Continuation of the story "Career programmer" .
It was getting dark
. Both directly and indirectly. I was looking for a job as a programmer with great zeal, but there were no options.
In my city there were 2-3 ads for 1C-developer plus, a rare case when teachers of programming courses were required. It was the 2006th year. I started my studies at the 4th year of university, but the parents and the girl did not ambiguously hint at me to look for work. Yes, I myself wanted. Therefore, having passed a couple of interviews for the position of a teacher of courses and not having gained any luck there, I was already rushing to master “1C: Accounting”. With luggage in dozens of read books and hundreds of written programs in C ++/Delphi and Java - I started learning 1C from hopelessness.
But to my happiness, cable Internet has already been “delivered” to our city, and it was possible to try their luck by advertising about finding work on sites. Having mail to mail.ru and often going there, I found an ad section for myself and wrote there about all my rich experience in software development. I already wrote in the last part that the first ten responses to my ad were in the spirit of - “write to Gates”. But the 11th, there was a guy who turned my destiny 180 degrees, just as it happened in my time at the first lesson in programming courses.
A letter about this content fell into my mailbox:
My name is Samvel, and I am the director of OutsourceItSolutions.
We noticed your ad about a job search by a developer on mail.ru. Ready to consider your candidacy. I propose to talk in more detail on ICQ - 11122233.
Similar semi-official and over-business style continued all the way to our cooperation. As they say in the west, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, a person offers a job, and it seems that the slag that we had in the city is not the same. On the other hand, it was not known anything about this company, what it does and what conditions it offers. Of course, one had to act while there was nothing to lose. We quickly contacted ICQ, Samvel asked me a few questions, and offered to meet to sign documents to get started. Questions from him were common and related mainly to my skills and experience.
Like these: "What do you write on?", "What can you show?", And so on. There was no “What is the difference between the abstract class and the interface” Especially tasks in the spirit of “flip the array.”
It was the beginning of September, the lectures at the university were exclusively in their specialty, and I attended them. Along the way, I came across, then my father's friends, then friends of friends who wanted for free, a full-fledged Enterprise solution for their business or government. It was also an experience, and in my spare time I lectured skills on these volunteer orders.
In short, there was no money, there was no opportunity, therefore Samvel remained the last hope for somewhere to break out.
On the day of the meeting with Samvel, I asked the group mates if they would like to go for an interview with me for the company.
Samvel stuttered that if I have friends with IT-skills, then you can bring them with me. That between the lines read like "we take all indiscriminately." Few people agreed from my classmates, or rather, it is one of ten respondents. The irony is that those nine who had important business, like beer or Counter-Stirke on the grid, also came to Samvel through time or passed through it.
So, the agreed guy named Serega, went to explore with me what kind of business this person had, and look at the prospects. Seryoga always harnessed himself into any fornicator when I offered him something. I often gushed ideas, like making a social network for job search, and Seryoga connected, at least as a consultant.By the way, in the 2006th year, LinkedIn was only developing, and there was nothing like it outside of the States. And potentially, a correctly implemented idea of such a social network could be sold today for $ 26 billion
But back to the meeting with Samvel. I had no idea what was waiting for me ahead, and under what conditions we would work. The only thing that interested me was whether I would receive my cherished $ 300/month, and if I was lucky, using a stack of technologies that I knew.
We agreed to meet in a public place, near the stadium. Next to us in a row were shops and it was noisy. This place, not far from the center of the industrial city, was more suitable for drinking a bottle of beer than signing a contract for a new job at OutsourceItSolutions in the person of the CEO named Samvel.
Therefore, the first question to him was: “What, you do not have an office?”. Samvel hesitated, and looking away, replied that he did not yet, but we were planning to open.
Then he pulled out of a plastic bag from the supermarket, two contracts, for me and Seregi. I tried to understand what was written in them, but I never read anything like it in life, and this legal language caused rejection. Unable to bear it, I asked:
- What is written here?
- This is NDA, non-disclosure agreement
- Aah ...
Still not understanding what it was about, I had to nod. Another five minutes, I frantically searched for keywords in the text, such as “fine”, “credit”, “obliged”, “in case of non-fulfillment”. Making sure that there is nothing like that - put his signature. Let me remind you that Serega was with me, for moral support and finding new opportunities for earning money for myself. Also, not understanding what he is signing - he repeated this action after me. We exchanged a few words with Samvel. Again about my skills and experience. Asked if I know PHP?
This is something with which, and very rarely worked with PHP. So I said I know Perl. To which Samvel haughtily threw out - "Ta Perl is the last century." Although the century has just begun ...
All the same, not being sure what will happen next, I mixed up with a nervous laugh to Seryoga: “Well, the death sentence was not signed by the same ...”. Everyone looked at each other and Samvel promised to send further instructions by mail.
The next day, a letter arrived in which I was given a “corporate email”, a link to my personal profile and instructions on how to fill it out. Also a sample of the completed profile of Samvel himself.
I think in this place it is worth telling what kind of company OutsourceItSolutions is. The company as such - legally did not exist. There was a very weak site with the vyglaglazny design of those years and Gender. Samvel. Probably sitting in shorts and a t-shirt in front of the monitor at home. He was also a web developer, and on this he made the main income with a rate of $ 20/hour. I used to intersect with his father, who was doing the same thing Samvel did. Namely, I was looking for senior IT students who could be charged for orders to the west. Normal homemade outstaff.
So Samvel, was registered on the freelance exchange oDesk (which is now Upwork), since its inception in 2004. Of course, he already had a profile, a bunch of skills, and a clear understanding of how to work with foreign customers.
Also, following in the footsteps of his father, he opened his agency on oDesk. He brought people like me there and took a percentage of each hour earned. At that time, he had about 10-15 people in the agency. The last time I looked there, the number of "IT-specialists" exceeded one hundred.
I will return to my work assignment - fill out a profile on oDesk. As you understand, Samvel led me into freelancing. It was the only opportunity to earn something at that time and in that place, with my knowledge. I was lucky. Like most of my friends who went to freelancing after me. Now most of us have 10-12 years of experience in IT, freelancing, remote.Not everyone succeeded so much from our group, but this is a separate topic.
Having seen the inscription of $ 8/hr at the top of the oDesk-profile of the 20th Bold, I quickly began to multiply this figure by the forty-hour work week, then at 160 hours per month. And having counted as a result of $ 1280, I experienced a joyful euphoria. I immediately figured out how much time I would need to buy a used VAZ-2107, which cost about $ 2000. With even more enthusiasm, I rushed to fill out a profile and wrote into it everything that happened and would probably happen.
In the column Other Experience wrote that I played good football and was the captain of the team. For which Samvel tactfully hinted that this experience is not in the subject and should be removed. Then I began to pass tests on oDesk'e. This is such an occupation, and even if your last name is Straustrup, it is not a fact that in C ++ you will receive the highest score. Questions were written either by Hindus, or by other freelancers, which was full of ambiguities, and sometimes even mistakes. Later, oDesk sent me these questions with answers, and asked me to do a review of the tests. I found at least 10 errors and incorrect formulations.
But nonetheless. For the Delphi 6 test - I got 4.4 out of 5, which was an achievement for me. And in C ++, the “first place” medal did, which meant, Satan himself could not pass this test until now. This was the result of my efforts to study the standard and write a compiler. Therefore, even with an empty profile, I already had a competitive advantage over other freelancers.
My oDesk profile in 2006-2007
It should be noted that in 2006, oDesk.com was a cozy place where posts appeared 2 times a day, in the Desktop Software Development section. 3-5 people answered them, mainly from Eastern Europe. And with an empty portfolio, you could grab a good project. In general - there was no competition, and it happened. I got the first draft fairly quickly.
Somewhere in a week or two, Samvel sent applications for work, in my niche. Then he told me to send myself - I have application templates.
Ironically, my first client on oDesk'e, became a student from America, with a task similar to the one that I solved our students for the cheburek. At around 10 pm, the first client knocked on me at Yahoo Messenger. I was a little nervous, because I felt that I was on the threshold of something important. And the future depends on this order. In any case, like almost any normal person who goes to work on the first day. Yes, and not working before.
This customer guy threw me a Vord file, with a detailed description of the task to the smallest detail. Examples of I/O and code design. The quality of the requirements was much higher than ours. Despite the night outside the window, I rushed to write a task in order to send him today. I was important to get the first positive feedback. Then followed the standard question of the client - “how much will the solution of the problem take?”. I figured that the business was here for 3 hours, plus an hour, to polish and test everything.
It turns out 4 and traditionally multiplies by 2, in the case of force majeure and lovers of finishing touches. I answer: “8 o'clock, tomorrow I'll take off the decision”.
In fact, I finished by two at night. And in the western part of the USA it was still light. Therefore, having wound up in the tracker for 5 hours, I sent the solution to my first client-student from America.
The next day, there was a lot of joy and thanks from this guy. In the recall, he wrote what a wonderful person I am and what I did in 5 hours instead of the stated 8. Here it is - customer loyalty. I would certainly have done it for free, so long-term orders would go to me. But what was my joy when I received as much as $ 40. Not $ 2 from our students, but as much as 40! For the same job. It was a quantum leap.
As time went on, I came across a different trifle, which still gave earnings above the city average. I just delved into the essence of what is happening. It was necessary to speak English, and fluently. Although I learned the language in school and uni, but a native speaker is another matter. Especially if it is American. Then the program was popular Magic Gooddy, which translated whole sentences.
Also built-in speech synthesizer. It helped a lot, although the quality of the translation was in the style of Ravshan and Jamshud.
Magic Gooddy - a program that helped to conduct a dialogue with first customers
Once I sent a request for a job where I had to write a plug-in for Internet Explorer that collects data from the social network MySpace. Today, both projects are a relic of the past. And in 2006, it was the mainstream. Nobody thought that Facebook would shoot, and MySpace would completely die out. Also, no one used Chrome, because he was not there yet. And the plugins for Firefox were not popular. In the States, the share of IE was several times larger than other browsers. Therefore, the customer’s bid was correct, only with timing it was 5 years behind.
Well, I was given a test task for a couple of hundred dollars to write a plugin that logs all the events taking place in IE.
How to do it - I had no idea. At the university we were not taught this, there were no such orders. I had to go search for my favorite rsdn.ru (StackOverflow wasn't the same by the way) and search by keywords “IE, plugin”. What was my joy that some other programmer made a blank of what was written in my TK. After downloading the source code, having pulled a window on them to display the logs of browser events, I sent the task for review.
After half an hour, the answer came - “I am very happy! This is an exciting work! Let's continue cooperate! ”
That is, the person was satisfied and is eager to continue on an hourly basis. What was surprising to me, he suggested that over time I would raise my rate from $ 10 to $ 19. I really tried hard, but I lacked the experience of running the project alone. And Andy (that was the name of the client) tried to motivate me with money, then with stories like he is looking for an investor. With all this, Andy - this is just the person who gave me confidence that you can earn on freelancing, and very well. He also gave me the opportunity to get away from Samvel, and have an individual profile, so as not to pay extra interest for nothing.
In total, I worked with Andy for over a year. All his requirements, ideas and ideas, I embodied in C ++ code. He also told me how he runs around investors to scale the project. Invited several times to his America. In general, we have friendly relations.
But do not believe the Americans with whom you do business. Today he is your friend, and tomorrow, without batting an eye, he can change the project budget or close it altogether. I have seen a lot of this in 12 years. When questions concern money, all values like family, health, fatigue — they don’t care. Direct blow to the head. And no more talking. About clients from the CIS, I generally keep silent.
It was 2 cases, out of more than 60, which did not end with anything good. Such a mentality. And this is a topic for a separate post.
So, earning as a local oligarch on the Andy project, I already came to finish the university on my own new car.
It seemed to me that in front, all the roads before were open. I believed that we would still find investments for this project, and I would be at least Team Lead in it.
But not everything is so smooth in this business. After receiving a specialist degree, I went with my girlfriend to the sea, to relax, to have fun. It was then Andy and slipped me a pig.While I was relaxing - he closed the contract, and when I asked to explain the reason, he reluctantly answered that there was no money, everything was ashes and there were a lot of bugs in the project. Therefore, correct this list of hundreds of bugs for a couple of hundred, and see what happens next. A sharp turn, however. Of course, this is not Dropbox, which closed Mailbox for $ 100 million, but further actions were not entirely clear.
So I floundered like a frog in a jar of milk, trying not to drown and whip sour cream. But the payment was several times less, there were more demands, and I said that it was time to end the cooperation. So it will not go further. Over the years, Andy has repeatedly turned to me for advice. He still can not calm down, and nags new startups. Performs on TechCrunch and other events. Now I have created an application that almost instantly recognizes, translates and synthesizes speech.
As far as I know, I received several million investments.
I started searching for a new client on oDesk, which was difficult. In good income, stability and rates - there is one drawback. They discourage. If yesterday I could earn $ 600 per week by adding a couple of features. That “today”, with a new client, for the same $ 600, I need to do more work, having penetrated into the client’s tools, infrastructure, team, subject area and in general, the specifics of communication. At the beginning of a career it is not easy.
Before returning to normal operation, with previous earnings, it took quite a long time.
In the next part, there will be a story about a global and local crisis, the Middle level, the first completed major project that saw the light of the launch of his startup.
To be continued ...