What I Learned in 2019


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In 2019 my goal was to become more adventurous and explore. At this point last year (1/1/2019) I was in my last semester of undergrad and was incredibly nostalgiac of my time at Champaign-Urbana, so I had decided to invest more time in friendships and grow a bit more as a person.

In previous years my goals were more technically-oriented or concrete, such as “complete x project for my professor” or “set timers for studying”. While I do not remotely regret the technical experience I gained from research and work, I wanted to try focusing in more non-technical ways as well. Having finished/finishing up undergrad, I didn’t feel full-time pressure to “be a student” and learn. 2019 was a good a time as any to explore non-technical growth.

While I find any vague New Year’s Resolution to be failure-prone, here still are some things I did to “become more adventurous” in no particular order:

Forcing myself to do these things has vastly impacted both my social and work life– conversations come naturally, and I find myself taking much more initiative at work. It greatly surprised me that vague work-unrelated interests (e.g. being first-to-contact and organize many social events) may benefit other parts of my life (e.g. being first to plan a project and reach out to other engineers).

Goals for 2020

Despite the fact I no longer have that external pressure to learn from school, I still have the deep desire to do cool projects and learn from them. I had purposely focused on growing personally in 2019, yet I still feel that 95% of my technical knowledge has remained the same as 6-7 months ago when I graduated. I want to learn more in 2020.

To be a little more concrete, here are some projects I will be doing.

I find these two goals to be a nice balance between fun and realistic. Fun, because I love cryptography and potential hardware applications of cryptography/security; realistic because I have some prior understanding of these algorithms as is and may provide me insight into 1) chip development and 2) debian packages. Also, if I may be frank, I feel that my programming skills have gotten rusty and a good project would help me stay sharp!

In any case, stay tuned! I hope to reference this post in a year and point to these projects again, or any other projects that I may come up with.

On the other hand, lots of psychology research points to not telling people prematurely so we’ll see how it goes :)