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Why Google’s Next Recruit is a Popstar in the Philippines

Recent computer science graduate Jake Mingus spends his weekdays looking at lines of code on computer screens. He spends his weekends dancing and singing on the computer screens in the Philippines.

While Mingus might look like a regular Joe on campus, once online he becomes one-fifth of the popular Hey Joe Show. The group of friends perform sketches and songs on YouTube—all in Cebuano, one of the languages of the Philippines. The Hey Joe Show has over 800,000 followers on Facebook and millions of views on YouTube, and it all began with a simple desire to connect with the people the group served on their LDS missions.

“That’s the whole purpose of Hey Joe Show, to connect people through social media,” Mingus said. “That’s how the Hey Joe Show got started, [asking] ‘How can we stay connected with the Philippines when we’re in the U.S.?’ And social media was the answer.”

Mingus and his friends in the Hey Joe Show have done more than just connect with the Philippines. They have also toured the Philippines twice, performing over eighteen shows across more than ten cities. Their cheering fans, first introduced to the five Americans through social media, packed malls and event centers. The Hey Joe Show stars have also appeared on various Filipino talk shows and talent shows.

For Mingus, the success came as a bit of a surprise. Only one of the five, Mingus said, is a “great singer,” and the rest are just musical enough to make it work. While on tour, they recorded a music video for their song “My Morena Girl,” which now has over one million views on YouTube.

The sketches and jokes have more appeal to Mingus.

“It was definitely the comedy aspect of things [that interested us] . . . just being able to share our experiences in the Philippines and the cool, quirky things that we learned about the culture when we were there,” Mingus said.

Finding time to maintain the Hey Joe Show was not easy, however. They were celebrities in the Philippines and regular students at BYU.

“It still kind of blows my mind sometimes, looking back on some of the semesters,” Mingus said. “There was a semester where I was working at Qualtrics, got married, was taking four [computer science] classes, and was doing a lot of stuff with Y-Serve. And looking back, I don’t know how I got through it.”

One of the keys to academic success for Mingus was finding more connections—this time, with fellow students in his classes.

“I think one of the biggest things for balancing time, especially with such a demanding major, was having a resource of people within the major that were taking similar classes,” Mingus said. “My first programming job was working in a research lab on campus, and through that I met people that were taking the same classes or who had just taken the same classes. . . . [They] really facilitated my learning and helped ease the burden of some of the more demanding CS classes.”

Mingus will begin his next job as a software engineer at Google in July. He got the job after an almost-missed connection.

“[Google] reached out and sent me a message [on LinkedIn] asking if I was interested in applying,” Mingus said. “It was before I started thinking about applying for full-time jobs. I never even responded to the message. It was probably three months later that I started applying to places that I realized that I should probably go back and respond to that message.”

With three members of the Hey Joe Show moving out of Provo as graduates, Mingus and his friends are going to have to change things up to stay connected with the Philippines—and each other.

“We will definitely continue with the page and do what we can,” Mingus said. “We’re all going to be living in different parts of the States now because a number of us graduated, but absolutely we’re going to keep up the [Facebook] page and try to keep contact going, even if it’s just one person posting at a time.”

Mingus will continue to pursue his ideas and opportunities in whatever situation he finds himself.

“We could have seen the opportunity for the Hey Joe Show and said, ‘We’re too busy with school’ or ‘Nothing is going to come of it,’” Mingus said. “But because we decided to take a chance and run with an opportunity, so much good has come from it and it has been an amazing experience for us. I think it’s true for lots of people, especially in the college, [who] see their class schedule, and they think they won’t have time for other things. But if you find something you care about, there’s always time.”

By Mitch Rogers Posted on