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Embracing Heritage and Pursuing a Software Engineering Career

Hello, I’m Eric, a Junior Software Engineer at LiLz Inc. I joined the company in October 2022 and this is a blog entry about why I chose LiLz and my time here so far.

About me

I graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2021 with a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering after a long 6 years in university. I originally decided to study mechanical engineering because I was interested in robotics and I thought it would give me an easy path into a career in robotics. However, as I went through my degree and participated in roughly 20 months of internships, I realized that I wasn’t very interested in mechanical engineering jobs. I did like programming though and had enough background from high school and university that I could teach myself practical programming skills through online courses like the Odin Project (https://www.theodinproject.com/), mooc.fi (https://www.mooc.fi/en/) and fullstackopen (https://fullstackopen.com/en/).

In my free time, I like to play tennis and work out. I’m not very good at either, but they are fun and give me goals to work towards, which I like. As LiLz works on a full-flex system I tend to do both during the week as that’s when both of my hobbies are the most convenient to do. 

Why Japan/LiLz?

Beginning in high school, my mom would tell me I should go work in Japan so I could improve my Japanese and experience Japan. She read in some articles online that Onsen Ryokans were desperate for seasonal workers and began applying to jobs for me so I could sweep empty onsen baths instead of playing video games all summer long. Luckily, the Onsen Ryokans weren’t interested in a 17 year old Japanese Canadian boy so I could spend my summer doing nothing. This idea about working in Japan and learning more about my heritage and mother tongue did stick with me though and as I was eligible for a Japanese passport, it was always something that was in the back of my mind. 

Skipping forward a few years to mid-2022, coupled with some personal factors and my interest in working and living in Japan, I began looking for jobs in Japan. I had a few things on my wish list for a software engineering job. I wanted an environment where I could learn software engineering from seniors and a modern software development environment with tests, dockerized environments and an overall pleasant development experience. 

While interviewing with LiLz, I gained a great impression of the work environment, my future colleagues and the development experience. My first interview was with Kuba, the CTO and during my interview with Kuba, there were many things I did not know, but Kuba took the time to explain them if I asked. I was also pleased with his answers on the software development process, how code is developed, and on the code review process. In my interview with Nishime-san, the senior most engineer at LiLz, he also explained to me what a B-tree was and a practical application of them (databases) after I said I didn’t know what it was. These interviews gave me an amazing impression of my future colleagues and work environment. Overall, I felt that LiLz would be a great fit for me and would provide me with the support and learning opportunities that I was looking for.

What I’ve done so far

As I did not have prior professional experience in software development, there was definitely a lot to learn in the beginning. It was confusing and a little daunting to navigate the large codebase, but with time and a little guidance I learned how to browse the code and find what I need. 

I’ve been assigned all sorts of different tasks throughout my time so far, ranging from creating API endpoints to building internal CLI tools for our customer success team. One memorable experience was noticing that the official API documentation did not have the LiLz logo and instead the old Swagger UI logo. I created an issue on Github about it and although it was a small detail, I was still able to learn new things.

For the past few months, I’ve been working on the internationalization of LiLz Gauge, which is the web platform for our LiLz Cam. As the company is trying to expand into the global market, this is an important problem to tackle and I am happy that I was assigned a task with such business value. 


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