Myles Chatman spent two years working on Google’s self-driving car project, and during that time he also earned a computer science degree online with Oregon State Ecampus. (Photo by Chris Becerra)

It takes an uncommon amount of ambition to work for Google and decide that your career’s upward trajectory isn’t quite what you want it to be.

That’s where Myles Chatman found himself in 2014. He was working for the tech giant when he decided that he needed to enhance his career prospects.

In a strictly literal sense, almost everything is a step down from Google – one of the world’s most profitable, highly respected and innovative companies. Nevertheless, he had a plan.

“Working for Google was great and it’s amazing to have that on my résumé,” says Myles, who has a B.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State. “But I knew I needed to go back to school and earn a degree that would set me up nicely for the rest of my career.”

So where does a person turn after deciding Google isn’t the best long-term solution for them? Myles’ extensive internet research — using Google, no doubt — led him to Oregon State University Ecampus, where he enrolled in the online post-baccalaureate computer science program.

By day, he helped fine-tune Google’s self-driving car project, taking the high-tech vehicle on a public road with a partner to test new software and document behavioral issues.

By night, he studied online from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the work-school balancing act afforded him a unique opportunity. The information he learned in his Ecampus classes helped him do his job more effectively in real time, and his two years of work for Google helped him absorb course concepts.

“Working for Google was great and it’s amazing to have that on my résumé. But I knew I needed to go back to school and earn a degree that would set me up nicely for the rest of my career.”

“I started to see the big picture about how the car project’s technology worked from a software perspective,” Myles says. “Everyone on my team knew I was studying computer science, so whenever they had an issue they would come to me first before asking a qualified engineer.”
The arrangement suited him perfectly, though it came with some sacrifices. He and his wife, Leqi, had to surrender some of their daily routine while Myles juggled his work and school duties. Leqi served as an unwavering source of support throughout his studies, which culminated in June 2016.

And his parents provided the proverbial carrot on a stick that motivated Myles and kept him focused on his original reason for enrolling online with OSU Ecampus: career advancement.

“I always loved that they shared information with me about tech-related jobs and the demand for engineers because that inspired me to work harder,” he says.

Shortly after walking at Oregon State’s commencement in Corvallis last June, he took a full-time job as a software engineer at a startup called Hackers/Founders in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Hackers/Founders touts itself as the world’s largest community of tech founders and developers.

So far, Myles’ career plan is working out just as he’d hoped.

“With this degree, I envision so many possibilities out there that will present so many challenges,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed a challenge in life.”