Growing up with the assumption that he would never be able to attend higher education, WSOS Alum Dan Radion is now proud to call himself a college graduate. Having graduated with a degree in computer engineering from the University of Washington, he now works as a software engineer at Google.

Even while in college, Dan knew the importance of maintaining his interests in order to prepare for life after college. Pursuing his fascination with computers and systems, Dan utilized his school time efficiently by finding the right courses and internships that led him to his current career path. Learn more about Dan’s steps to success below, as well as how WSOS allowed him to pursue his dreams.

What inspired you to pursue your major?

I grew up in a low-income, immigrant family that did not emphasize education, so I never even planned on going to college. But some amazing teachers and mentors from my high school Robotics Club encouraged me to think bigger. Out of six older siblings, I became the first to attend college.

I majored in Computer Engineering because I really enjoyed thinking about systems. Some people have this idea that CSE is all about sitting over a computer and hacking away at code. In reality, software engineering requires you to think deeply about how all the pieces of a system interact. As a software engineer at Google, I’m constantly challenged to think about how to make our systems more efficient, reliable, and scalable.

What excites you most about your profession?

Software Engineering is a challenging, creative, and rewarding career. Every day, I get to work with very smart coworkers designing software systems that have large impact on our users.

Tell us about your internship work this summer.

I did an internship at Amazon, where I got to play my small part in developing Amazon’s cloud computing platform. After applying through the UW CSE career fair, I had to go through a technical coding interview to get the internship offer. My internship at Amazon got me excited about how “Cloud Computing” is changing the way we build software today.

Today, I work on the Google Cloud Platform.

What has surprised you most about your program and studies?

It absolutely amazed me to learn about the huge amount of research and engineering effort that is required to do something we take for granted – like opening up a webpage or finding directions in Google Maps.

What extracurricular activities are you participating in that are helping you with your career goals?

I was a TA for “Introduction to Databases” and “Database Systems” and also did undergraduate research with the CSE Databases group.

This focus on databases helped me dive deep and understand a very important part of how software systems work. I draw on this knowledge almost every day for my job at Google.

How has receiving WSOS supported you on your path to a thriving career in your field?

Coming from a low-income family, WSOS has been a very welcome financial support. I’ve also really enjoyed befriending the amazing staff that make WSOS possible.

What is your favorite app?

My Facebook and Snapchat serve as photo streams of my wonderful cat named Charles 🙂

I’m also a big fan of Coursera – where you can learn pretty much any topic from top schools. I’ve taken courses on Game Theory, Finance, and Economics.