Richard Ni-Computer Science and Biology (B.Sc)

From HKSN Alumni to Software Engineer at Facebook, Richard Ni is here with us as he shares his experiences in programming, life at McGill, and pursuing one’s goals.

Interviewer’s note: this interview is rather shorter and is primarily focused on the interviewee’s experiences at McGill University that led him to where to where he is today.

Tell us about what you studied at McGill.

I graduated from McGill University in the Fall of 2020 with a B.Sc in Computer Science and Biology.

For more information regarding the McGill School of Computer Science and Department of Biology please refer to the following links:

What have you been doing since graduation?

Since graduating in Fall 2019 I have been working as a Software Engineer at Facebook.

What are some pros and cons about your program?

Starting with the pros, my program offered a lot of flexibility with course selection in both the Biology and CS departments.

Not to mention the widespread of opportunities post-graduation — from everyone I know who was in the program, we all ended up pretty evenly split between software engineering, medical school, and grad school for research.

With so many higher-level courses to choose from, I was able to pick topics that particularly interested me.

Now the cons. The hardest part with being in a joint major is the lack of depth in each stream. Not to mention the drastic context switching between courses — with one being more assignment heavy and requires more problem solving ability, and the other being purely memorization.

What were some valuable involvements at school that taught you about yourself and oriented your goals?

Going into my second year is when I knew for sure that I wanted a career in programming. I found myself fascinated with technology and ended up spending lots of time being a hermit in my room, cuddled up in my blanket, with my laptop on Codecademy.com.

With that at the top of my mind I made an effort to pursue my goals by attending hackathons, building personal projects, and applying to dozens and dozens of companies.

What’s one thing you regret doing/not doing during your McGill career?

Not using my electives to explore new avenues of learning opportunities. It wasn’t until my graduating term when I took an Intro to Linguistics course and absolutely loved it. I know we all want that easy A to bump up our GPAs *cough* Art of Listening *cough* which is very important!

But we’re lucky that McGill offers such a wide variety of intro courses and sometimes it really pays off to discover any of your hidden interests.

What’s one thing you’re proud about during your McGill career?

Building up my network (by joining HKSN). Throughout my time at McGill I have met some incredible people and shared so many amazing experiences that will last with me for the rest of my life.

What advice would you give to younglings at McGill? or… If you were to go back to your first year, what would you have done differently?

Challenge yourself! Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and get involved with student clubs and organizations. Chances are, you’ll meet plenty of folks who have interests and hobbies aligned with yours and develop some special connections.

For more content on Richard’s story and other similar experiences come check out HKSN’s Spotify Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/3vjJxXUu7ewoPUnPBamUJA?si=ydXcrF0vTea4Dx9c33ldFA&nd=1

The Hong Kong Student Network is an undergraduate club at McGill that celebrates and promotes Hong Kong culture.