Introducing Intern Developer of Technical Content, Johnny Nguyen

June 01, 2022
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Introducing Johnny Nguyen

If I could time travel, what would I think of my younger self? To be honest, I would probably think that I was annoying.

I have to applaud my parents and siblings for putting up with me. Long days were made longer by my barrage of facts. They had to listen as I gave sermons about the solar system, anatomy, history, and more. I wasn’t just a know-it-all in the making – I was a builder. I liked to paint, draw, sculpt, and create. I stayed up visualizing and testing machines, and when I was drafting them in class, I was scolded by teachers. I didn’t care. I loved learning about everything and wanted to do everything.

Soon after, the idea of settling down in a career shook me to my core. Why is it preferable to only choose one career? I could be an innovator, educator, and creator. History is full of polymaths, those who could do everything, such as da Vinci. I had a lot of dreams and not enough time to do everything.

But if younger me could time travel, what would he think of his older self? “What the heck is computer science?” he would ask. “You get to educate and even write too?” After explanation, he would probably think I’m pretty darn cool.

Coding, a Love at Second Sight

Although I would like to say that I have always wanted to be a programmer from the beginning, that is simply not the case. It was more like love at second sight. Let me explain…

We always romanticize the notion of love at first sight, the feeling of being swept off your feet by love. However, the Japanese have a phrase with a different nuance: 恋 の 予感 or koi no yokan. Whereas some may fall in love at the first encounter, koi no yokan is more close to love at second sight. That is, it’s the premonition of love or a feeling that you will inevitably fall in love.

That’s how my relationship with coding started. It was never a spark but rather a slow burn.

howl from howls moving castle walking sophie

I would say that it all started when I was in high school. I went to a school for science and mathematics, so I was always surrounded by peers who specialized in computer science. At the time, I assumed that it would be too hard or too boring for me, but I always had the most respect for computer scientists. So instead, I took a different path. During the summer after my junior year of high school, I was researching electromagnetism at the University of South Carolina in hopes of being a particle physicist. Yikes.

awkward monkey puppet looking

As I’ve soon come to find out myself, my research mentor told me physics research moves at two speeds: slow and stop. Long days and little progress, I started talking to my other classmates about their research. They were using artificial intelligence (AI) to diagnose early signs of autism through drawings, as well as using AI to identify vulnerable coral reefs. I soon realized computer science was an opportunity to improve the lives of others within a lifetime. So, for my senior year of high school, I decided to catch up with the other students and overload in my computer science courses. I wasn’t sure how I would fare. I initially had problems with some object-oriented concepts in addition to learning java and python simultaneously. However, by the end of the year, I had coded data visualizations, green screens, fractals, and mini neural networks. I still had hesitations about what I was going to pursue in college. I decided to go with computer science since its possibilities were endless, and I could figure it out along the way.

It wasn’t until I continued my computer science education in university that my inner nerd was fully released. State diagrams, artificial intelligence, data, and algorithms? I was falling in love. In fact, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I had fun during my exams. I loved how versatile it was. how beautiful it was, and how intuitive it can be. Computer science was art and problem-solving in a single package, and I loved every single bit of it.

Education as a means of Empowerment

Everyone has their own source of empowerment. Although I feel empowered when I am learning, I feel most empowered when I help others learn. Working as a researcher and tutor, I often enjoyed eureka moments and helping others walk away more confident.

Since I was young, my mom always told me about the value of an education. Growing up in poverty, she didn’t have the opportunity to earn one, so she made sure I got one myself. Unlike how it was in the '70s and '80s, the internet now does a good job of democratizing education. Billions of people can now learn college-level material with a click of a button. Even every skilled developer is guilty of using Stack Overflow at least once in their lives.

As a Developer Voices Intern at Twilio, I’m excited to be the person behind the screen. I can innovate, educate, and create content that helps other developers become empowered themselves. Additionally, I am excited for the opportunity to learn from my fellow Twilions as I tread the unknown future ahead.

Johnny Nguyen is an intern developer on Twilio’s Developer Voices Team. He can be reached at ngnguyen [at] or get in touch at