At the end of high school I found myself waitlisted at Wake Forest University, with rejections from all other schools I'd applied to. I was down, but as luck would have it, I was accepted off the waitlist. Those years at Wake Forest turned out to be some of the best in my life.
Come senior year, I was struggling to land a job. Only one interview. As I sat down, the interviewer studied my resume intently. "Do you know my mom?" he asked. I glanced at his business card, noticing the last name “Imamura.” Piecing it together, I asked, "Was your mom the director of the Japan study abroad program?" To which he replied, "Yes!" This connection led to a job offer and meaningful relationships that continue to this day.
Later on, I made a significant career shift, leaving investment banking to teach English in Japan. Newlywed and barely scraping by, I found myself wondering if I'd jeopardized my future career prospects.
However, during my spare time after teaching, I worked on a web app for translators. Seeking exposure, I reached out to ProZ.com about advertising opportunities. The sales representative mentioned that their founder also had ties to Japan and suggested an introduction. This serendipitous connection became a gateway to my first development job.
5 years later, in another unexpected turn, a senior colleague from my early investment banking days acquired a speech therapy company. He needed assistance in streamlining its operations, and the role demanded a unique skill set. Remarkably, it combined a lot of my interests/skills: natural language processing, teaching English as a foreign language (which has similarities to the work SLPs do), helping young children, and software development.
Without a few lucky breaks might life might look very different right now.