Developer Journey of a Failure Student
4 min read
In 2018, when I passed out of high school, I did what most Indian high school grads from the science stream do. I took a year off to prepare for the JEE exam that can get me into an IIT. But something strange happened in that one year. Along with preparations, I started experimenting with different skills on the side. I tried digital marketing, some sales, UI/UX design and Web development. As a result, I failed to crack the JEE and went through a rough month of anxiety, self-doubt, disappointment, everything else that society forces you to feel when you fail at something you were not supposed to (according to them).
However, I continued to venture into different things. I then got in touch with Varun Mayya (CEO at Scenes by Avalon) who then introduced me to another gentleman, Tanay Pratap (Senior Engineer at Microsoft) and both of them helped me see my career with a fresh pair of glasses. I was convinced that a college degree wasn't a necessity to do great things in life or make big sums of money, especially for those who can write code - thanks to the Internet. Tanay also helped me narrow down my focus to Front-end development because of the increasing demand for front-end developers and relatively low entry barrier.
At around the same time, I was admitted to XYZ College in Bangalore. I still remember the day when I was returning to Patna with the college admission letter in my hand. Seeing so many zeroes on the letter made me cry on the inside however my father didn't flinch even after knowing that the fee was more than half of his annual income. In that 48-hour train journey, I started running multiple scenarios in my head with all the data I had gathered thanks to my research and Tanay and imagined the worst thing that could happen if I dropped out and realized the worst-case didn't scare me enough so I dropped out. But then came the next phase - convincing parents.
I took the straightforward approach and asked my father to give me one year's worth of expenses to stay in Bangalore and if I hadn't figured out what I wanted to pursue and failed to show any result by the end of that year, I had promised to return and do/study whatever they wanted me to. For the next 4 months, I hardly stepped outside of my small room. NO, I didn't write code for 12 hours a day. I watched web series and wasted quite a lot of time too but rarely skipped coding. I stayed consistent with my efforts whether it was 2 hours a day or 10. (Thanks to Tanay's job challenge).
After building a couple of okay-ish(so-so/mediocre) projects, I started looking for freelance gigs. Tried Upwork, freelancer and some personal connections too. Finally, I did get a few gigs and completed them(mostly unpaid or paying peanuts). Five months down the line, I realized how hard it is to work alone. I wanted to work with smart and kind people from whom I can learn. Around that same time, I was very active on Twitter and shared every little thing I learned or doubts I had. Fortunately, I caught the eye of a senior developer, Ishwar Rimal, whom I approached for some help in one of my projects. He was and is by far the kindest, patient and hardworking person I've ever met and I still remember his lines when he hired me, "I like your energy, we could use someone like you on our team and don't worry about your skills, You'll get better with time."
Ten months since that conversation with my father, I finally had a job (a very narrow escape). Ishwar became the mentor I probably didn't deserve and helped me gain that boost I needed early on in my career. Fast forward to April 2021, I had two offer letters, each paying 15 LPA and a senior developer ready to create a new opening for a front-end role on his team for me. It has been almost 2 years now since I took the biggest decision of my life and today I make more in a year than the entire 4-year fee of that college combined.
Was it scary? Yes. Did I get help from a lot of people? Yes. Did I work hard? Not like Elon but Yes. Did I get lucky at multiple phases? Absolutely Yes. Does this take courage? Lot more than you think.
My point of sharing this journey is not to encourage anyone to drop out or anything but to just remind you that before jumping on any career bandwagon, try to assess your decision from all possible angles. Take the help of people who've done well in those aspects of life and please gather some courage to be ready to go against the norm. Even lady luck helps those who have the courage to at least try. Trust me, there is a big difference between how you assume things will end up and how they actually end up in life.