Stumbling on Shakespearean words during a drama class isn’t something many students would consider when enrolling in Foundation Studies, but it’s something Jack Qian found himself faced with. Surprisingly, it gave him a competitive edge when it came to both his university studies and working for Google.
Jack Qian landed straight in the Tokyo Google offices when he started his career, working as part of the Google Maps development team.
Jack knew he wanted to study computer science early on in his school years, and together with his parents, he scoured universities around the world for the best place to do it. Eventually he settled on Melbourne as the destination, and Melbourne University – with entry via Trinity College’s Foundation Studies program – as the institution.
He credits his one-and-a-half-year stint at Trinity for not only kicking off his career journey, but for also providing plenty of good times, friendship and personal growth.
Jack landed in Australia from his hometown of Harbin in China when he was 17, and the realities of living abroad hit hard and fast. From his first encounter with a taxi driver on the way from the airport, he realised his classroom English days were behind him. He now had to speak English every day, for all kinds of everyday conversations. But he took it all in good stride.
‘I found it interesting and exciting. Learning a language for so long, I finally had a chance to put it into practice,’ says Jack.
From the very beginning, he found the environment at Trinity ripe for friendship making and key to helping him prepare for life and his career.
Cue the compulsory drama classes at Trinity. Jack certainly hadn’t expected this as part of his preparation for university study, and soon found himself memorising lines, rehearsing scenes, acting, and even developing his own performance material.
‘It doesn’t feel like a serious setting, so you can get creative,’ he says. ‘The process of coming out with something new by yourself and presenting it in front of people … I found that to be helpful in building the foundation for me to do team assignments at uni, presentations, or even just talk to someone I don’t know.’
It may not have made much sense at the time, but now Jack looks back on those drama days at Trinity as some of the biggest lessons he learned to prepare him for both university and a career at Google.
His adventures into drama, and other Trinity activities, like stumbling on ye olde English words in Shakespeare plays, provided ripe ground for strong, long-lasting friendships.
‘It’s hard not to make friends in a drama class,’ Jack explains. ‘I feel like I made more friends from different countries at Trinity compared to university. And I spent only one and a half years at Trinity, compared to more than four years at university. I think one of the reasons for that was the activities we were doing together.’
These days, Jack spends a lot of his time programming in the Google offices in Tokyo, but also gets to interact with researchers, testers, designers and other programmers. He loves the role because the application he focuses on, Google Maps, is such a big part of everyone’s lives, meaning it’s easy to see how it helps people when it works well.
He says his time at Trinity played an important part in helping him transition into such a fulfilling role.
‘The 18 months I spent at Trinity have been so critical, marking the beginning of my journey studying and working abroad. Having lived in other countries, I’m confident to say Trinity did a great job helping me getting used to a new environment. It was also the starting point of me becoming a more independent individual.
‘It really is the “foundation” of how I live and what I’m capable of.’
By Antoanela Safca