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Brian Li

Hi! I'm Brian and I'm passionate about climate change, wealth inequality, healthcare, and politics. Oh, and TV. I'm notoriously good at binging shows. I know that's a pretty aggressive way to start off an introduction, but I find that it's a bit more interesting than "Hi, I'm Brian. I'm a senior (actually a dropout) at Duke majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Economics." Plus, in professional settings, people have a tendency to just focus on education and work experience. I really care about understanding the people behind the facade, and I find that asking about someone's passions is a great way to get them more excited.

L's Taken


"Thank you for applying but..."

  • Facebook (rejected multiple times) 

  • Google 

  • Amazon 

  • Apple (never even made it past the resumé) 

  • 12 of the 16 colleges I applied to during high school


Things I thought I'd finish but never did


Everyday L's of life

  • Clogging up the drain in the bathroom in Randolph when cleaning root rot out of a banana plant 

  • Meeting with the cops at 3 AM to explain taking down a broken fire alarm from a friend's room 

  • Running into my RA when sneaking a drunk friend back into my room freshman year 

  • Spending a birthday alone and sad thinking that everyone forgot even though my friends had organized a surprise party for me

On the Bright Side


Memories I made when I wasn't working/studying

  • Making boba for dozens of people on Fridays with Bobby 

  • Getting my hair cut by Eleane and Harrison in my dorm room with a beard trimmer as substitute for hair clippers 

  • Watching my roommate from Cali skipping around with joy on his first ever snow day 

  • Playing Code Names, Catan, and Super Smash Bros with friends in Catalyst at 2 A.M. on a Friday 

  • Learning to fall in love with Duke Basketball and waiting in 12 hour lines for games


Things I've learned that will still matter in 10 years

  • Family is important regardless of what tense relationships existed in the years prior to college 

  • The friends and community you build will persist throughout your life and support you when you need it the most


TV shows, movies, and books I've enjoyed

  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (great in audiobook form when jogging) 

  • Friends (probably watched the entire series at least 5 times during college) 

  • I Love Lucy (I'm a sucker for classics, used to hide it from my roommate out of embarrassment) 

  • The Big Bang Theory (finally felt like being nerdy was cool)

  • Avengers: Endgame (the culmination of half of my life) 

  • One Piece (incredible plot, but don't start it unless you have time to watch 900+ episodes)


Things I'm proud of that you won't see on my resume

  • Being there for my friends through their breakups, disappointments, and struggles 

  • Staying up through the night to help classmates with CS250 projects 

  • Making a conscious effort to improve my relationship with my parents 

  • Consistently going to the gym for a semester after failing to do so for the first few years of college 

  • Taking classes in neuroscience and globalization purely out of interest and not for the purpose of career or degree


Unconventional skills


Quirks that make me who I am


Small joys in my life

  • Eating a Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin from McDonalds on a Saturday morning 

  • Getting a hug from a friend when I'm stressed or sad 


Obstacle I've overcome

  • Depression that negatively affected my life and spilled over into the lives of friends trying to help me


Things I've done that pushed me out of my comfort zone

  • Seeking a psychiatrist at CAPS and admitting that there are certain obstacles I cannot overcome on my own 

  • Taking a leave of absence from school (and eventually dropping out) to build a startup even though I'm accustomed to taking the safest path


Failures that seemed like the end of the world back then but don't matter in hindsight


Leaps of Faith


Life events that have made me stronger


Things I wish I knew coming into college

  • Almost nothing you do freshman year will consequentially affect the entire rest of your life so there is no need to feel internship pressure so early 

  • Figure out who you are and what you want out of your life in college because it does not necessarily get easier once you have left school 

  • Don't be afraid of being vulnerable, it's surprising how quickly people respond when you're willing to open up first 

  • Take classes for the sake of exploring new interests, you'd be surprised at how much you might enjoy topics outside of your major 

  • Life is not linear. There is no singular path that you have to take in order to be successful.

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