Breaking into the Software Industry as a Data Analysis Student
A short tale of how I kick-started my web development career after a presentation for a course and what I learned from it.
TLDR: One of my classmates was a founder of a software house and he offered me a part-time role as a web developer.
My story isn't one of those I-got-into-FAANG stories. Honestly, it wasn't even an outstanding achievement compared to others, but it has changed my career path and even my future significantly!
I will also be reflecting on some of the things I did, the decisions I made, and the tools I used.
PS: This article didn't talk much about why I preferred Web Development over Data Analysis, but I am taking a Data Anaysis degree now.
I was a newbie to the field.
I only knew some Python, and a little HTML and CSS. Oh, and quite some Java somehow. (I have read an entire book on Java at that time)
Gym System Project
So here comes the second semester of my degree's first year.
There was this subject named SAAD (System Analysis and Design) which talks about the basics of project management and the main assignment was building an interactive prototype for a gym called One Pacific Health Club.
While many chose to build using Figma, I didn't like Figma and couldn't use it well. So I was like, why don't I build it in plain HTML?
And there you go, after a few late nights, I built a very basic website using Bootstrap and HTML. The presentation went well, and the lecturer was happy.
Honestly, looking back at it now, it's just bad and ugly. There weren't components, so I copied the header and footer on every page. Gosh, the CTA buttons weren't even aligned. I even made about_1.html for the visitor, and about_2.html for users, with no authentication, just links after links.
Somehow, the website was noticed by one of my classmates, Aaron, and it was when I got introduced to the world of web development.
Own Your Event (OYE)
Own Your Event (OYE) was the idea of building an event management web app that helps users in planning their events. It included features like a market place of event services and planners. It was the first startup that I joined.
However, after a while, they realized that the target user group was too huge, so they narrowed it down to only weddings.
Long story short, the startup never gets launched as it didn't manage to gather any sponsors or users after a few months. Needless to say that it went down and became history.
Aaron approached me and pitched his startup idea to me. It was OYE, an event management website, they even had the landing page out already!
The naive me from the past got stunned and convinced by the figures he showed me (profit, market size, etc...). Without much consideration, I just accepted his invitation.
Looking back, his pitch probably won't convince the "now me", but I won't say I made a wrong choice since that decision opened up a new chapter in my life.
Laravel & Vue
Dexter was another programmer from the team who introduced Vue and Laravel to me. For someone who knew no more than Bootstrap, it seemed like magic to me.
The first framework that I came across was Vuetify. It was a great component library, following material design to give it a consistent look, and beginner-friendly.
However, I probably won't use it again because I don't like the Material design as much now. It feels a little bloated for me on the web, but okay for the phone since the phone needs more responses from touch otherwise the user won't know what they're pressing, while a little would be sufficient for the web.
It was also technically starting from this point when I felt like Web Development is more of what I preferred over Data Anaysis.
After coding on small stuff (like bug fixing, adding headings, etc.) for a while, I was finally assigned an entire module to work on myself.
E-Album was like an online album that allows users to upload pictures and customize the album page. More or less like WordPress or Wix's website builder.
As a beginner, it certainly drained my brain a lot, but in the end, the outcome was pretty satisfying! Everything works and it looks nice. What else to expect from a beginner, right?
Even now, it'll take quite some effort for me to come out with something similar to that, so it sure was a proud project.
However, I still remember the codes being like super messy, and it's something that I won't want to look back at. I'd rather redo the entire thing...
When OYE began to lose momentum (not much progress for too long), they invited me to join their software house, Quintagen as a part-time (my classmate, Aaron founded it). I also did my second Laravel + Vue project there.
However, like typical agencies, most of their products are built in WordPress, and that was my main work there for almost a year. Maintaining and building new websites using WordPress.
Won't say it's enjoyable, but I did learn a few things there like basic UI principles, vanilla CSS, and DOM manipulation (Remember how I lack those?). Most importantly, I got paid, so yeah.
Nevertheless, I probably won't want to touch WordPress again. I love coding, and I hate sluggish drag and drop. Anything without modern frameworks' abilities seem limiting to me now.
Where it Led me
With the experience I got, I managed to secure a (paid) internship from yet another startup, SupplyCart, a Procurement SaaS startup that has been founded around 2017-ish (still a startup after so many years somehow).
It was here that I began using Laravel + Vue the right way, like using Spattie's libraries, inertia.js, testing, and Domain-Driven Design. If my previous experience built a foundation, SupplyCart strengthened and expanded it.
The people and culture were amazing, I love working there.
Where I Am Now
While Laravel + Vue combo was my first framework and the experience was quite awesome, but I plan to shift away from it.
The exact reasons will be reserved for another post (totally subjective), but the main reason is the relative lack of job opportunities in my area. React + Spring / ASP.NET are more popular here, which became my current focus now.
Yeah I gave up on data analysis now, just wanted to get a degree for the sake of degree.
If there's one thing that I'd like to conclude from this article is this
Opportunity is for those who are prepared
I did seem to be quite lucky to have a classmate who's working on a web startup and founded a software house (what odds?). However, if I never learn the web basics ahead of time, will I be noticed?
A small preparation resulted in a life-changing opportunity, and I'm grateful that I took the opportunity.
Thereafter, I believe in horizontal development. I start to expand my toolset despite not needing them now in preparation for any future opportunities. Always prepare for the best.