It’s finally happening! I’m finally making the switch over from my blog on johnpham.me to this page. And while switching over is business as usual for most, I’d like to take a second to lookback when it started 6 years ago.
I found myself in New York City after graduating in 2014 working in digital research and consulting at L2 Inc. While there, I started to learn basic programming just so I could get more things done faster. Initially, I spent most of my time in Excel and Powerpoint, but I quickly found myself in Sublime writing small automation snippets automation in Python and SQL. Before long, I had experienced that, “Wow, this is really cool. What else can I do?” moment. This curiosity spilled over into my spare time as I pored over Codecademy and Youtube tutorials.
I was still only two months out of college. While my peers were out living their best lives at happy hour in Murray Hill or at tables in Meatpacking, I was holed up learning lambda functions. I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t also been itching to go out on nights and weekends and that all concentration was 100% willpower. But truthfully, living on Roosevelt Island and then the Upper West Side made staying in so much easier rather trekking downtown in the wee hours to meet people. A 6-pack and lines of code was how I spent my early days in the city that never sleeps.
I launched johnpham.me in December 2014, probably 3 months after my initial endeavors. I used the website to prove to myself that I was actually getting somewhere with my time and having an end project made learning feel much more productive. I spun up the backend using Django and learning the intricacies of web development. I painfully learned how to deploy on a DigitalOcean droplet while I barely knew what OOP meant. The power of YouTube, trial-and-error, and perseverance got me a running website. I also created my first web application called TrackMate that allowed people to collaborate on Spotify playlists (now a feature!) The main goal was just to learn and explore new technologies. And I’ve always had a fascination for data— the stories it can tell, forgotten truths it can reveal, and its power in evidence-based decision-making (Thank you Global Health Strategies class). With this new set of hacky skills, I endeavored tackling some of my own burning questions…
- How much did Chipotle burritos cost throughout the Country? (At the time, a Manhattan chicken burrito was $1.25 more expensive than across the Hudson in Hoboken).
- What does Yellow Cab ridership look like in New York City? (The most expensive cab fares typically originate from the airports, shocking.)
- Could I train a Neural Network to predict the winner of the Bachelor on looks alone? (Unsurprisingly, appearances solely could not predict the winner of the Bachelor. Our predicted winner came in 3rd place though!)
Fast-forward a handful of years later, I’ve had the opportunity to turn these self-directed projects and musings into a career! I’ve had the good fortune to join experienced data science teams previously at Dstillery and now Bowery Farming. It’s funny to think back how my sublet on Roosevelt Island played a role in where I am today. I think there is something to be said about putting in the time and having obviously a bit of luck.
But about this website itself, I’m going to try to keep things simple and reduce the effort to get things done. Hopefully, this will encourage me to keep the website updated with content.