Though Charles Lai had a full-time position at Google awaiting him upon graduation from The University of Texas at Austin, he chose to defer Google’s offer in order to pursue his interest in teaching by joining Teach For America. By taking the time to return to the Dallas community he grew up in and lead a middle school classroom, Charles was able to gain keys skills that he believes gave him a leg up in his role in the consumer operations department at Google. Charles regularly drew on his teaching experience to help people and educate users on products, tools, and platforms while working for Google. He now works as a Product Specialist at YouTube.
Q & A
My TFA experience was very humbling. It made me realize that it was okay to seek out help or leverage the resources and guidance around me. Knowing that there are always people willing to help, as long as you're humble enough to ask, was an important lesson in life.
You may not think there are a lot of directly transferable skills from teaching to a corporate job at Google, but there really are. There’s time management, a lot of planning and leadership—all those skills you learn as a teacher come into play.
My experience with TFA gave me opportunities at Google and beyond that I might otherwise not have had. It also gave me a leg up for the position I’m in now and was instrumental in building my confidence to take on new challenges.