My journey as a developer so far - Part 2
I ended my previous post by mentioning that I got to work at a company on a contract basis, and I had created accounts in several freelancing websites and that I am hoping for the best. Well, in this post, I will cover what happened after that and where I am today. The goal for this post is that when I read this in the future, I will be able to see how far I have progressed in life and what should be the next step going forward.
TLDR; It went well, and I am currently employed as a full-stack developer and earning pretty well.
The journey goes like this…
After I created the freelancing profiles, I didn’t start getting clients immediately (obviously), it took a while before I got any clients. At that time, I followed Varun Mayya and bought his book, the Pyjama Profit, an extremely simple book with lots of information. If you’re starting your freelancing career, then this book will be my recommendation. For some time, I kept bidding like crazy, with no luck. This is again the classic chicken and egg problem. When you have no reviews on your profile and no experience, you won’t get clients. But if you don’t have clients, you won’t have any reviews. If you have no reviews, then no clients, and so on. The way to break out of this loop is to charge lower and write your proposals in detail.
Finally, I got my first client, and surprise surprise, this person was younger than me and was living in the neighbouring state of Manipur. He had a WordPress website through which he built a local streaming service. It was like Netflix, but the content was targeting only people of his community. He faced some problems with the payment gateway integration, which after some diagnosis, I was able to fix. For that, I had to go into the guts of the plugin’s PHP code. With this task completed, I received my first payment from freelancing. Later, I would custom code his complete website from scratch, using the Codeigniter framework.
I continued my bidding journey, and soon I started getting more and more clients. At some point, I had like five ongoing projects, all of which were paying me. So this was all good for me. Doing the work I love and still earning from it. In the same way, I landed a few internships through which I got a certificate apart from money.
I remember getting one client who would pay me 100 Euros if I was able to build a scrapper in seven days. I built it, and there it was 100 Euros, which at that time was somewhere like 7000 rupees. That was a good income for me to earn in 7 days. A few days later, the same client asked me to write a scrapper for another website, and it turned out that the existing code that I wrote worked for this too. It took me merely 1 hour to reconfigure the old code and bam! 100 Euros again. Amazing right?
All of this was good, but the turning point came when I met Jake Pimental. I bid on his project on the freelancing website, and I had the opportunity to chat with him. His project sounded complicated, but I was confident that I would be able to build it. Still, because I already had a lot of ongoing projects and a lack of time, I nearly said that I won’t be able to do it. He insisted that he would wait till I had some free time. I agreed. After nearly a week, I had a video chat with him, where he explained to me his project, and I agreed. It was a tool for marketers and had to be built using serverless technology. It was a great learning experience. We hired more people. Most of them were my classmates. While working for Jake, I had the taste of what it looked like to work for a startup. I got the opportunity to meet a lot of people (virtually of course). I grew my technical knowledge too by working on AWS and solving a lot of problems.
Other things aside, I got a taste of what a regular income means. And the income that I earned was very good. It was on an hourly basis. I understood the power of Purchasing Power Parity, so basically, $8/hr is lower than minimum wage in the USA, but in India, the same ₹500/hr is more than what most people earn. A dollar in a third-world country has more purchasing power than in a first-world country. You can learn more about this concept here.
During my first year in college, I took interest in the field of electric vehicles. I know this is going to be the future of transport. I took a special interest in the Open Charge Point Protocol. I even wrote an article about that. Turns out, it was a very good investment I made because I got tons of projects just because of this tech. It was a new thing (still is kind of), and not many developers were doing it. There is a startup, which is operating in India, and whose OCPP infrastructure is running on the code that I wrote. This was also good learning and earning experience for me.
At that time, I had a lot of extra money that I didn’t need. So naturally, I looked for ways to save it. Our parents would have just opened a fixed deposit. That’s it. I wasn’t satisfied by the returns it gave. I was looking for something that had the ease of FDs, and the returns of the stock market. Soon I found out about Mutual Funds, which is like a collective investing process. Experienced people would collect money from the public, and then invest in the stock market in return for a commission. I started investing regularly in it, and I still do.
Soon, I explored a lot of what the financial markets have to offer. I tried investing directly in the stock market too but soon stopped doing it, because I didn’t want to keep worrying about the daily ups and downs of the markets. According to me, the best strategy is to invest in companies whose products and services we use daily and then forget about it. Keep investing a fixed amount every month, and don’t worry if the markets crash, as they will rise eventually. Investing is not a 100-meter race but a marathon.
Enough of the finances. In 2020, the covid pandamic broke out. Our college was shut down in favour of online classes. We all were at home. This was the longest continuous period that I stayed at home since I joined a boarding school in the sixth standard, way back in 2010. Ten months! Although we had to attend the online classes, and I was still working on freelancing projects, I had a lot of free time. So I started looking for a full-time job. There was no need for this, and given that I was still in college, no company would have hired me, but there was nothing to lose. So I applied and applied through various job portals. Because I already knew about the power of earning in dollars, I naturally only applied to US-based remote companies. I did a few interviews but failed to get any offer. So I extended my criteria and started applying to Indian companies equally. After applying to hundreds of job posts, I finally landed two offers. And I chose the one that seemed better at that time.
Because I was still a student, HR asked me for a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the college management. Maybe I was naive to think that our professors wanted us to succeed, but I was wrong as no one wanted to give me that certificate. Of course, some professors wanted good for us, but sadly I wasn’t able to identify them. I called many professors, but they all gave me lame excuses like government policy and so on. One professor agreed and he did provide me with a certificate, but it wasn’t exactly what the company wanted. The HR lady was kind enough and accepted that.
So there you go, I had a job without a degree! How cool is that! I started working and learned a lot there too. I was lucky that the person who was my manager was a kind person with a lot of empathy. He was a senior software engineer and was there to help me whenever I needed it.
Soon after I joined the company, the covid restrictions we relaxed somewhat. I decided to get out of home and come to live with a friend. At the time, he was interning at a startup in the city of Guwahati. After so much time just staying at home, it was very refreshing to be out again.
Soon college reopened, and I shifted back to the hostel. There were a few offline classes, which I somehow managed despite my job. During exams, I would take leaves. During this time, I met the woman with whom I plan to spend the rest of my life.
After the final exams, I went back home. I continued my job. During this time, I bought my first vehicle, a motorcycle. It wasn’t a cheap one. Although I enjoyed working at this company, I was still longing to work for a foreign company. First of all, in the current company, engineering practices weren’t up to the mark. There was less discipline, and sometimes I had to sacrifice my weekends. Luckily, I remembered that before I joined this company, someone reached out to me via Twitter, asking if I would be interested in joining their company. But the offer was later withdrawn because I was still a student, and that wouldn’t allow me to put full focus on work. But now, the study was over. I reached out to him again, and luckily, that post was still empty. I interviewed, and they liked me. There was a slight inconvenience regarding the notice period in my existing company. But I was able to manage it because my manager was very kind, and so was his manager. This job switch highly affected my life because I got an almost 4x salary hike.
Soon after that, I shifted back to Guwahati with the same friend with whom I stayed earlier. It has been six months here, and I have also booked my first house where I am planning to live in the future.
Here you go, that’s how the story goes till now. I grew up in a middle-class Indian family, and I have seen how lack of enough money can be a daily discussion topic. I am fed up with that, and I never want that in the future. My goal for the future is to accumulate enough wealth that money will never be a concern again. So far, I have understood that the best thing we can buy with money is freedom.