So I wanted to make apps…
This is my story of how from naive 17year-old I manage to get to the level I am now…not sure what’s the level called though…
My first experience with apps
It all started with when I got my first ‘smart-device’. It was Ainol Tornado tablet with android 4.0.4 with no chance to upgrade. It was a total piece of crap, but through that little annoying 7" screen I learned English at pretty good level by watching Top Gear UK all the episodes twice. Mean while I got curious on why apps make so much money and how could I make one. (In Play Store you could’ve see the rate of downloads of each app and the price). So I started to look into how app’s are made, downloaded all the tools needed and started exploring the app’s internals. I found out about this weird file in Project folder — MainActivity.java. Got to admit, at first time we met I deleted it. Like why do I need it if the stuff in there is weird and makes no sense? 26 minutes and 3 seconds later I realised I’ve made huge mistake. I was told by some tutorial that thats the code file and normal app has like hundreds of these files with many lines in each of them. To be honest that was very disappointing news. And for couple hours I was thinking of deleting everything and move on with my life.
Fun tutorials saved my interest
Luckily however, I found thenewboston.com android app development tutorials made by very awesome guy name Travis if I recall it right. And he inspired me. His tutorials were on point and easy to understand. Like how to make button do something and show it on screen. I would’ve never kept my self in this game is someone would’ve forced my to learn theory of programming — it’s incredibly boring and to be honest pointless. Like with human languages — you can perfectly know the theory of the grammar but when someone starts to talk to you, you’ll not understand a thing. It is better to learn things in fun way when you can see the result of the process immediatly. So I kept watching these and many other tutorials of how to make all sorts of things in the app.
Transition to iOS
And at some point I realised that android environment in the shape it was back then was a frustrating piece of sh*t.
I was looking at alternative options and iOS seemed like the greener grass option by a mile. Since I didn’t have any kind of Mac I had to improvise. I found a way to hackintosh my Acer laptop. Spent two weeks on tweaking it to make it work. But it was totally worth it. The Mac OS X 10.9 was screamingly fast on the fairly old and outdated laptop. So I worked in such environment for almost a year. The overall experience was at completely different level by comparison to android eclipse.(pun intended)
So in that year I got my first iOS app ready for sale in App Store – it was a web browser called Starfly. Couldn’t submit it because somehow Apple discovered I am from hackintoshed PC. So I got very old iMac 8.1. And ever since then I don’t want to hear about any non-Apple devices. The iMac just worked without any PC like problems even though it had a long beard.
At this point it was clear that individual app developer without power ball type of luck will not succeed in App Store. So there was only one option – look for a job.
My embarrassing job hunt
So I went on the internet and found a looooot of jobs…which was amazing news… At the time had no idea about the hiring processes or what should I even know to qualify. So I got the first interview request all the way from California. I still remember the excitement and nervousness I had, because I literally haven’t talked about coding with anybody. At that time I haven’t talked with anybody in English. So you might understand why my hands and legs just went numb when the Skype showed incoming call notification. I had no idea what to say, how to act, or what’s this about. Even though the person on the other side was really nice I still feel the embarrassment.
It turned out I can’t even theoretically go to US because I don’t have degree in my profession. Arghhhh…
So after I healed myself after that kind of interview I had to come down from the fake clouds I built for myself and apply for jobs in Europe. So the marathon started. The thing is I didn’t know enough about the coding. I knew so little that I didn’t even know what to learn. I didn’t even know what REST is. I just went to interviews to learn. My goal was to perform the interview at least at the level that they would send me a coding challenge so I could train myself. Luckily every week I got at least 4–5 interview with at least one code challenge. Every week I got better and better, but the opportunities were wasted.
What I see now looking back is I had lack of mentor. I was trying to befriend someone from inside to understand the what do I need to learn to get better and qualified for this game. But I felt like a bargain to anyone I had a chance to talk to so I kept fighting on my own.
Few months in my job hunt I got called from company in Canary Wharf, London. I had to a simple and still exciting test which I did in the same evening. And….I didn’t hear back from then for two months. Finally when I already had forgotten about them the recruiter called and said that I didn’t do the test that great but they’re still interested. Since king time was already passed I double checked the test and realised it was complete crap. So I quickly redid it and saved as a .zip file. Luckily in the interview I had a chance to drop the file in and showcase my growth. And since I got hired apparently they liked it.
The first month in the office.
That was one hell of the time. In the first day in office I had a little meeting with my supervisors and I only understood 50% of what’s being said. Not because I didn’t know English, but because I had no idea what the terms like ‘scrum’, ‘standup’, ‘MVVM’, ‘CI’, etc means. I tried not to show of that I’m lost and just faked it. I went to my office laptop and started to do things with smart face expression like – I got this. But in reality I had no idea if I even open the Xcode right. Because I never saw anyone doing it so I might’ve done it wrong all my life.
Luckily though my technical supervisor bought my face – and he seemed to think that I actually got this. And this kind of trust helped me a lot. Couple days later I started to enjoy what I am doing. That’s until first code reviews came back. Oh god. I had to redo everything. Even the project was setup wrong. At the time I was taking things personally and bad code review kinda hurt me. But later when I saw that everyone in the team is getting bad reviews and writing them bad it got easier and I understood the purpose of them.
Later on I got the hang of it. I stopped taking things personally and was trying to be more professional. The idea is to get better every day. And it’s not gonna possible if everyone’s gonna blow smoke up your a** telling how awesome is the things you do. After couple months in the team I started to ask to my supervisor everyday why did he hire me. My code at the time of hiring was sh*t. Apparently he managed to see my potential and ability to learn, which I guess is a rare thing.
I was the only 21 years old guy in that company. And the company was around 400 people.
Every time someone asks me about my educational background I reply by asking of where he was at 21. Probably in some bullsh*t delivery organisation like college or something. I mean I don’t see a point to go 5 years or so to just sit in the class stare at some professor that in most cases is stuck 2 centuries ago. And you have to pay for that. And then when you get out from the prison you’re old already. And guess what? You still have to get out and acquire the usual 2–3years of experience. And at that point you’re around 30. So I like to think I am at least 8–10 years ahead.
My next job…
So as the contract with company in London ended I had to look for job…again…
It didn’t take me long to land very comfortable opportunity in Malta. I had a chance to work remotely which was the most awesome 6months ever.
Sadly though as I write this article the startup I worked for didn’t receive the investment money and died.
But on the bright side I learned a lot and I have way more confidence of things I’m doing.
Right now looking for another opportunity…again…
So again I’m hunting for a job. My goal is to get in the team with at least one person that we think alike. The reason I wrote this article is that my potential coworkers could understand me better and make well informed decision in whether to hire me or send cold rejection letter.