Being a coder was not my dream at all. To be an alumnus of an informatics engineering university was also not my dream. I was dreaming to be like my father, a civil engineer. Saw him doing his job on the field made him really like a man. In some night, he was having some discussion with his employees about the structure and some picture of the building. That was cool, man! So why am I a coder now? Why did I choose informatics engineering?
My father said that an IT practitioner was going to be a prospective career. And that was the only reason why I chose it! Silly don’t you think? Or, shallow maybe.
4 years academic and finally I graduated at 2008, what would I do?
First opportunity came from Kenwood Singapore. I followed the test to be part of the R&D division. I was needed to solve problems in C language (oh hell!). But surprisingly, I passed. I was selected to be their employee and I was told to wait while they were taking care for legal administration. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to Singapore, because their working permit proposal was rejected by Singapore Government. Oh no! I think that was a disaster to end up waiting for job offering in my hometown, Medan.
4 months passed and finally I got job offering from Malaysian office, it’s called ehors. A company which provides IT solutions for hospitality industry. They had some clients in Malaysia, Dutch, and Indonesia. That was cool, I think. I was required to be able to code in PHP and MySQL. It’s so easy and finally I got the job. For a month, I had training phase in Penang and it was really nice.
PHP and MySQL is not the only technology I used. I also required to code in Actionscript 2 and Actionscript 3. They were making an ERP for hotel with Adobe Flex 3, along with PHP and MySQL. My early experience in working with company was fun! These are what I got from it :
- Technical experience from seniors
- Interpersonal skill to handle people with different culture
- Sharpen my English skill by talking with Malaysian and Dutch people
- Start to learn about managerial thing
Everything was fine until one day I felt so uncomfortable with the environment they set in the office. For about a year, I decided to leave the company and join my friends’ startup in Bandung in late 2009, it was called Starqle. The important thing that I learned from my former company was about Resource Handling. What’s wrong with that? IT company should treat their IT resource well. Programmers, analyst, and designers are like engine and wheel for a car. Company should think about a way to make them a loyal employee. Not just loyal, but also more creative and productive. Start by give them more respects.
What kind of respects do you mean?
- Good salary
- If you can’t give good salary, at least, give them nice insentive
- If you can’t give it either, then you need to have a good future plan for them arise with you.
Give them somethings really promising
Back to my story, I started my part by as a database engineer in a project they have. It was a business intelligence for a university located in Bandung. The project was already started when I entered and I needed to have good knowledge about Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and friends, like Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft SQL Server Integration Service, and Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Service. That was hell! I should tell you honestly, once again, that was hell!
Was that really bad?
To handle Microsoft SQL Server was not as easy as boil a water. That thing is complex! I need a couple of months to gain good view about it. And after I did my part, I need to integrate the result with my partners application, which was built with Ruby on Rails 2.3. I think that was the fatal mistake that they took, to combine Rails with SQL Server to build a BI. Even though we had a bad time, the project was finally closed and done.
The things that I had learned from the project were :
- My first experience facing client directly and it was tricky
- Team leader should have done more significant actions
- I need to create a better method to handle people in database division (once again, it’s about man handling)
After that, I was taking charge in a project to build a Fuel Distribution Monitoring System and the client was PT. Pertamina (persero). We were creating the app with ASP .NET and ExtJS. For about 2 – 3 months I was taking role as a programmer and team leader. That was hard but finally we passed it.
Lesson learned from this project are :
- We had a big client and we always say ‘Yes’ to them
- Time given was not enough, yet we still taking the job
- To lead was no easy, it’s not just giving orders but you need to know about the technical, the people, the stuff that you do, the time that you have, the work structure that you’ve planned, and even client handling.
That moment really gave much things to learn. That was my first time encounter with Ruby on Rails and it was 2.3. I was given a task to create a simple internal application for office. It was used to track time of employees working time. But actually, it wasn’t enough for me to learn much about it. It’s all because I have duty to run some projects.
Next project I handled was a GWT (Google Web Toolkit) with Oracle 10g Express Edition. The application was used for international flight in Jakarta International Airport. It was created for the sake of partnership between Angkasa Pura and Sapphire. It took about 2 months to finish it and I was appointed only as a programmer. What an experience I had so far. Many kinds of programming language and client condition I faced at the time. There isn’t much things to learn from the project, because the project went nicely and smoothly.
The last project that I handled before I leave was creating site http://indonesia.travel/trip. I was appointed (again) as the project manager. I was happy because they believed in me. I had double role beside as a project manager, I was also the programmer. We created it with Zend Framework, MySQL, and jQuery. As a project manager, the important thing that I did was coordinate team. So how did I do it? It was very simple. I listed all the tasks and map it to the programmer who was in charge doing it. In 1 or 2 days (depended on task load) period I asked them the progress and found the solution together if there was one. But in the middle of the project, I decided to leave the company by the end of the project. So, I passed the role as project manager to my partner and I did my part only as a programmer.
That was one quite fun project. Because everything ran fine and I really liked the flow of responsibility in the team. I just needed to code and after I finished, I passed it to designers. Voila! It’s done! Everything went well and smoothly.
Those were my experiences before I took my leave and started my own startup, it’s called Wiradipa Nusantara.