How I landed as full stack developer
This story tells about how I became a full stack developer, learning throughout my career and up & down side of journey.
15 min read
I am Avinash Shashikant Dalvi currently working as Software Engineer II at Eagleview, India. Working as full stack developer. My stack has been full stack since I started my journey. 2021 year was full of Covid year but for me there was lot of new things happen like
- Started as technical speaker globally
- New role as developer as Software Engineer II ( It was a non lead role and I was managing technical lead from past 7 years ).
- Medium blog reached more than 25K views and 50% reads.
- Started sponsoring open source projects.
- Many things
To start all things and achieving was not so easy so far. Base was set earlier in the initial years but started all these things later in career. Someone said "Nothing is late if you start ". When I saw all this then I thought of looking back as a mirror of what I have done so far in my whole career. Then I found an occasion to celebrate and write about my journey.
On 1st July 2020 I completed 10 years of my career as developer. Journey was full of ups and downs along with good exposure and knowledge gaining period. Important note: learning still continues...
“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King
So, I thought of sharing my journey of 10 years with you all. I made some mistakes along my journey with some good experiences which might help you guys (fellow Full stack developers/learners) learn and grow.
To be frank, I am not a great or expert person. In simple Layman terms I am JUGAADU ( Jugaad ) person who know how to solve problem by trying out all the ways to achieve it.
Where did this full stack development enthu come from ?
One might think I started my journey as a full stack developer right after starting my first job or made a switch mid career. Interestingly to answer this, I started my journey as a full stack developer back in my engineering days.. My Hunger for learning and trying out new things by myself brought me into this. But wait...engineering last year's project did not attract me to choose this. There is a small story behind this.
While studying engineering I struggled to get information related to projects because of some issue. That time I was not aware of StackOverflow (not sure if it was there or not). Hence I thought of making my own resource website for sharing information & knowledge with communities to help friends. Taking it forward I started working on the concept of
FriendsInfo.in. Tagline of website was "Friends-Mania...its way to contact with world". To make this effective I started doing everything like designing, hosting, coding, photoshop all by myself. Since the very start, I never liked to depend on something or someone to get my work done. All this learning made me think about full stack development. This is how I became full stack along with jugaadu.
Luckily I found the second revised version of friendsinfo.in website. That time I was not aware of Github. So, I couldn't back those. Found this one 👇🏻
Later this friendsinfo revolved to internetkatta.com. With more article and more learnings.
Never easy for me coming from vernacular medium
English was not my favourite language neither I am an expert in English. This has been the case since I started learning the language in school. I could only manage to get passing marks. Students used to mock me when the teacher would ask me any questions in engineering. Even if I knew the answer, I wasn't able to give an answer due to lack of confidence in English speaking and command over it. I struggled a lot but I was able to win the fight against that. I did activities like reading newspapers, watching english movies, targeting daily word learning, reading books ( specially I tried Sidney Sheldon, I think those books help me more) etc. Even today, I may not be an expert in English but I can deliver speeches, debate ,and write content in English confidently. You can see my sessions delivered so far here is available in portfolio.
Start of journey
I started my career as an asp developer in Mumbai on a salary INR 2500. This was only for two months. There is another story behind leaving that job. This was my first salary while my friends were earning in the 20-25K range. But I never felt ashamed of this. I come from a financially average family background.. I never stopped there, I started teaching students in programming classes for C, C++, VB, MySQL, HTML designing and freelancing work. This gave me the opportunity to brush up my knowledge and try out different technology stacks. This is also one of the reasons behind full stack development.
Why I left my first job within two months is to prepare for the GRE and TOEFL. I had a dream of higher education abroad (dream of every Indian). I tried the GRE to get good marks (1150/ 1500) but I failed to get passing marks in TOEFL (tried twice and failed both times). Then I left my dream of education abroad. But this failure gave me confidence in my English speaking and writing.
"The one who falls and gets up is stronger than the one who never tried. Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying." ― Roy T. Bennett
One of my favourite line is "Zero is always greater than nothing!" This line always motivates me whenever I feel like failure.
First year of career like
-> Two months asp developer -> Four months of GRE preparation -> Part time job for 4 months vb.net developer -> 3 months of html editor job.
After these many changes in my job I got good exposure for technology while doing freelancing in the same period. These jobs also taught me many things like simple HTML designing without using any rich editor ( notepad only ) and without internet 🤪
Career took U turn :
Finally, I got a good opportunity to work on a stack which I would like to work on. My favourite language is PHP ❤️.
<?php echo 'I <3 PHP'; ?>I started learning PHP in engineering. Even my college project was also built in PHP and friendsinfo.in too was in PHP. I have learnt core JAVA too but JAVA doesn't attract me much. In this company, I worked on an e-commerce platform which was built from PHP & MySQL. I also got an opportunity to learn iSEO during this job ( Search Engine Optimisation). Anyone who wants to know about SEO (internetkatta.com/want-to-know-about-seo) read my blog.
Sometimes what you feel is good might turn out to be better in future. An incident happened in my company where the manager was doing server maintenance and he forgot to take db backup ( running almost 15 main websites and 100 micro websites which were earning ones) after his work completion he went on leave. We didn't know about this. Unfortunately that day we all four team members sat and tried to restore db backup from
ibdata1 file and google cache engine wherever
ibdata1 file was not there for those tables updating data from latest google cached data. That night we all went home next morning at 4 AM. But even if it was a bad incident it gave us a lot of learning. So after this incident along with me 3 other developers also resigned one by one and I left that job ( don’t worry I never resigned without another job offer ).
Next opportunity was the turning point of my career not only as a developer but also for a leader inside me ( I like leading by example and mentoring people). Luckily I got a good mentor in the role of CTO, founder, manager or teacher or friend who pushed me and gave me the opportunity to rise. Similar person who was founder of company and his name is Anil Gerla who picked me and saw leadership potential in me to drive work and selected me as tech lead of PHP team within 6 months of period at Sodel Solutions. This period I can say is the golden time of my career where I grew professionally and financially in the right manner. One thing Anil sir always mentioned is that while working always keep your backup plan handy and this tip helped me a lot while working on migration of sites or hosting or changing NS records etc work. I worked on multiple projects like e-commerce(Magento), educational, branding, advertising etc. One learning I got is never share your salary details or hike with friends ( colleague ). I did one time then I lost some trust with my colleague which took more time to bring it back. I worked here for more than 3 years with lots of knowledge gained.
Last days of Sodel, while searching for another opportunity, I got an opportunity to work with a startup which was built by our team while I was in Sodel ( HotelsAroundYou). So, out of the other 2-3 offers I picked this because I am a big fan of startups and initial tech companies where we always get a lot of learning and exposure to do everything on our own. One thing I would like to mention which I forgot early in the story. I never tried for big MNCs ( where I tried never taking seriously aptitude forced by parents to apply there 😉) just because of learning and exposure was less compared to smaller companies ( Note: There are always some exceptions. This is my personal opinion). Owning things and delivering expected output has become my passion since childhood. Apology for diverting little bit 😅.
So, I joined HotelsAroundYou as tech lead but without any team. I had to set up a team along with multiple tech initiatives like integration with third parties for the hotel booking system. It was challenging but I enjoyed that role and was able to justify it. While working with this company I got a good sense of how to run a startup, startup struggle for investment, investor pitches or stocks etc terminology and their meaning. Unfortunately, HotelsAroundYou was unable to survive more than 10 months after I joined them.
This was a more challenging time for both my career and personal life too. I got married and just after a year was completed I shifted to Bangalore hoping that HotelsAroundYou will survive after the office was shifted to Bangalore ( I had heard Bangalore has many opportunities). Unfortunately they couldn't survive but they helped me till I got a new job. It was a bit difficult to search for a job in a new city with a different language. Luckily my wife got transferred to the Bangalore office. I came to Bangalore keeping in mind that even if I don't get a job , I should be able to survive 3-4 months. I was struggling financially as I was paying EMI for the house where my parents were living in Mumbai. So, it was like we had to survive in Bangalore plus there was EMI obligation too.
Your struggle always ends with good things when you try relentlessly. And yes after giving so many interviews I got offer in company named KNAB finance ( Another start up 🤪). KNAB finance was another golden time and amazing period of career in terms of personal growth and leadership skill which I got from my mentor and CTO of the company Thomas Varghese. He was not only my boss ( he was the actual leader) but my good friend. I grew here from technical leader -> Senior technical lead in those four year of KNAB finance. I was selected for UI lead but after seeing my full stack skills it was changed to technical lead. There is separate story about KNAB finance experience here I will not stretch that story more here. Just some of the highlights I would like to share about those years.
In KNAB I played an interim role of product manager, UI and UX decision maker, UI architect, SEO engineering, hiring and setting up initial core team, networking support along with full stack development. So many roles and so much learning out of it. It was never easy to manage stakeholder and many team ( sales, credit, operations, finance) while developing and delivering feature when everything is on priorities 🤪. Always keep note of one important thing: you should learn to say NO. There should be the right way to say no because you should not hurt anyone or prioritize their things too.
There was one incident I would like to share about VPC creation on AWS cloud. I had never done this before or not even much aware about VPC. Thomas told me, As security we have to create a VPC and put all AWS components under VPC to secure them. At first I was clueless but then he told me, I know you can do that. Yes, I have successfully created a VPC network after so many trials and reading about it and it is stable till now. There was a situation whereI got stuck that time one of Thomas's friends helped me in resolving that.
Sodel and earlier companies gave me ecommerce domain expertise and KNAB gave me finance domain expertise. I will always be thankful to them for giving me this opportunity. Another learning about leadership is leadership is not only leading people like a boss but leading with example and lifting them along with you. I can proudly say KNAB tech was one of the best teams I have ever worked with. It was like there is one famous food dish in my place Maharashtra MISAL PAV exactly similar.
I am a person who believes a team should not have the same skillset, it should be balanced like one will be who would write best of codes, one will be who would deliver the output first, one who understands UI ( customer angle), one who understands scalability ( server side ) etc. I think one can use this recommendation based on my experience of building a team from scratch. Build team like MISAL PAV(each team member having a special skill-set that would help the team achieve goals better).
Open source kick off
Apart from the professional side I met many people who inspire me to kick off my journey in open source communities. I thankful to having supporting parents and wife in whole journey. I would like to say thanks to them.
- Pankaj Parkar ( My junior from engineering college )
- Dhananjay Kumar ( who tremendously working towards creating good developers)
- Santosh Yadav ( I met him on twitter and I got inspired from his contribution towards open source.)
- There are many people
I started my OSS journey first by contribution to Mautic platform. I have kept that screenshot 👇🏻 This was started when I was exploring lead generation platform in KNAB and found some issue. I have written some code examples and made them public to help other developers. You can find those repositories here .
Second kick off was starting to actively engage on StackOverflow. I have been using StackOverflow since the start but never upvoted any question or answer. I didn't know about the importance of this. After having a discussion with Pankaj I got to know about this. I might have not contributed greatly like many StackOverflow experts have already done but I am happy that at least my answers or questions are helping other developers. One of best question asked by me and answered by me is stackoverflow.com/questions/50299204/receiv.. Till date I have answered more than 300 questions.
Recommendation to all developers is if any answer helps you upvote both answer and questions. By doing this you are not going to lose anything but this upvote gives appreciation to the developer who did this job for you. I feel this is part of being grateful to the community and it’s a must have habit for overall personal growth.This motivates contributors to write more helpful answers. Answering questions does not always require expertise, I will say take this as learning or challenge and solve those questions. I did the same thing, some of the questions were totally new to me but I tried to solve them by experimenting. This helps you to learn new things and gives more exposure. Also along with StackOverflow follow Github issue whichever repository or library you are using.
Starting as tech speaker
Lately, I realized that I should start sharing my experience or development tips or tactics with communities. If I am able to help even a single developer that will be a good contribution towards the community. I am thankful 🙏🏻 to Udhay for giving me my first opportunity to share my knowledge. After this I have given almost 7 sessions so far and participated as track lead in the Mauticon conference. Got rejected few time too 😅. I don’t mind that rejection as it gives me another opportunity to learn and try to impress them to select me in future. When you have experience of full stack development and are not an expert in individual stack it is always difficult to choose what to give a session on and where to contribute. Sometimes I am ambivalent about where to go. I have delivered sessions till now on AWS and Angular. Never get a chance to speak on PHP ( Hopefully in the coming year I will get that).
Don't worry, I am going to finish the story. Below claps for not only the story but the reader who read this.
Frankly, It is not easy to manage your work and passion along with your family. Luckily my work itself has become my hobby so that tackling between hobby and work is not there.
What next ?
Recently I got selected as AWS Community Builder. As a part of this you may see me writing and sharing more about AWS. After PHP my❤️ goes to AWS. Many things are in plan but I'm not sure how it is going to reach its destination. Some of these things look like :
- Drafted index for book on AWS ( After drafting index not even started single page 😂😂 hoping to finish by this year end )
- Completion of AWS Certification exam ( sponsored by AWS Community Builder )
- Contribute more toward OSS
I hope this story helps you somehow. Don't be afraid to share your story because every person has a story just needs to speak out.
You can reach out to me for any kind of tech or product building help. I will be more than happy to assist. You can follow me on twitter, Github and Linkedin
Thanks 🙏🏻 to those who help me in my journey my parents, wife, friends circle, mentors and colleague. List is so big so, apologies for not mentioning those names.
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