I was at the highest peak of my IT career. In just a span of three years, I rose from being a lowly intern to an IT department head. From merely accepting tasks assigned by project managers under my first job, I was called by another company. It offered a much more promising mission. I was designated to spearhead the establishment of their pioneering IT Department. I transitioned from being a developer to managing other developers. My carefully-invested patience in building my portfolio was finally starting to pay off. My ultimate IT career goal (or so I thought, then) was finally starting to take shape. Until, it all had to be put to an end.
When I started with the new company, I really believed I was, at last, headed to where I was always meant to go. But then complications, one by one started to reveal themselves. The environment proved to be less conducive for us programmers to perform at our best. No, I’m not blaming the company for it. It was only proving itself true to its nature – a call center company by roots.
What Kills an IT Programmer?
Rules and more rules sprouted like mushrooms one after another. I’m not saying that rules are bad, but with the best programmers, they’re like devil’s snare vines coiling into our necks, choking all creativity out of us. You know what devil’s snares are? The more you struggle, the more it strangles you. Programmers will never be “friends” with devil’s snares. That’s because the more we conform and “stay still”, the less effective we get. Freedom is not just a capricious demand of IT programmers, as what most ill-informed managers claim. Freedom is vital to our survival. It’s an irreplaceable booster to the healthy growth of our IT skills. And with our skills growth comes company growth, to put it simply.
As the then member of the leadership team, I attempted at my best in contributing some “programmer’s blood” to the company’s veins. But its “call center DNA” proved to be stronger, and prevailed. It was then that I have realized, it’s time to open the exit door, to let the light shine in. Devil’s snare hates light, after all…
The Fall of the Great and Mighty IT Witch
Okay, enough with the Harry Potter metaphors. What I mean was, as much of a waste it may seemed, I had to throw it all away. You know, to make room for the right things, if not better ones. I’ve come that far, yes, and believe me, it was not easy reaching that level of my IT career. But I knew I had to let go of everything. I had to stop, retrace a few steps, take another route. This, and mixed with all other factors (which I no longer have the pleasure of putting into words), I quit my second IT job.
It felt like hitting rough, solid ground. It felt like clipping my own wings while on the top of a flight, and not having any other choice. It was a very painful descent, and I “bled” terribly, not to mention a great sense of loss clouding over me. But again, I had no other sensible choice.
It was my first taste of a “career death”.
How an IT Career is Revived
Luckily, there’s reincarnation in the IT career world, or so I claim for myself. As dead as it made me feel, I was determined to get it over with, fast. So I treated my “fall” as a go-signal, to start on my long overdue plan of finally trying out freelancing. During my previous jobs, I was exposed to finding, negotiating, and communicating with clients online. It was so much like freelancing, only with a company in between who receives the client payment and allocates a fixed salary for me. Nevertheless, I learned a lot from it and intended to use that learning on my now lone IT career path.
I was already on my second week of finding clients – browsing on Craigslist, OnlineJobs, LinkedIn, and sending applications via email and Skype. I got my first client who gave me some short, part-time projects. But despite that, some hints of frustration were starting to crawl up on me. Two weeks, and I still haven’t got at least half of what I owe my mom for buying me a brand new laptop and LTE connection.
And TopTal Comes Into the Picture
It seemed that my online sources were not big enough on freelance job listings, so I searched further. Then, I came across this article about The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs. Some websites I’ve used way back on my employed days were there, which was not a surprise, really. What caught my attention was Toptal on rank 2. I mean, it’s the first time ever that I’ve heard (or in this case, read) such a name, and it’s ranked second on that list?! Was I really that outdated, or what?
In other words, it made me plain curious, so I checked it out. I found an application form on their website, completed it, and then got this some kind of a tip that writing a blog (like this one) would actually increase my chance of getting hired (or was that ‘getting approved’?).
Anyway, this happens to be in my favor, since I’m into blogging, so I thought “Why not?”. Besides, I was impressed by Toptal’s line of featured clients in their website. My, all those big names! Only a laid-back programmer would not drool over the thought of working with them! And I am, after all, as ambitious as it gets when it comes to furthering my IT career. Well, given that I don’t end up in another environment packed with Devil’s Snares, of course.
And Now to Prepare for My Own Rebirth…
I may have fallen hard, but I believe it was all worth it. There’s just so many online opportunities out there. Glittering like fireflies, they’re waiting to be caught by freelancers and freelance wannabes. Some of those are offered by Toptal, big time! And oh, it doesn’t really matter if I don’t have wings right now. I’m certain I can still catch the right “fireflies”. All I need is a sturdy net made out of strong skills, perseverance, and the right attitude.
One of these days, I shall claim my own name in the freelancing world, and my wings will grow back, once more. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to that TopTal interview, and that glorious day when I can finally be a part of the Toptal Web engineers network.
And if it doesn’t happen, well, I’d still have this article added to my writing portfolio. Nothing’s wasted.