CS Career Prep Course Leads to USF Alum’s Startup

Rong Liew, USF MSCS 2020 alum recently founded and launched Showwcase, an all-in-one platform for tech workers. We caught up with Rong to learn about his journey, from class idea to a new startup hiring Software Engineers, Data Analysts, Internships, and Design.

How did Showwcase start?

Showwcase was an idea that started in class LS307. Taking Professor Jon Rahoi’s Career Prep course, it was a weekly activity for us to go through resumes in class, with the goal of improving each student’s chance of landing that dream job. The issue, however, was that everyone had a different resume format, had no idea what to include, had dozens of resumes stored on their laptops (without a version control system to manage this), and ultimately, that resumes were not representative of the skills, knowledge, and abilities, possessed by our classmates.

I remember us saying “How could we really be condensed down to an A4 sheet of paper, and why are we still passing around A4 pieces of paper in a world where software and technology runs our lives?” It can’t be interacted with. It just doesn’t work.

As tech workers, we’re always building new web and mobile apps, new data pipelines, analysing new datasets, and tinkering on the latest machine learning algorithms. This is how we learn, what we enjoy doing, and how we grow in our careers. As such, when presented correctly, these projects can really help validate your skills and make your background impressive. This is incredibly important in a world where:

  1. 3/4 engineers said they were self-taught, while only 29% cited they had a degree.
  2. Coding has evolved from simply implementing data structures and algorithms to more about understanding the usage of APIs, frameworks, and systems.

We began exploring alternatives, and what we found was: 1. LinkedIn’s boilerplate structure was not optimised for tech workers 2. Github is great for our code, but rigid, and not built as a career platform 3. Personal websites are time consuming, required design finesse, and worst of all, had zero to low visibility when relied on Google’s SEO.

At Showwcase, we’re building a product that will hopefully overcome 99% of these problems. This is very different to just having an “online resume”, or a “portfolio”, this needs a complete makeover. You’ll never need any of those again when we’re done.

Showwcase homepage screen shot

What inspired you to pursue this startup?

We decided to pursue this because over the next decade, every business will become a tech business, and the demand for tech workers is growing exponentially. In fact, Microsoft Research recently released a report showing the increase in tech workers from 41million in 2020, to 191million by 2025 due to digital transformation, and it has only been accelerated by covid-19.

In spite of this, no all-in-one platform exists and is optimised for the way tech workers connect, build community, and get hired, in this increasingly digital economy. We’re building this because we want a platform designed around our workflows, our interested content, and the way we can best match to the best job opportunities for us.

What is Showwcase?

Showwcase is building the World’s Most Optimised Network for Tech Workers to connect, build community, and get hired, in our increasingly digital economy. We provide tech workers an out-of-the-box solution to feature their full range of skills, knowledge, and abilities. We create a network around content and community for tech workers. And finally, a marketplace where we can get hired. You have to check it out for yourself! https://www.showwcase.com

Who is Showwcase for? And how do you forsee people using this platform?

At the heart of our mission is the idea that tech workers will be the leaders shaping the future of our world. Technology will amplify human behaviour like never before, and at the core of every business, idea, and company, will be these tech workers driving us forward – Software Engineers, Data Scientists, Data Analysts, Students, Researchers, Application developers, to name a few.

In a few years, these individuals will be able to create their complete identity on Showwcase. They will use the platform to stay connected with their network of tech workers, stay recent with the latest projects in the community, and manage their career trajectory and job hunt directly within the platform.

How did USF’s MSCS Bridge program prepare you for this startup?

Showwcase would not have been possible without the MSCS Bridge Program. The platform is built on the accumulation of knowledge i’ve gotten at USF over the last 3 years. For instance, every object-oriented design pattern we use at Showwcase was learnt from Professor Sami Rollins (and our codebase is huge!). We also optimise our algorithms and data structures using knowledge we picked up from Professor Olga Karpenko’s classes. Further, some of the Machine Learning and Big Data efforts we are about to pursue are built on top of the models studied from Professor David Guy and Paul Intrevado. Shout out to Professor Matthew Malensek! To tie it all together, Professor Mario’s Software Development Life Cycle class really walked us through the best practices we should adopt when taking a product to market. Finally, I would not have met Jon Rahoi, which has been an invaluable mentor, advisor, and co-founder to this entire process. These are but the tip of the iceberg of how we’ve used our knowledge, and honed abilities to go about our bi-weekly sprints with the Showwcase team.

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