Dev Retro 2022 - Reflecting on My Journey as a Web Developer
So, this is a long one,
Are you guys up for a story?
Ohoohoo, let's do this! 🤗
How It All Started?
I mainly developed an interest in programming because I thought it was cool & to also hack my school's computers.
Which... I never was able to, obviously.
You can't really access remote computers with
ssh email@example.com or
ping 192.168.0.1 can you?
I used to spend long hours digging into the internet and reading bits & pieces about programming. The first language that I coded in was Python because of its ease of use.
Back in the day, I used to use a platform called Sololearn. (a great platform for beginners btw) days of doing problems & practising on hackerrank passed by and I became good at Python.
Deciding to now learn EACH & EVERY language available at Sololearn (I get it, it's kinda dumb, but I did it anyway).
Python, C, C#, C++, Ruby, Java, Kotlin, Swift, HTML, CSS & I guess maybe more, I don't remember them much (also, this is no joke, I still have those certificates that sololearn gave after completing a language).
After, when I finished learning every freakin language on the planet, during the days of 2020 September, when I was in 11th grade, I saw Clever Programmer, building clones of these popular apps like Netflix, Spotify, etc.
It was so cool and being the impatient being that I am, umm... I set up my environment for node and started typing words that at that time seemed gibberish to me, similar to
npx create-react-app myapp and opened up VS code.
I wrote a thread about this a while ago, you might wanna check it out:
And there I was, LEARNING the language WHILE building stuff with it. And tbh, following that strategy got me off the ground quicker.
It was like lazy-loading but for knowledge.
When I joined that first (unpaid) internship in 2020 december, imposter syndrome was really really heavy, but I moved scared anyway. Got my first task and did it wrong twice. But I still kept on trying, calming myself down by saying "if I'm unpaid, my failures don't matter to them anyway!" (now that I think about the times when I bombed their pages out of existence, I guess they did :p). a couple of months passed by of hardship but densely packed with hands-on knowledge, I finally started to do better.
I'd still f*ck up (a LOT), but my time to recover from that f*ck up was getting shorter & shorter.
When the internship ended in August 2021, I dived into freelancing (that dive was hard as f*ck), no proposals accepted, no profile & gig views and dozens of people competing at a $5 job.
After making 10s of proposals every day for around a month, I got a project.
To develop a full API-integrated 8-10 page frontend of a website they were building.
At the time, when I was applying for these jobs, I always thought of how one could get that job and almost never about how one should charge for it.
So, I did their entire front end for 6000 Rs, Yeah... my pricing scheme was f*cked up.
After getting some reviews in my profile and constantly applying to jobs, I started getting small projects, rather slowly but consistently, almost every month until December 2021.
When I got worked up.
Had my first burnout.
It felt really weird.
It was like "I want to code but man I really don't want to code any longer!"
2022 for me started with burnout and I remained worked up for about 2 months. Doing a little along the way, but still, I didn't code for too long in a day and there were days when I didn't open my laptop.
That period sucked, but as I was going through 12th grade, the finals were also coming. Personally, I didn't really give a f*ck about studying too much, just getting an average 60-70% was fine for me.
After a nice break and concentrating on some completely different stuff (Physics, Mathematics & Chemistry) I started to sort of, come out of the burnout and started recovering the enthusiasm that I previously had.
2022 - Things start to get better
2022 was a big year for me and a lot happened this year.
With 12th-grade finals also coming and me wanting to do more with the current web dev skillset I have, I continue to learn more & more about React but keeping it low while studying for the exams.
Exams pass by and I continue on to my desire to get better at developing Full-stack websites.
All of this while, I was thinking about a possibility, a possibility where I can skip the part where I go to college.
I've seen people do it, I've heard my Youtube mentors talk about it and I myself am a fan of learning on my own who also happens to hate how the curriculum is set up, at least here in India it's an awful experience. exam-oriented learning sucks everywhere I guess 🤔
And, by this time, I have made my decision, to at least TRY.
Try, getting a job or try getting at least some decent success at landing freelance clients.
Now, this decision wasn't something that I took over a week, it took me the whole of 2021 to come to the conclusion that, "maybe, this could work" & the fact that I can learn on my own, at my own will, the topics that I like, was a significant deciding factor.
So... I gathered up the courage and spoke to my parents.
At first, they went in COMPLETE DENIAL and said that I'd gone crazy watching videos on YouTube, etc. but after like 20-30 mins of me explaining why I want to do things this way, if it is even possible to do things this way & why I'd be happy doing things my way,
They agreed and gave me a year, to explore myself and to basically prove that yes I can sustain myself by choosing this route.
I couldn't be more grateful to them, for understanding me and being WITH me for this whole journey and if I look back at that moment, I realize now that, the only reason that they agreed was realizing that, I'd be happy
After this decision, the REAL HUSTLE for me started.
I started writing, I started coding more & more, applying to 100 internships & landing offers with 2 or 3, also, getting a recurring client was also a big achievement for me because that showed me that, people liked my work.
Joined, completed & left multiple internships & freelance projects. This was also a growing concern for me- Immediately leaving some of the projects that I joined after a week because I wasn't growing there.
I talked about this problem too in a Twitter thread, you might wanna check it out:
Doing these internships for too long, also made me feel restricted, a part of me didn't like doing a daily 5-hour routine, it became kinda boring to me & made me feel burnt out several times.
That's why, my main goal became not to consider their stipend & tech stack only, but also to give significant weightage to my decision to join a project with the "human" factor, as I like to call it.
In some of these projects, the people I was working with had little to no enthusiasm for the work they were doing, it was like working with robots, and working in these types of environments sucked out my energy.
I HATED THAT.
I made some harder projects to show on my portfolio website, harder than I've made before, along the way.
Learnt more about these newer technologies that made work 2x easier and some of the most effective ones in my list are: TypeScript, Next.js & Tailwind. (I use them almost every day & have never regretted using them)
While doing all of this, I faced doubt many times questioning "can this be a mistake, am I wasting my time doing this?" but I still kept on doing it anyway.
All of this time when I think back, for me the most motivating thing that I'd say to myself during a burnout or low times has been:
Ahh, f*ck it, I'm doing it anyway
And it helped me cope.
And, during all of this sort of self-doubt while my parents asked, what's gonna be the next move? Because the year was running out, suggesting to maybe pursue college next year (although they didn't want me to worry, I'd still be worried because I'd come far enough that I didn't want to go back!).
In between all of this, mid-November 2022, something happens...
I was doing interviews with people from different companies that I'd apply to in my free time and 1 such startup from AngelList called me up and asked me for a technical interview, scheduled it for the next day.
I joined the call and introduced myself & they presented a test problem to me.
The problem was to paginate & create a UI menu for the deeply nested JSON object returned by their sample API.
I've been doing this stuff in my current internship and in some of the projects that I built for my portfolio too, so it seemed pretty easy to me.
I completed the solution in under 30 mins on-call and by their expression, they were quite impressed.
After the call, I waited for a day & I was called again for a 2nd round non-technical round interview with their founder, a REALLY NICE GUY & we discussed a lot of things including what I'm doing, the importance of the route that I chose & about what their company does in the web3 space.
And after the quick "get-to-know" call, he extended an offer!
I was flying in ecstasy that day, when I told my parents about it, they were happier than me I can tell that!
I had a long talk about it with mom & dad and seeing their happy and rather calm faces showed that, yes I was true, there ARE people there, that need people like me, without a college degree yet ready to learn. those people can be less in number, but YES! there is hope.
The other day, they sent me an official offer letter...
Now, all of this while, I was told that this was a strictly on-site job & I kinda agreed with that, but I was reluctant. Because, already, it was a 6-day, 9-hour job.
In the offer letter, when I read the address, my heart sank, one-time commute to their office location was 1.5 HOURS, 3 HOURS OF COMMUTE EVERY DAY, MONDAY-SATURDAY.
And, tbh this was the deal-breaker for me, as much as I really wanted to work those people & desperately at this point, wanted a job, I couldn't manage to spend that much amount of time on a single thing, of which 3 HOURS was a total waste.
You might think that, if you were in my place, then, you would've accepted the offer, but with me the thing is, I struggle to focus, having ADHD makes working on committed routines ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to me.
ADHD might have been the cause of me leaving projects immediately after joining.
I just can't stand a boring environment.
It might have also been the cause of several burnouts along the way. But, I kinda like having ADHD, because it may have been the only reason that kept me going all this time. I got ADDICTED to code, due to ADHD!
Coming to the present day when I'm writing this article, Christmas.
Thinking back, I am certain of one thing, that this year has helped me understand more of what I like, what I'm good at & what I don't like.
Going ahead, I kinda don't know if I should keep on applying for more jobs or maybe start working on the GIGANTIC NOTION PAGE full of ideas.
But... WILL SEE! 😉
Merry Christmas and a Happy new year, friends 🥳
And thanks to Hashnode for providing this collective opportunity to share our different yet similar stories ✨
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