Within the first minute of talking to her, one can easily tell that Melody Yang is fierce, and is quite the unstoppable force.
This was all done while experiencing anxiety over her application for post-graduation work authorization potentially being denied if she didn’t land a job on time.
But there is much more to Yang than the timing and landing of her role with one of the world’s largest technology companies—she has also founded and developed six apps: Nukon, Recogmize, PopTag, Relate, ShareRecipe, and WePick.
It didn’t take long for Yang to become known as an authority in the development of products that sit in the intersection of mobile engineering and machine learning—a rare combo considering the deep expertise needed in both to excel.
Intersecting mobile engineering and machine learning
Yang insists that both mobile engineering and machine learning require deep expertise in their respective areas because they are very different technically.
The mastery of mobile development comes with the skills of software engineering and product development. “Since mobile apps are customer-facing products, extensive understanding in user experience design is also needed,” says Yang.
On the contrary, machine learning is research-based and focuses heavily on cloud computing. While developing models via mathematical theories, utilizing cloud computing is crucial in accelerating the training process.Melody Yang
However, Yang claims that since there’s only a little overlap between skill sets for mobile development and machine learning, most people opt to pick one route and stick with it. If one is heavily interested in consumer-facing products, they may find doing research tedious and vice versa.
Yang believes that instead of learning too many things and being a master of none, being really good at one makes candidates that much more employable. “When I look at positions in the job market, each of them are designed for candidates who are masters in one specific area. It’s rare to come across a job posting that asks for skills in two distinct domains.
It was a little different in Yang’s case. By mastering both mobile engineering and machine development, she became invaluable because she was able to prove that she can turn all that she studied into real-world applications that solve actual problems and bridge a series of gaps. It takes time, effort, and motivation to become such an individual.
Learning smart to work smart
Yang is not one to waste a single moment as she balances six projects. Through it all, she still finds time to nurture her creativity. She states that she combats this by learning new things every single week.
“Creativity gets lost under the pressure of getting things done. Therefore, I like to allocate a fixed time for learning new things every week. This can include exploring new technologies, attending business and tech conferences, and reading tech journals,” she shared.
Once she found her groove, Yang became a very fast learner. She claims that the ability to learn quickly is not innate; it can be cultivated. The first step is identifying your learning style.
Yang thrives in intense learning environments, where there’s a lot going on, forcing her to multi-task. “Focusing on one thing at a time bores me,” says Yang. “For instance, I like to take one online class for two hours, then switch to another one for three hours. Understanding your personality and learning environment will take you a long way.”
Efficiency also plays a key role in Yang’s thought process, and using OKR’s help her stay on track, allocate resources, and measure outcomes. On the leadership front, Yang is big on trust and communication.
Experience taught her that when a team doesn’t communicate, people unknowingly step on each other’s toes, which plants the seeds of friction. Communicating well during problem-solving can lead to collaboration, innovation, and great results.
When it comes to offering pearls of wisdom for today’s graduating college students to get on a similar path to success, Yang insists that they need to develop a passion for problem-solving. After all, no matter the field, problems would need to be solved every day.
Unlike the types of problems seen in exams, problems in the professional world tend to be ambiguous and have many constraints, such as limited resources, short timeframes, and other people getting in the way.
It is also important to consistently stay on top of trends taking place in one’s respective industry, which will arm anyone with the insights needed to stay sharp and fiercely determined to keep pushing forward like Melody Yang.