The blog of Nathan H. Leung — on leaving college, living in San Francisco, and working at a startup.


by Nathan H. Leung

Hi, I'm Nate. I taught myself how to code before college, and I entered the University of Michigan in the fall of 2018, where I discovered interests in math, economics, and personal writing.

College was a serious step up from what I was used to in high school, so one especially late night my second semester, while working on a problem set in the math atrium — I decided I had enough. I needed a break from school.

I began planning a gap year in Barcelona and reaching out to old web design clients from high school for contract software work. Those plans went out the window, though, when I miraculously landed an internship at Google for the coming summer.

So, when school let out in May, I flew out to San Francisco and moved into a place in the Mission District instead. I soon realized that much of what I was looking for in my gap year — the unparalleled personal and cultural growth that comes from living alone in an iconic, bohemian city; a hungry market for entrepreneurial software engineers — was right where I was in San Francisco.

In August, I officially disenrolled from my sophomore year of classes. I got my travel fix in September, zooming across America and visiting Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago as part of a ten-state excursion, before heading back to San Francisco by way of 52 hours on Amtrak.

In October 2019, shortly after the founders completed YC S19, I turned down my Google return offer and joined Jupiter as their first hire. Outside of establishing a strong engineering organization and codifying our guiding development philosophies and practices, I've spent the last few months building end-to-end systems with TypeScript, React, Kotlin, gRPC, and Kubernetes.

I started this little blog to share some of these experiences — I hope you enjoy.

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Carpe Annum

My 2020 Gap Year Playbook (for Startups and Tech)

29 July 2020 · 23 min read

As more and more colleges go online, I've started to get more questions from students about taking a gap year. If you're looking to take a gap year soon, willing to learn how to code, and interested in pursuing a career in tech, here's what I recommend.

A Few Words

On George Floyd

8 June 2020 · 4 min read

On George Floyd, racism, and confronting my inaction.

Playing in Traffic

How to Make a Professional Personal Website for Free

31 March 2020 · 24 min read

This blog is deployed to Europe, Asia, SF, and NYC. It's secured with SSL, updates instantly, and is served from my personal domain. An intro to HTML/CSS, web hosting, and DNS, and how to get this for free.

Why I Dropped Out

From My Freshman Year to Google to a Startup

25 February 2020 · 33 min read

My 2019 in review: freshman year, leaving college, a summer at Google, and joining a startup. Plans for 2020, and whether I'm going back — to either.


Managing My $40K Google Internship Money

20 November 2019 · 13 min read

I made $40,000 working this summer as a software engineering intern. On recessionary woes, high-yield savings accounts, and everything else I've needed to learn to manage this pile of cash.

The California Zephyr

From Chicago to San Francisco by Train in 52 Hours

1 November 2019 · 13 min read

A photojournal of 52 hours on Amtrak, from the Mississippi River to San Francisco Bay. A round trip across America for $500: SJC to LAX to DTW to BOS to PHL to MDW to San Francisco. Some tips for finding cheap flights.

Hello to All That?

Reflections on My First Summer in Tech

16 September 2019 · 26 min read

On moving to San Francisco at nineteen and my first summer in Silicon Valley. What I've learned and why I'm coming back.

4320 Minutes

How I Handled My Suspension on the Common App

20 August 2019 · 12 min read

Why I took three unplanned days off of school the summer after my freshman year. Handling my high school suspension during the college admissions process and beyond. Thoughts four years later.

Getting a Google Internship Freshman Year

11 May 2019 · 13 min read

From application, to interview, to offer — my path to landing a full software engineering intern position at Google as a first-year student, my slightly unconventional hiring process, and a few resources I recommend for those going through the process now.

Rock, Stick, Mud

On Why I Run

9 April 2019 · 12 min read

I was a 4:36 miler in high school, running at least 30 miles per week all year round. Since coming to college, week by week, I've run less and less and less. Some thoughts about getting back into it, featuring my favorite hometown haunt.

A Definitive Proof That 1 > 0

2 March 2019 · 16 min read

The most interesting proof I did in my first-year real analysis course — drawing on the ordered field axioms to prove 1 > 0. An introduction to mathematical reasoning from first principles.

A Guide to Applying to Michigan

On Ross Preferred Admission, LSA vs Engineering, and More

9 January 2019 · 10 min read

Things to know when applying to the University of Michigan — LSA vs. Engineering vs. Ross, dual degrees, Ross preferred admission, AP credit, majors, housing, Bursley or Baits, and more.