Samuel Zemedkun is a software engineer at Uber, but, obviously, that’s not where his story starts from. He has shared the story on Uber Engineering‘s blog.
It started from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he worked with his father who made traditional fabrics, weaving one thread at a time, for a living.
Weaving is a family business in Ethiopia, and Samuel, his mother, and his five younger sisters were involved in his father’s business.
At age 12, he was supposed to graduate from preparing threads to making fabrics, but that meant that he was going to stop schooling, and his father didn’t want that. So he kept him in school, working twice as hard to provide for the family as he was the only one weaving.
Sadly, this lasted for only three years and the industry experienced some down times. His father considered having him drop out of school to weave at 15 when he was in 7th grade.
His teachers came to his rescue. They found a way to help him make extra income for his family – he began tutoring students in lower grades in mathematics and science and this went on for 3 years.
Samuel won a scholarship in his 10th grade and moved to Hong Kong to finish his high school education. Then he won another scholarship to study Physics and Mathematics at Colorado University, USA.
“As I had before, I worked for 20 hours a week as a tutor and librarian, enabling me to provide financial support to my family back home. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I continued my education at the University of Colorado, Boulder by enrolling in a Ph.D. program where I first encountered programming and machine learning concepts. I found machine learning so fascinating that I turned to Coursera and other online resources to learn as much as a I could,” Samuel said.
Samuel began his relationship with Uber, working as a driver-partner with the car-hailing company to cater for his family while he participates in a data science bootcamp.
“I found driving with Uber to be the perfect weekend job. I loved the flexible hours, which allowed me to attend the data science bootcamp Monday through Friday and earn a living during the weekend….A week after completing the data science program, I got a job offer from a small ad tech company in the Denver area as a data scientist. My degree in mathematics and physics, coupled with my research experience and data science immersive program, made me a competitive candidate,” he said.
Three years later, in 2017, Samuel joined Uber as a software engineer, working with its Marketplace Forecasting team.
Concluding his piece, Samuel said: “Now, as an Uber rider, when I get matched with a driver who is going to school, I make sure to share my story in the hopes that it may be a source of inspiration for them.”