Goodbye 2013

Today marks the end of 2013. I’m always surprised by how much can happen in a year. Here are some of the highlights.

  1. I completed an internship at Earth Hour Global. It was by far the best working experience I’ve had. Maybe it was because I get to feel like I was actually doing my part to save the world. It was also during the internship that I realised how much importance I put on personal fulfilment. I enjoyed the internship so much that I’m actually considering going back there to work.

  2. It was the first time I attended meetups or events consistently throughout the year. It allowed me to get to see what the industry was like by meeting people with the same interests. Most of these events had talks of some kind that taught me things I would never get to learn in a classroom.

  3. New Zealand would definitely be the travel highlight of the year. The trip was extremely eventful. I packed light, climbed the steepest road, snowboarded down The Remarkables and met many new friends.

  4. I can now officially call myself a Computer Science graduate. I was glad that I was able to enrol in a couple of great courses this year, most notably, COMP9447 Security Engineering Workshop and MGMT2010 Innovation and Entrepreneurship (previously known as STRE2010).

    COMP9447 got me interested in security. The course was very hands-on as we applied our theoretical knowledge on real implementations. We were not only taught the necessary skills but also encouraged to think in the shoes of an attacker. The final exam was not your typical university exam. It was a 5 hour exam with full internet access in a capture the flag (CTF) format. We were tested on 4 components, reverse engineering, C auditing, exploitation and web. Although it was intense, the exam was actually very fun.

    MGMT2010 gave me a little incubator/sandbox in which I could practice building a lean startup. Throughout the course we had to generate and validate our startup and at the end, each startup had to pitch to real investors and entrepreneurs. It was such a great experience and the lessons will definitely stay with me for many years to come.

As with everything, the year wasn’t a bed of roses. There’re always things that could be improved. Here are a couple of things I thought I should work on.

Improve the way I maintain personal and professional relationships. As I continue to accumulate more friends and professional contacts, I feel like I should be doing more to actively build and maintain these relationships. An occasional email, a catch up coffee, maybe once a month or two should do wonders.

Be more productive by removing distractions. For the past 2 years I have been doing my best to stay away from the popular yet distracting social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Next year, I feel like I can further improve my productivity by reducing time spent on articles submitted to HN and other tech news sites. If I redirect my attention away from these sites as well as continue to stay away from social networks, I should be able to devote more time to get actual work done.

One of the things I aim to do with the productivity boost is to write more. I wrote more this year than the last, therefore I hope to increase both quality as well as quantity next year.

So, that was my year, together with some thoughts on how I’m going to spend the next. I’m excited and looking forward to what the next year will bring.

Stanley Tan
@stnly