My story as a self-taught front-end developer in Indonesia

Hello guys, it’s my first time posting here, and I kinda want to share my experience getting a job as a front-end developer.

Hopefully it can motivate and even help someone out there :slight_smile:

I actually wanted to do this and have been asked by Quincy Larson a long time ago in reddit about doing this, but me being me, I procrastinated a lot, so, here goes.

A bit of background:

  • I’m Indonesian, having an aerospace engineering degree.
  • Not really into aerospace industry in general, plus aerospace graduate is not much sought locally, which is suck, to be honest. Most of my fellow went into airline (not my turf), plane maintenance facility (from what I heard: mostly following procedure, nothing new can be added; not my thing), and master degree (read below).
  • Decided to suck it up and go learn front-end web development on my own since I love programming anyway. I have a bit C++ background in college.
  • Aerospace engineering master dropout since I didn’t know what I even doing there, just went with the flow of things.

Alright let’s start.

I learnt on freecodecamp for around 2 years (2016 - 2018) with ups and downs. I landed a first job around mid 2018.

For the first one and half year, I didn’t delve hard into web development since I was focusing on my unsuccessful master degree, with a side gig as a physics and math tutor.

On 2018, I started to focus on freecodecamp and my front-end development learning in general. I focused really really hard I didn’t even work on my thesis and meet with my professor anymore, since I actually know what I want to do in my life for once. I even stopped tutoring and barely made ends meet! it was a harsh life.

There’s this one friend (a great one) that helped me motivate myself learning at that time. They even helped me applying to a front-end engineer job on the company he work for, I just needed to build an app to impress his boss + do some technical interview.

I did build the app and do the technical interview, and I failed! I realized I didn’t know shit about javascript, react, and even computer science. I can only use tools. Hard truth.

Damn. I lost my only chance, I thought to myself.

However, I was not giving up. After failed that chance, I kept learning and trying to “pitch” my one and sole app to any platform I can find:

  • All freelancer platform I know.
  • All social media I can think of.
  • LinkedIn

And you know? It worked!

There’s this one guy (a really good one) that seemed interested in hiring me as a front-end developer for his company by contacting me on one of the platform I was using for my “pitch”.

And so I did. I worked for him without any technical interview.

I started immediately from mid 2018 - late 2019. Their engineering teams is really small but very nice and welcoming.

It was a full remote job. That was a bit hard to find locally to be frank, so please don’t ask me for it.

On late 2019, one recruiter from a reputable startup company contacted me to have an interview, and so I did, and I was accepted. This one is more rigorous than my first job: There’s phone screening, live coding a random programming puzzle, and final interview.

Some of this new company engineering features which intrigued me:

  1. They’re using ReasonML + ReasonReact for most of their front-end projects. I didn’t know ANY of it before I was there.
  2. They have one internal tools of deploying, scaling, and building project with ease.
  3. They have one big repository for who knows how many projects in there.

Right now, I’m still having a blast on this company as a new front-end engineer :slight_smile:, I learned a ton!

So a word or two:

  • Don’t give up.
  • “Pitch” your skill and projects EVERYWHERE you can think of. Talk to EVERY FRIEND and FAMILY, to EVERY SOCIAL MEDIA you have. Do it. There’s a chance that a random guy see your “pitch” and interested in hiring you. It’s a bit of luck and blessings, yes, but you need to open your doors for that luck to find you.
  • Keep learning!
  • A friend or two in your learning process won’t hurt, it can even help you sometimes.

Advice for anyone interviewing in a near time:

  1. Prepare but don’t over-prepare. Sleep. Relax. It’s fine. Don’t take it too hard on yourself.
  2. Do some leetcode for preparing any subject you think you’re still having a hard time.
  3. Learn your stack really really well. Javascript job? Learn javascript “wtfs” and subtleties, learn about event loop, rendering process, and optimization tricks. React job? Learn all of its APIs and its advantages over native javascript or other frameworks. Knowing about typescript and other language in general won’t hurt you too, you actually can take that as a strength of your own. I knew typescript and it helped me on my interview since we discussed about the type concept typescript is known for.

Sorry it’s a bit long and not so clear since english is not my native language, but you can PM me (especially for my fellow indonesian) if you want to directly talk to me.

Best of luck everyone.


Thanks for sharing your insights from your first year of working as a developer. It sounds like you learned a ton in the process.

I couldn’t agree more with your advice to job applicants:

Congrats on your new job.

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I think it worth reading Sir…Thanks

It was like reading my own story, especially the part I quit doing my thesis to learn web development. Never met the professor again!!
keep doing the good work.

I ended up doing media at university but always wanted to be an aeronautical engineering. Now Im back relearning coding, its very strange how some people have sort of the opposite story.

Yeah I really learnt from my first failed interview that learning your stack well is as important as the other! Thank you, I did learnt and a ton especially on my current company they’re mostly programming geeks!

Nice, good luck on your learning! Aeronautical engineering is in no way bad, especially how things in the U.S about spaceX, but in SE Asia, I think it’s not really sought after.

lol! yeah I never met him again too, for some months, I wanted to met him again, though, since my thesis is a coding work (computational fluid) but what happened, happens, and I’ve already gotten my “calling” (dunno if I can call it that) as a software engineer.

you too good luck on doing what you do best!

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let me know if you need some help dude :slight_smile: