Life changing decisions are an everyday occurrence that often go unnoticed. Then one day we wake up and realize the impact of some of our decisions and how they’ve changed our lives. David Sutoyo has such a story.
It is such a pleasure for me to introduce David Sutoyo to you. David is a good friend who also happens to be the very talented guy I work with on all my web stuff. His skill and talent in that area has been the best anyone could ask for. So without further ado, here is David and his story about his life changing decisions.
Life Changing Decisions – David Sutoyo
Spouse. College. Career. These are the kinds of life changing decisions that we face at some point in our lives. There are decisions that we got right, there are those we’d like to have back, and then there are others that don’t quite seem like either. This is one of those life changing decisions.
It was the summer after college. I had just finished my degree as a pre-med Neuroscience major, and all of the medical schools I had applied to rejected me. My status as a foreign student prevented me from entering the workforce right away, so I was limited to taking classes at a local college and deciding between applying to med school again, with graduate school as a fallback, or start over and apply to art school, since I did have a strong interest in web design.
I struggled with the choice, but I ultimately took the grad school route. Looking back, I think I was motivated by fear. I was afraid to spend my parents’ money on tuition, even though they would gladly pay it if I had gone to art school. I was afraid to blaze a new path only to fail. Worse yet, I was afraid to come out of art school to an empty job sector (back during the web’s infancy the term “web designer” barely existed, let alone be a proper career). Furthermore, I already had plenty of research experience — including a stint harvesting rat brains for epilepsy research — plus a scholarship to pay for graduate school.
It seemed like a no-brainer.
I forged full-speed ahead into grad school thinking that I was going into a life of academia. I worked hard in the lab, and did well in my classes. I even stopped playing around with web design even though I had spent a lot of time dabbling with it in college. It was all going well until I took a CV writing class. It hit me that my career would be defined by a list of published articles in a relatively narrow field. While scholarly achievements are nothing to sneeze at, I realized that it wasn’t me. I realized that I loved working with the web, that my passion is to create. I decided then that I would work with the web after I finished my degree, and that’s what I did.
Fast forward to today. I’ve worked for a successful dot-com as an employee and worked with many clients as a freelancer. I’ve designed logos, websites, and brochures, built WordPress themes and plugins, and even an iPhone game or two. Lately I’ve teamed up with two partners, building an iPhone game based on an existing card system.
On the surface, it may seem like I’ve made the wrong choice going to graduate school. Yet as I dig deeper I feel like that is not necessarily the case. While many of the hard skills I learned as a graduate student did not transfer, it’s the soft skills that stayed with me throughout the years. I learned to be comfortable with public speaking as a TA, gained better writing skills while writing my thesis, and had my first real exposure to programming while try to design my experiments. Most importantly, the researcher’s spirit of self-teaching carried over as I learned how to design and code on my own.
Even now, the work that me and my partners do require a lot of self-teaching and exploration. We are using HTML technologies to build our app, meaning we can use our code and build apps compatible with iOS, Android, and the regular desktop browser. It’s been done before, but there certainly aren’t any textbooks for what we are trying to do. This isn’t limited to the tech side, either. We are planning on going on Kickstarter to raise funds, and we need to do the research, and create all the pieces that fit together to start our Kickstarter campaign. At the end of the day, it’s not so different from a research project.
Do I think graduate school was the wrong decision? I honestly can’t say for sure either way. I’ve learned not to see it in such black-and-white terms. I may have missed out on a couple of years of the web, but the skills I learned in graduate school are just as valuable. It is all part of my own unique background.
Shameless self-promotion: if you are interested in the game, called Emu Ranchers, you can find out more on our Facebook page and join the mailing list on our website. Who knows, you may even win one of our promotional card decks!
Thanks David. Isn’t it funny how things happen in our life? Many of our simplest decisions, early on, unknowingly become life changing decisions. Our life’s journey really is very circuitous, never a straight line. So now I ask that you take a moment and check out what David’s life changing decisions have created. I promise, you will enjoy it.
Life’s journey continues…