My statement of purpose for Georgia Tech OMSCS

georgia tech football team celebrating win

I got a decision letter from Georgia Tech this morning (evening in the States but I’m in Korea right now) saying I got accepted into the OMSCS program for 2017 Fall term! I think my SOP (statement of purpose) played a big role (thanks Hols, Software, and Matt for reviewing) so I wanted to share it in case it’d be helpful for future applicants. Shoutout to /r/OMSCS for guiding me throughout the process. Enjoy!

Prompt: Please give a Statement of Purpose detailing your academic and research goals as well as career plans. Include your reasons for choosing the College of Computing as opposed to other programs and/or other universities. Your space is limited to 4000 characters.

statue of liberty

In December 2015, I became the American dream. And my grandmother could not be prouder.

As I stood in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall, swearing my naturalization oath, I looked back on my journey so far. My dad and grandmother took me and my brother across the Pacific to provide for us a better education and partly to escape the stigma towards divorced families in Korea. Thankfully, their sacrifice paid off; I learned English well enough to ace high school and the SAT, got into Northwestern, graduated with an engineering degree, and got a great job at a company whose name my grandmother could pronounce.

But I didn’t love my job. I struggled with the fact that much of my projects’ success relied on others’ execution and output. While my stellar performance reviews from ITLP provided a great accelerated career path within GE, I realized near the end of my program that I wanted to pursue a more technical career path in software engineering where my value is mostly dependent on my own creative and intellectual output. Thankfully, switching into software engineering has been the best decision of my career so far, and my last twenty months of working as a firmware engineer talking to microcontrollers has been a tremendously exciting and enriching journey.

Growing up, I saw my dad’s constant stress from his job as a commercial banker; the idea of “doing what you love” was all too foreign to me. But through my dad and grandmother’s sacrifice, I am blessed to have found a career path early on that I’m truly passionate about. I have a unique opportunity to marry my love of software engineering with my passion to achieve career success that stems from a desire to continue the American dream for which my grandmother sacrificed her life. To not take advantage of this opportunity to boost my career by further educating myself through OMSCS — an opportunity that my grandmother and dad fought so hard for — would be unacceptable.

I want to become a technical thought leader in embedded engineering. My current environment is a great springboard for this ambition. GE is well suited for technical leaders to help move its hardware products into its Predix IoT ecosystem. GE’s current strategy of converting its non-engineering IT talent into software product managers is risky and requires that technical experts with engineering experience fill the gap. OMSCS and my experience in both hardware/software will equip me with the tools to provide valuable perspective to many critical engineering teams at GE as I continue my career.

While GE is a great place for me to grow as a leader, there is a plethora of new, promising embedded software companies in the Boston area in 3D-printing, autonomous driving, and robotics that pique my interest. Beyond GE, I would be thrilled to be able to contribute my embedded software knowledge and the wide breadth of technical ability gained from OMSCS to grow with a burgeoning startup. To that end, I have been actively attending various meet-ups and startup events to keep current with new opportunities where I may be able to fast forward my career growth. Down the road, I envision myself leveraging my degree and knack for leading teams and projects as an executive to set the strategic technical vision for innovative new companies.

I have never been so excited and eager to take on the challenges of an academic term as I am now. Unlike in my undergraduate studies, I now have a crystal-clear vision of an intended career path, and how OMSCS can help me get to where I want to be. I am wholeheartedly dedicated and ready to immerse myself in my future classes at Georgia Tech.

In the spirit of my girlfriend’s favorite show, The Bachelor, I dedicate a rose to Georgia Tech. I pray she says yes.

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