Part 4. Career programmer. Junior. Freelance entry

    Continuation of the story "Career programmer . "

    It was getting dark . Both directly and indirectly. I was very diligent in looking for a job as a programmer, 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 began my studies in the 4th year of university, but the parents and the girl clearly hinted to me that I would look for work. Yes, I myself wanted to. Therefore, having passed a couple of interviews for the position of a teacher of courses and not having gained good luck there, I was already rushed to master “1C: Accounting”. With a baggage of dozens of books read and hundreds of written programs in C ++ / Delphi and Java - I began to learn 1C from hopelessness.

    But to my happiness, cable Internet has already been "delivered" to our city, and you could try your luck by posting a job search on the sites. Having mail on mail.ru and often going there, I found for myself an ad section 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.” And here is the 11th, there was a guy who turned my fate around 180 degrees, just as it happened in his first lesson in programming courses.

    A letter fell into my mailbox, about the following content:

    Hello Denis,
    My name is Samvel, and I'm the director of OutsourceItSolutions.
    We noticed your ad about a job search by a developer at mail.ru. Readyconsider your candidacy. I propose to talk in more detail on ICQ - 11122233.

    Respectfully,
    Samvel,
    General Director,
    OutsourceItSolutions


    Such officialdom and an over-business style continued throughout our cooperation. As they say in the West, I had “mixed feelings”. On the one hand, a person offers a job, and it seems to be not the slag that was in our city. On the other hand, nothing was known 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 start work. Questions from him were general and related mainly to my skills and experience.

    It seems like: “What do you write on?”, “What can you show?”, Etc. There was no “What is the difference between an abstract class and an interface”. Especially tasks in the spirit of "flip the array."

    It was the beginning of September, lectures at the university were exclusively by profession, and I went to them. Along the way, I came across either father’s friends, or friends of friends who wanted for free, a full-fledged Enterprise-solution for their business or government institution. It was also an experience, and in my free time from lectures, I pumped skills on these volunteer orders.
    In short, there was no money, there were no opportunities, so Samvel remained the last hope to escape somewhere.

    On the day I met Samvel, I asked my classmates if they would like to interview me for company.

    Samvel stuttered that if I have friends with IT skills, then you can bring them with you. What was read between the lines, as "we take indiscriminately." Few of my classmates agreed, or rather, this is one of ten respondents. The irony is that those nine who had important things to do, like a brewery or Counter-Stirke on the net, also got to Samvel through time or passed through it.

    So, a guy who agreed, named Seryoga, went to scout with me what kind of business this man had and look at the prospects. Serge always harnessed to any harlot when I offered him something. I often ganged up ideas, like making a social network to look for work, and Seryoga connected, at least as a consultant. By the way, in 2006, LinkedIn was only developing, and outside the United States there was nothing like it at all. And potentially, the 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 lay ahead, and under what conditions we would work. The only thing that interested me was whether I would receive my treasured 300 $ / month, and if I was lucky, then using a stack of technologies that I knew.

    We agreed to meet in a crowded place, near the stadium. Next to us in a row were benches 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 represented by a CEO named Samvel.

    Therefore, the first question to him was: “Well, do you have an office?” Samvel hesitated, and averting his eyes, he replied that there wasn’t yet, but we plan to open it.

    Then he took from a plastic bag from a supermarket, two contracts, for me and Seryoga. I tried to delve into what was written in them, but in my life I did not read anything like it, and this legal language caused rejection. Unable to stand it, I asked:
    - And what is written here?
    - This is the NDA, non-disclosure agreement
    - Ahh ...

    Even more without understanding what I mean, I had to nod. Another five minutes, I frantically searched for keywords in the text, such as “fine”, “credit”, “obligated”, “in case of non-fulfillment”. Having ascertained that there is nothing of the kind, he put his signature. Let me remind you that Serega was with me, for moral support and the search for new earning opportunities for myself. Also, not understanding what he signs, he repeated this action after me. We exchanged a few words with Samvel. Again about my skills and experience. Asked if I know PHP?

    Here with something, and very rarely worked with PHP. Therefore, I said that I know Perl. What Samvel haughtily threw out - "That, Perl - is the last century." Although the century has just begun ...

    Anyway, not sure what will happen next, I mixed with a nervous laugh said to Serega: “Well, it’s not the death sentence that they signed ...”. Everyone looked at each other and Samvel promised to send further instructions to the post office.

    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 did not legally exist. There was a very weak website with vyrviglazny design of those years and gender. Samvel. Probably sitting in his underpants and a T-shirt in front of the monitor at home. He was a web developer, on which he made the main income with a rate of $ 20 / hour. I used to meet with his father, who was doing the same thing Samvel did. Namely, he was looking for senior students of IT specialties who could be charged for orders to the West. The usual homemade outstaff.

    So Samvel, has been registered on the freelance exchange oDesk (which is now Upwork), since its inception in 2004. Of course, he already had a pumped profile, a bunch of skills, and a clear understanding of how to work with foreign customers.

    Also following in his father's footsteps, he opened his agency on oDesk. He brought there, such as me, and took a percentage from every 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 brought me to freelance. It was the only opportunity to earn something at that time and in that place, with my knowledge. I got lucky. Like most of my friends who went to freelance after me. Now most of us have 10-12 years of experience in IT, freelance, remote. Not everyone has succeeded from our group, but this is a separate issue.

    Having seen the inscription $ 8 / hr at the top of my oDesk profile with my twentieth bold, I quickly began to multiply this figure by a forty-hour work week, then by 160 hours a month. And counting a total of $ 1,280, he experienced joyful euphoria. I immediately figured out how much time I would need to buy a used VAZ-2107, which cost about $ 2000. With even greater enthusiasm, I rushed to fill out the profile and wrote in it everything that happened and will probably happen.

    In the Other Experience column, he wrote that I play football well and was the team captain. For what Samvel tactfully hinted that this experiment is not the topic and that it needs to be removed. Then I started taking tests on oDesk. This is such an occupation, and even if your last name is Straustrup, it is not a fact that in C ++ you will get the highest score. Questions were written either by Indians or by other freelancers in such a way that they were full of ambiguities, and sometimes mistakes. Later, oDesk sent me these questions with answers, and asked me to review the tests. I found at least 10 errors and incorrectly formulated wordings.

    But nonetheless. For the Delphi 6 test - I got 4.4 out of 5, which was an achievement for me. And in C ++ it’s the first place medal, which, as it were, means that Satan himself has not been able to pass this test so far. This was the result of my efforts to learn the standard and write a compiler. Therefore, even with an empty profile, I already had a competitive advantage over other freelancers.

    My profile in 2006
    My oDesk profile in 2006-2007 I

    must say that in 2006, oDesk.com was such a cozy place where posts appeared 2 times a day in the section Desktop Software Development. They were answered by 3-5 people, mainly from Eastern Europe. And with an empty portfolio, you could grab a good project. In general, there was no competition, and so it happened. I got the first project fast enough.

    Somewhere within a week or two, Samvel sent applications for work in my niche. Then he told me to send it myself - I have application templates.

    First customers


    Ironically, my first client at oDesk'e was a student from America, with a task similar to the one that I solved for our students for cheburek. At around 10 p.m., the first client knocked on me at Yahoo Messenger. I was a little nervous, because I felt that I was on the verge 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 Word file with a detailed description of the task to the smallest detail. Examples of input-output and code design. The quality of the requirements was an order of magnitude higher than ours. Despite the night outside the window, I rushed to write the task, to send him today. It was important for me to get the first positive feedback. Then came the standard client question - “how long will it take to solve the problem?”. I figured that the business is here for 3 hours, plus an hour to polish and test everything.

    It turns out 4 and by tradition we multiply by 2, in the case of force majeure and lovers of finishing touches. I answer: "8 o’clock, tomorrow I will throw off the decision."

    In fact, I finished by two nights. And in the western part of the USA it was still light. Therefore, after winding up 5 hours in the tracker, I sent the solution to my first student student from America.

    The next day, there was a lot of joy and thanks from this guy. In the review, he wrote how wonderful I am and that I did everything in 5 hours instead of the declared 8. Here it is - customer loyalty. Of course, I would have done it for free, if only I had been sent long-term orders. But what was my joy when I received as much as $ 40. Not $ 2 from our students, but as many as 40! For the same work. It was a quantum leap.

    Long term customer


    As time went on, I came across a different trifle, which still gave income above the average for the city. I just got into the essence of what is happening. It was necessary to speak English, and fluently. Although I learned the language at school and the university, native-speaker is another matter. Especially if it's an American. Then the Magic Gooddy program was popular, which translated whole sentences.

    Also, a speech synthesizer is built-in. This helped a lot, although the quality of the translation was in the style of Ravshan and Jamshud.

    magic-goody
    Magic Gooddy - a program that helped to conduct dialogue with first customers

    Once I sent a job application where I needed to write a plug-in for Internet Explorer that collects data from the MySpace social network. To date, both projects are a relic of the past. And in 2006, it was the mainstream. Nobody thought that Facebook would fire, and MySpace would completely fade. Also, no one used Chrome, because he was not there yet. And plugins for Firefox were not popular. In the United States, the share of IE was many times greater than other browsers. Therefore, the customer’s rate was correct, only with timing it was 5 years behind.

    Well, they gave me a test task for a couple of hundred dollars to write a plug-in that logs all events that occur in IE.

    How to do this - I had no idea. We were not taught this at the university; there were no such orders. I had to go look for my favorite rsdn.ru (StackOverflow was also not welcome) and search for the keywords “IE, plugin”. What was my joy that some other programmer made a draft of what was written in my TK. After downloading the sources, pulling a window on them to display the logs of browser events, I sent the task for verification.

    Half an hour later, the answer came - “I am very happy! This is exciting work! Let's continue cooperate! ”
    That is, the person was pleased and eager to continue on an hourly basis. What was surprising to me, he suggested over time to raise my rate from $ 10 to $ 19. I really tried hard, but I did not have enough experience managing the project alone. And Andy (that’s the name of the client) tried to motivate me with money or with stories like he was looking for an investor. With all this, Andy is just the person who gave me the confidence that you can make money on freelance, and very well. He also gave me the opportunity to leave Samvel and create an individual profile so as not to pay extra interest for no reason.

    In total, I worked with Andy for over a year. All of his requirements, ideas and ideas, I implemented in C ++ code. He told me how he runs around investors to scale the project. He invited me several times to his place in America. In general, we have developed friendly relations.

    But do not believe the Americans with whom you do business. Today he is your friend, and tomorrow, he can change the project budget or close it without blinking an eye. For 12 years I have seen a lot of this. When questions concern money, all values ​​like family, health, fatigue - they don’t care. A direct hit to the head. And no more talk. About clients from the CIS, I’m generally better not say anything.

    These were 2 cases, out of more than 60, which did not end with anything good. The mentality is this. And this is the topic of a separate post.

    So, earning as a local oligarch on the Andy project, I already came to graduate from my own new car.

    It seemed to me that ahead, all the roads in front of me were open. I believed that we would find investments for this project, and I would be at least Team Lead in it.

    But not everything is so smooth in this business. Having received a specialist diploma, I went to the sea with my girlfriend, relax, have fun. It was then that Andy slipped me a pig. While I relaxed - he closed the contract, and when I asked to explain what was the reason, he reluctantly replied that there was no money, everything was decaying 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 the next steps were not entirely clear.

    So I floundered like a frog in a jar of milk, trying not to drown and whip butter. But the payment became many times less, there were more requirements, and I said that it was time to end the cooperation. So things will not go further. Years later, Andy asked me more than once for a consultation. He still can’t calm down, and saws new startups. Performs at TechCrunch and other events. Now created an application that almost instantly recognizes, translates and synthesizes speech.
    As far as I know, I received several million investments.

    I began to search for a new client on oDesk, which was difficult. In good incomes, stability and rates - there is one drawback. They dampen. If yesterday I could earn $ 600 a week by adding a couple of features. That “today”, with a new client, for the same $ 600, I need to do a larger amount of work, while simultaneously understanding the client’s tools, infrastructure, team, subject area and, in general, the specifics of communication. At the beginning of a career, it’s not easy.

    Before returning to normal operation, with previous earnings, a rather long period passed.

    In the next part, we are planning a story about the global and local crisis, the Middle level, the first completed major project that saw the light and about the launch of its startup.

    Part 5. The crisis. Middle. First release >>

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