Editor’s note : Vivi is my classmate in the character interview class. I was immediately attracted to her when I saw her self-introduction, and then learned more about her story through Xiaohongshu. Finally, at 11 a.m. Beijing time and 8 p.m. San Francisco time, halfway around the world, we started this online interview.

2023 is Vivi’s fourth year working in the United States. She is now working as a product designer at Microsoft. Her CloudAI team is integrating Microsoft’s new generation artificial intelligence product Copilot into the cloud service platform Azure project. An era of universal AI has arrived.

Six years ago in 2017, Trump became the 45th President of the United States, Chinese Go player Ke Jie lost miserably against artificial intelligence AlphaGo, and shared bicycles became popular across the country.

At that time, she was a product manager for a domestic e-commerce platform. One night in the summer, she was walking home after working overtime until very late. She made up her mind to quit her job after working for three years. She left the company two weeks later. After more than half a year of preparing for the exam, she got a graduate offer from Carnegie Mellon University majoring in human-computer interaction. After graduating with a master’s degree, she came to work in Silicon Valley. Now she writes on Xiaohongshu as “Vivi Learning” “Sister” account name to share her own records of self-exploration.

During the three years of working in China, Vivi was also trapped by the wolf culture of the Internet. Overtime, internal friction and even workplace harassment caused her to become almost depressed. Until one day, she asked herself, “If I work hard enough and are lucky enough on this road, can I be what I want to be? Can I live the life I want?” She heard the answer in her heart.

“I originally wanted to study and prepare while working at the same time. I didn’t want to take a gap year. I was worried that I wasted this year. What would I do? Others are making progress and getting promoted, but I didn’t make any more money this year. But later on, because of the great pressure from work and study, I couldn’t do anything well even if I wanted to do it. When I was walking home from the company in the middle of the night, I suddenly thought that I should let it go. Since I had decided to leave, Just resign now. My savings are enough for me to use this year.

“I originally thought of resigning in January of the following year, because there was a stock that could not be cashed out until then. I thought for a moment, is this stock more important, or is my future more important? I think my future is more important. , I must go abroad, I must go to this graduate school, then I don’t want this stock. After you give up on something, you will become accustomed to giving up. “

I have the desire to create

Vivi studied as an undergraduate at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, and changed her major from “Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language” to “Spanish”. After graduation, she did not choose a job related to her major. Instead, she went to the Internet industry, which was just emerging at the time, and started from scratch. Management Trainee.

“I have a desire to create. Most of the time when I learn a language, I still interpret other people’s words. At that time, I felt that there was not much room for creativity. It was just a skill. I also wanted to understand some things other than language. Go Management trainees in this company can rotate through different positions. I wanted to understand what various industries are like, so I chose that job.

“The positions I was rotated through included advertising and marketing, product manager, purchasing and sales, and I even went to the warehouse to do some logistics. During the rotation, I basically went through the entire e-commerce process.

“The job rotation lasted for more than half a year, and I was finally assigned as a product manager until I left the company. When I was working as a product manager, I found that I didn’t really like communication and coordination work, but I found that I really enjoyed drawing flow charts, When doing wireframes. I liked doing my own work rather than updating project information for different people, so I later switched to UX (user experience design).”

I want to work abroad

After resigning, Vivi spent more than half a year preparing to apply for a school in the United States majoring in human-computer interaction. Her Xiaohongshu shared her school application process:

  • July to August: Take the GRE and learn about HCI (Human Computer Interaction) application information
  • September to October: Take TOEFL and start making a portfolio
  • November: Complete two major projects in the portfolio
  • December: Write essays and complete the last two small projects in the portfolio
  • January: Submit application

“I have always had the desire to study abroad. After working, I saved some money and finally had a financial foundation. Another reason is that after working in China for 3 years, I was tired of my first job. At that time, I thought, oh, I definitely don’t want to stay here anymore, I definitely don’t want to live this kind of life anymore, it’s a bit like running away. I don’t want to work in China (at the current pace) for the time being, so I chose to go abroad.

“The work rhythm (in the United States) is basically very stable now, from 9 to 5, and even Friday is a no meeting day. No meetings will be arranged. You can do some of your own things. You may only work for half a day, so it is equivalent to 4 days of work. I took 3 days off and felt much more relaxed.

“After the epidemic, working hours are relatively free. As long as you can complete your work and attend online meetings on time, no one cares what time you get off work or what time you go to work. I work from home now. Although the company also has offices, and the workstations are not fixed, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to, and you can be wherever you want most of the time.

“I was very uncomfortable with remote work in the first half year. The first point was the problem of living space. At that time, I shared a house with others. Each person had a room. The bedroom and office were in the same room. I woke up in this room every day and slept in it. Staying in this room for a long time will affect your mood. The second point is that I started working remotely not long after I got my first job in the United States. I didn’t have many friends here at the time, and I didn’t know anyone. In fact, the fastest way to get to know each other was when I first started working. The only way to meet new people is in the office. Without this way, I find myself feeling lonely, and I end up alone at home every day.

“After adapting for a long time, I slowly found a more free way. Now I am used to chatting with others online, and then meeting people offline is a way to get to know people. Another decision is to make the space where I live a little larger. , now my bedroom and office are separated, and I bought some expensive equipment, such as a desk and an office chair. After you make it comfortable, the efficiency of working at home will indeed improve.

“The online office software I use is Microsoft’s Teams work group. Maybe because of my current job type, the work pace is not very fast. There is no urgent deadline saying that you must put this online by what time. There is no anxiety in this regard. So if others don’t reply to me in time, I think, then I just wait two days. After work, I close Teams so no one can find me. Even if they send me messages at night, I won’t reply. relation.”

Studying in the United States is too hard

The School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University is the dream school of many people. What did Vivi gain from her one year of graduate school here compared to her undergraduate studies in China?

“I don’t even think that it was called learning before. My understanding of learning and the way of learning have been subverted. Of course, this may also be the reason why I switched from liberal arts to an interdisciplinary subject.

“Studying in the United States was so hard. I basically didn’t sleep for five hours a day in the first half of the year. I had constant homework and classes, and there was always something to finish. But I enjoyed it a lot. You can really feel it. I have made great progress every day, and I am creating new things every day. It is actually very exciting to study with such cutting-edge professors.

“Studying in China may be difficult, but the learning process is boring. Although I am still interested in language and literature, the teaching method does not make you enjoy it very much. The hardship of studying in the United States is purely physical. It’s hard work, but my heart is not tired. It’s physically hard because the progress of the course is a bit too fast, and I don’t have a very good foundation. I feel like my God, I’m so tired every day, but in fact I feel satisfied every day, and I make progress every day. quick.

“The teacher in class will never systematically tell you how to learn first, then how to learn, and then you can apply it. He just tells you directly that you have to create something yourself, and then how to learn it. Learn by yourself. The teacher will teach you cutting-edge science and technology and academic stuff to broaden your horizons. He may not teach you anything very practical. As for how to learn practical skills, you have to find them yourself. .

“The hardest thing to master is actually the way of thinking and concepts. You need to do some projects in school and get guidance from teachers, and then you can slowly internalize it and make it your own.

“There is a concept called project based learning, project-based learning. For example, I learned some design thinking methodologies at that time, and the homework the teacher left for you in class was that you have to apply this methodology to make a product. You have to first Write an outline about what product you want to design, what problems it will solve for users, and how to apply the theory you just learned. The teacher will help you read the outline and give you some suggestions. In the end, you will find that everyone applies They have the same theory, but everyone does something different.

“This process will exercise your innovation ability. If you encounter problems during the process, ask your classmates or the teacher. The teacher may have some resources that he can recommend to you, but he will not teach you step by step. I had never learned to write code before. There was a course that asked you to write a web page, but writing a web page was not the point. The point was that you had to apply a teaching theory to this web page. In order to do this assignment, I had to both I used this theory to design this webpage and then developed it. The process was very tiring, but I still felt a sense of accomplishment after finishing it.”

I can’t accept working in Mexico for a long time

Mexico is a favorite place for many South American backpackers. It is always ranked in the top ten on the Nomad List. The Pixar animated film “Coco” made the Day of the Dead well known. Vivi studied Spanish as an undergraduate, spent a year as an exchange student in Mexico, and traveled back to Mexico for a month the year before last. What is her impression of Mexico?

“I have lived in Mexico for a year and I feel that this place is only suitable for me to travel or experience briefly. If I am asked to work in this place for a long time in the future, I may not be able to accept it. This is also a career change when looking for a job. Another reason.

“After staying in Mexico for half a year, I sometimes feel disconnected from the world. I feel that I will become ‘stupid’ if I stay for a long time - my sensitivity to things and my enterprising spirit will weaken. In addition, I have to do things there. The efficiency is very low. You will find that we Chinese are too efficient. In Mexico, when you deal with many places, they are not punctual and the efficiency is very low. After a long time, because you are surrounded by such an environment, you yourself Being punctual will turn you into an alien, and you will be inefficient in everything you do.

“When I came across the Day of the Dead, I thought it was very interesting. There were colorful things everywhere. For the first time, I discovered that some people celebrate Qingming Festival like this. There are some people in the world who view death this way. They don’t treat death as such. Seen as a very heavy thing, death can also be very joyful. This is quite interesting about the Latin people, they are very optimistic. At that time, we studied a book called “Loneliness” by the Mexican writer Paz who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. “The Labyrinth”, the book mainly talks about the national character of the Latin American people and why their past history has caused their current national character. When I saw this book, I thought it was very interesting. It is something you see in your life. You can all relate it to what you learned, and the process is quite interesting.

“When I was on university exchange, traveling in South America was a bit like clocking in. I was worried that I would miss something and what to do if I couldn’t find it next time. I wanted to do the most in a limited time. I didn’t sleep in order to rush, so I took the night bus. Now. I actually pay more attention to my current feelings. Because you find that in those places you go to, if you go to one more project or one less project, you will actually forget it in the end. The current feeling is very happy, not tired, I think this Points are more important.

“In the past, I mainly played with my classmates and met new friends, but they were all the same as me. We were all exchange students. This time, my friend brought some colleagues over, some of whom were in Mexico. Those who work in engineering and business are different from the feeling I had when I was in school and met people who were the same as me. Meeting new people and chatting with them while traveling is something I care more about now. of.”

I want to study anthropology in Europe in the future.

“I still prefer change, even transformation. I like to re-understand a field every few years and treat myself as a product and keep iterating. In terms of ideal life, I want to always create new things.

“The work itself cannot fully satisfy my creative desires. The requirements for the work should not be too high. I can use my spare time to explore other things.

“My previous plan was to spend five years becoming a freelancer, leaving the ladder-climbing workplace, trying more things, and establishing connections with people of the same genre. But recently I discovered that in a company, you can always There’s an acumen for cutting edge stuff. If I were really a freelancer, I probably wouldn’t have that acumen, so that’s doubtful for now.

“I like a rhythmic life. I work for a few years, take a break, concentrate on absorbing knowledge, and then go to work. Whether you are an undergraduate or a graduate student, there is always employment pressure or financial pressure. There are all kinds of things that bother you and prevent you from completely immersing yourself in knowledge and scholarship. I hope that if I have the opportunity in the future, I can simply enjoy knowledge instead of gaining anything through it.”

Some advice on choosing a life direction

“Looking back on the past, the choice that had the greatest impact on me was to resign. At that time, my work was not going well, and there were changes in my family and relationships. Under such circumstances, I decided to resign. In fact, I gave up a lot and endured a huge hardship. Pressure. After this incident, my ability to withstand pressure and face setbacks has improved a lot. Another change in my concept is that I dare to let go, let go of past achievements, and let go of some baggage and labels. Only when you let go of these things can you go further.

For friends who want to make a choice in life direction, can you provide them with some reference suggestions?

“The first suggestion is, don’t have too high demands on yourself and don’t compare with others. If you compare with others and find that others are not confused, why are they so directional? You may suddenly feel very anxious and inferior. You must not be affected by these external standards. Find your own rhythm and know what you want. There is no way to compare between people. Instead of spending time doubting and entangled, waiting for others to tell you whether it will work or not, Why not act quickly and prove for yourself that you can really do it .

“The second suggestion is that when you are confused, go see more of the outside world, chat with more people, and try more new things. You will find that maybe the door to the world will open more for you. . After trying something, if it still doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter, because you are still so young, then you can try something else. Treat this process of trying and overthrowing yourself as an experience, and don’t pursue the results too much. Let you enjoy the process more. If you are temporarily confused about life and can’t find the way forward, then boldly try and make mistakes. There is nothing more exciting than taking risks.

“When you are confident and strong enough, you can achieve physical and mental freedom without being kidnapped by the ’excellent’ standards defined by the environment. That is something more worthy of pursuit than the freedom of wealth.”

After OpenAI’s ChatGPT hit the Internet, Microsoft also launched a Copilot conference. During the AI-related learning organized by the company, Vivi regained the enthusiasm she had when she first started working. She planned to use AI on the Midjourney platform to draw Make a web page and try new product design methods.

An era of AI has begun. After handing over tedious and repetitive tasks to AI, will humans live a better life? What kind of person do you want to be, what kind of life do you want to live, and what is your answer to this?