Melissa Ong had worked at Google for only six months as a user experience (UX) developer when she drafted her resignation letter, planning to hand it to her manager after her first-year annual bonus was paid out.
Ong tells Insider that life at Google was a whirlwind of meetings, phone calls, and user testing that left her too drained at the end of each day to do anything for herself. A combination of a heavy workload and high managerial expectations led Ong to take a mental-health sabbatical from the company three months into the gig, she said.
In January 2020, she followed through, quitting both the job she hated and the tech industry entirely. She would instead move from New York City to Los Angeles to focus on her career in comedy — particularly on TikTok, an app she had downloaded only two months prior.
That now appears to have been a savvy career move: Under the TikTok username chunkysdead, the 28-year-old Ong has since amassed 3.8 million followers, becoming one of the rare superstars who now make a living off the viral-video app.
"I have this unique story of Google to internet ass shaker," Ong said.
She now describes her job as being a full-time "shitposter," with many of her TikToks dealing in raunchy jokes about sex, drugs, and other R-rated topics.
She first found attention on TikTok early last year with a series of parodies of pornographic movies in which she wore a chicken suit, sparking her followers to start a self-described cult around her. More recently, she racked up 5.5 million views on TikTok with a song called "Drink It, Smoke It, Snort It, Shoot It."
She studied cognitive science at UC Berkeley, but says the only parts of her higher education she truly enjoyed were "sitting on the toilet" and scrolling through Reddit to find memes to send her friends, and making Snapchat stories. She fantasized about making comedy her career, but felt that tech was the only way to have "a good life in capitalist corporate America."