This week, we had an inspiring conversation with Karlos Boehlke, the winner of our “Quality Toast” competition. The competition was created by and sponsored by Toast, a restaurant point of sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.
This competition challenged applicants to choose an app or product and create a video describing how they would test if it’s working properly. For Karlos’ $3,000 winning submission, he created a video thoroughly testing Sign Up and messaging functionalities of Discord, a messenger application widely used by gamers. Watch his submission here:
Tuan: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? (Please tell us your name, your school, where you are from, what college you attend/graduated from and what career you are pursuing. Feel free to add anything else you might want to share.)
After being born in Indonesia and moving to America when I was three years old, I grew up in the Boston area for most of my life, starting out in Somerville for a couple of years and then moving to Arlington for the end of elementary school and all the way until finishing highschool. After my second year of tolerating highschool I joined the dual enrollment program, which would allow me to take college classes at a community college in place of and at the same time as highschool. Normally this would mean to take one or two classes at the college, but I chose to actually do all of my classes at Bunker Hill. This not only allowed me to gain college credit and experience, but also allowed me to fast track my highschool graduation because one semester in college equalled one year in highschool. After highschool graduation I did another year of community college with a computer science major, which is when I entered some ScholarJet competitions after hearing about it from my father.
Tuan: What feeling(s) did you have when you found out you were the winner of the Quality Toast Competition?
I was extremely surprised, not only because I won, but because I had totally forgotten about my submission.. When I got the call, it was not even in my scope of consciousness that I could have won a competition that I entered almost a year ago. I can’t remember the last time I won a competition, so it was a really good feeling for me.
Tuan: What inspired you for your submission?
I took interest in the Toast competitions because my place of work at the time was an ice cream store that happened to use the Toast POS system, so I was interacting with the software every time I went to work, and I thought that it would be really cool to be able to maybe enter the company one day and be able to improve the things that I thought needed work with the system. I’ve always had a knack for using things learning them really deeply to test their limits and come up with ideas of how they could be better, so I thought that joining a competition about quality assurance would fit my natural skill set pretty well. I used one of my favorite programs that I use every day and know the ins and outs of to see if I could dive into the details of it even further.
Tuan: What do you think makes your submission stand out? Can you share what went through your mind as you worked on your submission?
I think the most likely reason that my submission was able to stand out is because the app I used to demonstrate I really care for and use all the time, so I could think of more easily all the different ways I could test it. I also tried to put nods to Toast in the video to show that I knew about and cared about the company. Maybe it was just my enthusiasm overall. I had to figure out how to record my phone screen, what my chain of events and tests would be, what exactly I would say, what examples I would use, and how to edit the whole video to not be too long. Figuring out how to message myself in real time from a different device was also tricky. I think I covered a lot of stuff and as many cases and features that I could think of to fit in a short ish video. I know it wasn’t perfect, but maybe that added to the charm, and looking back on it I am still proud of what I created.
Tuan: What did you learn throughout the submission process – about yourself, your inspiration, the community or the industry?
I think I just mostly learned how to put together a presentation / video better. It was a really tough process that took a lot of energy, time, and planning despite the end product only being about 6 minutes long. I also got to test my theoretical software testing skills for real!
Tuan: What did you learn about Toast?
I learned that Toast is a pretty cool and innovative company for hosting this competition and having the product that they have. I know they still have lots more to do and I thought that the possibility of joining them on the journey would be a cool thing to pursue.
Tuan: What do you think about ScholarJet’s approach to using online skills-based competitions as a way to get hired and win money to pay off your student loans?
I think it’s really great because you can only gain so much from reading where someone went to school and what their major is and talking to them for an hour. You can really see how someone thinks through and solves problems when they create something for you that encompasses the skills that you would really want to test for. Especially for people not established in an industry and don’t have much or any real work experience, it’s a great way for people to prove their skills and worth without them having to go through the arduous and sometimes luck and connections based process of getting a first job in order to demonstrate their worth.
Tuan: With your hard work, talents, and skills, how are you looking to create a better future?
I’m not sure what my path in life really is, but I do hope I can do work that helps people solve problems and be happier with their lives. That’s the reason I love tech so much, it’s goal is to make people’s life easier and more efficient, and it’s helped me a lot and I want to help it get better for everyone else too.
Tuan: What are two pieces of advice you have for future applicants who are looking to participate in a ScholarJet competition?
If you can, try not to procrastinate on your project like I did. It’s a lot more interesting and fun and important than the usual school project so you should treat it as such and truly do your best because it could potentially change the course of your life. If something looks like it could be interesting to enter, just go for it!
Tuan: If you could have lunch with any person in this world, who would it be and why?
Maybe it’s a basic answer, but I’d love to talk to Elon Musk. He is so incredibly smart and hard working and he just simply embodies nearly all of the qualities that I wish to have. I love the constant improvement and innovation that Tesla and SpaceX do, and it really just shows me that awesome things that improve human life and push the boundaries of possibility are real. Everything he does and has done is really inspiring!
Tuan: Thank you so much for participating in our competition and congratulations once again! We feel fortunate that you are a part of our mission and a member of our growing community.