yoda there that says, hey, man, you're going to burn out. Just relax. Just chill, man. Just feel good.

Tam Nguyen Yeah, yeah, good. You'll be all right. But you're like, no, I got to prove myself though. No, you don't understand. But it's like, no, you got to chill out. It's going to be there tomorrow. It's not going to change, bro.

Ryohei Watanabe: Can you talk a little bit about, Mike, other than salary, like what are the benefits of working at amptalk? Like what would you tell a friend of yours that was thinking of applying?

Tam Nguyen Yeah, I would say it like if you're really looking to like grow in your software career, in your engineering life, like what type of engineer you really want to be, because sometimes like the situation dictates what you're going to do. Right. Like if you join a company and they're like, you know, everything's on fire. We got to we got to like put these fires out. That's going to dictate like how you grow. You know, I think at amptalk, we're like, OK, we're you know, everything's quite cool where everything's kind of handled. that, you know, if you want to specialize in something or you want to like focus in like some type of like growth in a particular area of software engineering. I think that's the reason why you would join, because it gives you that space, gives you that room. And also, you know, I feel that the team itself, we're so good that, you know, any of us can take care of it. You know, there's no danger days where we were just like, oh, this person's missing. We need to shoot. We're done. You know, and there's a lot of places like that, you know, a lot of companies like that. And, you know, you can't escape that. But if you take the time to like prepare architect and like, you know, really set those things out, then you don't have to worry. I mean, because those things, those practices, those habits, those things are there that consistently make a company good. Sure.

Ryohei Watanabe: You know, one of the striking things about talking to everybody here today was actually I think the shared importance of like just like scoping or like problem decomposition. I don't know what the name would be, but that's the practice of it.

Tam Nguyen I don't know the exact name either. But it's just like scoping down the issues. Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah. I feel like everybody that I've talked to today has talked about scoping in some sort of way. And like this seems to be like everyone treats it like it's very important.

Tam Nguyen Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: Is there anything else that everyone treats is very important in the same way as, let's say, scoping?

Tam Nguyen I think that's the biggest thing, because we're big on processes. Yeah. Big on processes, because like, you know, when anybody makes a mistake or anything goes wrong, it's more of the process rather than the actual individual or something like that. You know, and so here we tend to just like look at the processes over and over again to make sure that it's all good. Because, you know, at the end of the day, we're all human, man. You know, some bad stuff is going to happen sometime eventually. But here we have the comfort of knowing that, you know, dude, it's okay. You can be human. You can make those mistakes and, you know, tomorrow it's going to be a good day. Yeah. You know, it's all good. Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah. It's quite funny. Every single person has also talked about process as well. This seems to me like, I guess what you would call a culture, like what you would call something that everyone like equally feels is important. Yeah. Well, like when you first came to amptalk, did the company culture align with your own? And like, is that why you chose to join amptalk or was there other like or has it changed over time?

Tam Nguyen I think like in the beginning, I was really more focused on just the product, maintaining one product. Right. But then over time, it became more about like the value system was like, oh, wow, we all have a shared. We all were looking to grow essentially. And, you know, maybe there's some stake here or there or like some processes bumps in the road. But everybody's willing to take ownership in a way that it's like, we're not going to make you feel bad about we're just we're all going to try to be better. You know, like it's not just one person. And so I think we all have a shared understanding that, you know, don't worry about it. It's not going to be like your fault, his fault, whatever that case may be. But it's just like, OK, because we have these processes and because these value systems that are like maintaining our company culture and the individuals to individuals as well. And yeah, it's been helpful. You know, I don't really think about it anymore like that. You know, it's just ingrained into like how I work. that it's like, wow, I don't know if I want to work a different way because like I could grind it out. I could do all these things. But it's just like, is that the better way for me? You know, personally, personally. Yeah. Because I know other people, of course, will have different opinions and depending on the point in their lives. Right. So sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: I guess it's like a warm cup of tea. It just feels right.

Tam Nguyen Yeah. You know, sometimes it just fits like a glove. You know, it's just saying, you know, sometimes it's like that, you know. I'm not saying like, you know, they're definitely. it's not perfect, of course. But at the same time, like everybody's willing to like work together. I think that's the best thing. That's the best thing.

Ryohei Watanabe: So I've talked to a few people that mainly speak Japanese today. Sure. I've talked to a few people that mainly speak English. I know that the clients are Japanese. Right. Can somebody work on this product without Japanese knowledge?

Tam Nguyen I'm definitely living proof of that. Yeah. Because like, I mean, I have some Japanese understanding, but it's not enough to work at a Japanese Japanese company. Which is. Yeah. So definitely can. They can. Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: How does the company do stuff to like? make sure that you can like work on the Japanese product while being a mainly English speaker?

Tam Nguyen Yeah. Yeah. I would say if there's ever a need to like translate certain like the keywords, but the programming itself is all English. So, yeah, logic is, you know, shared understanding English and stuff like that. So, yeah, it's nice that everybody's able to communicate all those particular details, important details to me. So, yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yeah. And I guess for what's coming next or like for the next year, I guess, no, actually, I actually asked, you know, Cezanne, like if there's like exciting projects coming up. And he said that it's probably something that he doesn't talk about it in terms of confidentiality stuff. So I think I'm not going to go there either. Yeah. Do you have any like advice about somebody that's trying to apply to amptalk to get past the interview process to do well here?

Tam Nguyen I think it's like to pass the interview process, definitely work of knowledge that you feel very you're kind of expert in. And at the same time, like being like a team player and not really like looking if you make a mistake, I think it's like how do you take that? Because like they'll pinpoint certain things, make it a little bit difficult. But at the same time, they just want to see how you, you know, how do you respond to that type of danger. And so like, you know, I think being mindful of that. And at the same time, yeah, just being good at code. You definitely have to be good at code in a certain way. So, yeah. Just good vibes. Beep. Know your code. And yeah. I think those two are very like universal. But yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: Let's say, Tam, I'm a friend of yours. And I'm thinking about applying to amptalk, right? Is there like a certain kind of engineer that does well here and that doesn't do well here?

Tam Nguyen Yeah. I would say, yeah. I would say so. I think an engineer who is more selfish about certain things or selfish about keeping like things to yourself may have a harder time here.

Ryohei Watanabe: Is this about knowledge or communication?

Tam Nguyen More communication, I would say. More about communication. Because like, because we're openly willing to share things. But if there's a deadline or something and there's like, oh, you know, something happened and we were not able to communicate that well, then it's like kind of tough. But if you let everybody know ahead of time and just kind of like, oh, hey, we need more, like a couple more days or something like that, then it's all good. It's definitely more communication than the engineering process. I think engineering, yeah. You got to know what you're doing. But at the same time, like we're all learning, too. So, yeah. And that doesn't stop in terms of like leveling up. Because, yeah, they may have a, everybody here has like a domain knowledge of they're good at something that they're good at. But, you know, we're not like super pros that have been coding for like 20 plus years. Yeah, yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: So. Yes. On the opposite side, is there somebody that does really well here? Like if there's like a friend of yours that's like, hey, man, this guy's the perfect dude. Like he would be really happy here at this company. I guess guy or girl. This person would be really, really happy at this company. Like what kind of person would do really well here?

Tam Nguyen Yeah. Somebody who would do really well is just like, like you're autonomous, but you're just really open. I think really open to just like communicate and talk. I think that that's part of it. Just having good communication. Yeah. I think somebody who is willing to learn and then break down any old habits. Because for us, like, you know, even for me, like we do a lot of TDD. So if you're not really down with the testing, it's quite tough. I'm being frank. You're not down with testing. It's going to be a little tough. You're going to have to relearn how to do things. And, you know, I wasn't down with testing in the very beginning. I was like, you know, we can do this a little bit quicker. We just like push this right. But then like pushing the prod. But that is a habit. That is a process of doing so many small projects. Right. Because you have deadlines, quick deadlines and people expect things quick, quick, quick, quick. But here as you're maintaining one product, it's like, OK, you got to know that this product is going to be here for a while. And then, you know, it's going to have to work for other people in the way that needs to. So you have to test. And yeah, it's TDD. It's just like, you know, you got to be down with the TDD. Yeah, you got to be down TDD. Yeah.

Ryohei Watanabe: I guess this is more of like a Tokyo question. Sure. In terms of like, I know building out your life here, let's say. For real. Like looking back at like moving to Japan, like, you know, like all the stuff that you had to do to create a life here. Is there something that you think went really, really well? Like, hey, I'm just really glad I did that as a foreign person moving to Japan.

Tam Nguyen Yeah, it's tough. My experiences are very different. Sure. I'm very lucky to have my wife.

Ryohei Watanabe: Because your wife's Japanese, right?

Tam Nguyen My wife's Japanese. And like she's been so helpful with everything. Like I really, really love her.

Ryohei Watanabe: Marry the right person.

Tam Nguyen Yeah, you got married. You got married the right person.

Ryohei Watanabe: That's a good life question.

Tam Nguyen That's like really, you know, you got to marry the right person. So, yeah. I mean, she made it easy. Her family made it easy. Everybody made it easy around me. I'm very lucky. Like you have no idea. I don't speak a lick of Japanese. And I'm thriving here. You got to understand how difficult that may be for some people. So, yeah, no, I mean, but if I were to do it all over again, with just engineering and things like that, for coming to Japan. Yeah, I mean, just asking a lot of questions to the right people. And even if they're not the right people, just keep going. Be persistent.

Ryohei Watanabe: Tam, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciated this conversation. Thank you so much. This was Tam Nguyen from amptalk. Thank you.

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Machine Learning Engineer

amptalk ・ Tokyo

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In this show, Ryohei Watanabe talks with founders and engineers in Japan's startup ecosystem. We talk about their journey, their products, and their learnings.

Ryohei Watanabe