Pursuing Passion: Taking a Chance on a Career in Tech
March 23, 2017 | Express Scripts
For Jay, his love for computers started at a very young age. Growing up in China, he fondly remembers writing love letters with Microsoft Word and using computers heavily in school. When it came time for middle school, Jay took a programming class to learn Visual Basic. While he could easily follow what the teacher was doing, he had a difficult time understanding the coding aspect. “I began to get discouraged and thought I was never going to be very good at programming so I sort of gave up,” Jay shares.
Switching it Up
When it came time for Jay to start college, he came to the United States to attend school at Missouri University of Science and Technology. “Even though I felt a tug to major in something computer related, I ignored it and decided to choose a field that would be easier to get a job in come graduation. I landed in accounting,” he says.
Given the language barrier, Jay had a hard time understanding many of his teachers and the accounting material. However, he admits that his heart just wasn’t in it. “I saw other international students all around me majoring in fields they were passionate about, regardless of the ease of getting a job post-graduation,” he recalls. Jay decided to take a chance and switched his major to Computer Science. “At the time, I had no idea that computer and programming related positions would become such hot jobs,” he shares.
Making a Connection
During a hackathon hosted at his university, Jay met a representative from Express Scripts. “We started talking at the event and I expressed my interest in becoming an iOS developer,” he recalls. “I was impressed by the rep’s passion for the technology industry and how open-minded he was when it came to adopting new practices and programs. After our talk, I knew I wanted to work there after I graduated.”
A week later, Jay sent an email to one of the contacts he met during the hackathon containing links to all relevant projects he worked on during college. The contact forwarded the email to another leader who brought Jay in for an interview. A few weeks later, Jay was extended an offer. “I’m so thankful the contact took an interest in me,” he says. “After all, she’s one of the main reasons I was noticed.”
After graduating in 2016, Jay accepted a position as an associate programmer analyst with Express Scripts in the company’s newly opened Austin office. “The job is never boring. I feel like I learn something new every day and I’m always challenged, which – as a programmer – is crucial,” he shares.
Jay and his team recently had the opportunity to work on building the company’s Digital Benefit Guide (DBG). This application allows members to download a digital member ID card to be stored on their mobile devices. Any updates to their health plan or benefits will automatically update the digital card on their phone, eliminating the need to mail members a new card every time there is a change.
While this was a fascinating project for Jay to work on, he was able to experience the advantage it gives patients and members firsthand. “I have allergies that require me to take medication regularly,” he shares. “ When I went to my pharmacy the last time for a refill, I was told the card I presented was expired and unless I could produce one that was updated, I would be unable to get my medication.”
Fortunately, Jay was able to download his member ID card through the DBG, show the updated card and receive his medicine. However, this was a teachable moment. “I realized that without the DBG I helped build, I could have gone without my medication,” he says. While it may not have been a huge issue for Jay, it could have been life-threatening for other people with far more serious conditions. “I was extremely proud to be working at Express Scripts that day because I was able to experience firsthand the impact of the work we do as a company,” he comments.
Thinking back to college, Jay is so thankful he decided to follow his passion and trade his major in accounting for computer science. “My problems with programming in middle school disappeared in college. I understood the content perfectly,” shares Jay. “Now, it is my sincere belief that in most cases, people are good at what they are passionate about. My advice to others is to choose a job or a field you love so that you can wake up and say ‘yay, it’s Monday’ rather than ‘yay, it’s Friday’.”
Jay is an associate programmer analyst in Express Scripts’ Austin office, working to document, design, develop, and test web applications and services.
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