Kai Yoshino

My day job is being a software engineer at Microsoft.

When I first went off to college, I thought I’d be a business major. But I had a programming class my first semester and I just loved it. A friend of mine was in the class too and we really bonded over that.

I continued to take software classes and business classes but the problems in the software classes were just more interesting to me so I stuck with that. I attended the Information School at the University of Washington where they take a very applied approach to their program.

Senior year I went through the ritual of sending out my applications everywhere, interviewing everywhere. I got an interview at Microsoft and I was very committed to getting a job there. I’d been rejected for an internship and that made me push harder.

My role at Microsoft is in the AI (artificial intelligence) pillar. I work on software that translates English into other languages—in short, I’m part of the team that enables our international customers to use Microsoft products and services. My role is to make sure the bits of software that are handed off to translators, then put back into systems, work properly. If you’ve ever gone into a website and selected the option to see it in another language, that’s the area I work in.

On a day-to-day basis, I’m eithering designing internal systems, fixing internal bugs or programming out these tools. You might be surprised to learn most programmers actually have to know a lot of English because software coding currently relies on English terms. The commands have to be the same every time—it would be too confusing for the computer to understand otherwise.

I wasn’t a kid who wanted to work with computers—I was good with them but not that invested in technology. I actually thought I wanted to be a lawyer. But the more I learned about the job, the more I realized it might not be a good fit—especially since so much of it involves writing papers. One of my friends told me that he experiences writer’s block as a lawyer. I can write code all day and that fits into my brain; I approach it like solving a puzzle.

My most memorable caffeine was the combination of too much Diet Coke and coffee I drank before a group presentation in college. I offered to present for our group and when I got up there to speak, I forgot everything! That was a big lesson for me and one I’ll never forget.

My current caffeine of choice is coffee—I’ve been drinking it since I was in middle school. My parents always drank it and I decided I wanted to try it too. I started drinking Diet Coke in high school, mostly because it has more caffeine that regular Coke. I grew to like the taste of it over time.

These days I like to make coffee using an Aeropress. It’s similar to an espresso machine and built for people who are traveling or hiking. It makes very strong coffee, which I dilute with hot water and drink with really heavy whipping cream.

My favorite place for caffeine is typically my own kitchen. I don’t tend to be someone who goes to one spot—I like to try different ones. I’m from Seattle, which has a lot of really good coffee places. One of my favorites is Chocolati—they’re a chocolatier and have delicious coffee too.

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are Paul Rudd and one of my Japanese ancestors.

I just watched an interview with Paul—check it out. He was a delightful human and is on the top of my mind.

I’d also enjoy meeting one of my Japanese ancestors—with a translator! I don’t have a lot of exposure to the Japanese side of my family and both of my grandparents died before I was born. I don’t know much about my history.

I do know my last name, Yoshino, means “lucky field” so whoever gave me this name was probably a rice famer. There’s also a region in Japan called Yoshino and there’s some royalty associated with this name but I don’t know if it’s in my lineage. All I know is that the name has been around a long time.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: the Israeli-Palestine conflict. There’s so much dug-in hate on both sides—and sadly this is just one of the many issues there’s so much dug-in hate around. If someone could find a solution to these types of problems, that’s where I’d like some clarity.

On a personal level, I’ve always dreamed of owning my own business but I’m not sure what industry I’d like to be in. Both of my parents own their own businesses and I’ve seen how rewarding that’s been to them. Some clarity about what type of business to open would be great.