by Arun Kumar
How I dropped out and got a job as a developer in India at the age of nineteen
A bit about myself
I’m a nineteen-year-old self-taught web developer from India. I started my programming journey during my freshmen year of college. Computers fascinated me since my childhood. I still remember getting my first computer when I was in second grade. I was glued to it since then. I thought programming would be too complex but I knew I wanted to do something in the tech field.
I was an extremely below average kid during my school years. Failing exams, bunking classes, addicted to YouTube. All I wanted to do was play video games and watch YouTube videos. I decided enough was enough and was planning to improve myself at least after joining college. So that’s why I decided to enroll in B.Sc. in Computer Science after finishing high school. I managed to get into a reputed university in our city. I was very excited and curious to learn everything about computers.
The beginning of college
College was nothing like I expected it to be. Most of my classmates joined Computer Science just because they wanted to get a degree in something. Our professors told us to memorize C programs to pass our exams. They didn’t even bother to explain why we do something the way we do it. My classmates would memorize algorithms like bubble sort, binary search, etc line by line just to get through practicals.
For each semester’s practical, we had about 15–25 programs in the syllabus. Our professor would send us screenshots of programs we had to write on our class WhatsApp group. We had to write all those programs with flowcharts, steps to be taken in a notebook. Before a practical exam, we had to rewrite all of them again on another notebook which we called our “record notebook”. Then right before our practical exam, we had to submit the two notebooks. Only if we had written all of these twice would we be permitted to enter the practical exam.
College was very disappointing for me. It was torture. That’s when I decided to learn to code by myself. I became aware of the resources available online. From Harvard University courses to ten dollar Udemy courses, the number of resources available online amazed me.
That’s when I found freeCodeCamp, during my vacation after the first semester of college. I got addicted to it! I spent my whole vacation solving freeCodeCamp challenges. I still remember calling all my friends and relatives right after completing the first project (the Tribute Page). I was so proud of myself. The fact that I had built something on my own made me extremely happy. Even though my first project was very basic and simple, it gave me confidence.
Everyday right after college, I would go to freeCodeCamp and continue learning. After some time, I started bunking classes to do freeCodeCamp. My attendance got so low that I was not allowed to write exams. I had two choices: to continue college and focus on it full time, or to drop out and learn on my own. So I asked myself what exactly college had taught me. I realized it didn’t teach me anything but it gave me courage. Courage to take the road less traveled.
Convincing my family was by far the hardest part of my journey. After hours and hours of talking with them, I somehow managed to do it. But my parents were still in doubt, since dropping out is not even slightly common in India. I decided to take some time to prepare myself before applying for jobs. During those days, I had a lot of fun. I would work on freeCodeCamp projects, hang out with my cousins, and play badminton. I planned to apply for jobs at the end of 2018.
I already had a decent portfolio (thanks to freeCodeCamp) which really helped my job applications to get noticed. I applied to various companies on AngelList, LinkedIn, Glassdoor etc. Most companies gave me assignments to work on before the interview. About 95% of the companies I applied to didn’t care about my educational qualifications.
After about a month of job searching, I got a call from this company called Unifize. One of the co-founders of the company spoke to me. He made me an offer for a fifteen day trial period, after which if they were satisfied, I would get hired. Two days after the interview, I found this post on his LinkedIn which gave me tears of joy!
After fifteen days, I got the job! It’s been one month since I joined Unifize. I’m loving it!
I would really like to thank Quincy Larson and other team members of freeCodeCamp for making such an amazing platform. I would also like to thank the community for always encouraging me on my journey. And finally, I want to thank Ben Merton, Avinash Sultanpur and Lakshman Thatai for giving me an opportunity. Without freeCodeCamp, none of this would have been possible. Thank you so much, guys! :)