22nd June 2017, 3.02pm, I had one of my biggest achievements in my software career so far. It wasn’t anything huge nor comparable to something you would consider significant out there, but for me, it was nothing short of monumental. It was my first taste of a true client work. One that isn’t marked nor judged by lecturers or other fellow programmers, but by a simple client who has a simple need.
Like any good story telling, you always start with a sneak peek of the end of the story, and go all the way back to its very beginning.
Once upon a time…
…or about 6 days earlier, I came across an Instagram story from a person I’d been following for quite some time (here’s her Instagram if you’re interested). In the 3-second-long story, she took a picture of her then-blog and asked if anyone could assist in creating a slideshow for her blog, because turns out there wasn’t any free and easy solution that she could get her hands on. Since I’d had some past experience with web design and development, and am currently looking to dive into more projects to further polish my skills, I figured this might be a good chance for me to actually put my skill set to the test. I took a leap of faith, shrugged my shoulders, told myself “meh”, and DM-ed (direct message) her to get a better understanding of the situation.
After several messages back and forth, it turns out that she was a pretty busy individual, and it usually takes her about 15-20 hours before I would see a reply to my previous message – which wasn’t such a big deal, but it does slow down quite a bit the pace at which information was exchanged. Adding this to the fact that she has a huge follower base, someone else might’ve DM-ed her at this very moment. Despite so, I knew this is a precious opportunity, for me to not only have a first-hand experience on how real-world client work feels like, but also maybe, just maybe, get something back along the way. It might not be money, and it might not be fame, but something in my gut just says “Go.” – and I’m a guy who believes in taking gut feelings seriously.
Hence, I did what any other person who wants an opportunity really badly would do – create a proposal – or in my case – a prototype.
It might not be money, and it might not be fame, but something in my gut just says “Go.”
So, I used the source code of her site, which anyone could extract with ease using Ctrl + U.
For example, to get the source code for 9gag.com, all you’ve gotta do is just:
- Saved the source code for the static site.
- Implemented the slideshow codes into it, where I wanted it to be, how I wanted it to be (basically lots of Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V).
- Hosted it onto a free hosting site for better and easier presentation.
- Sent the link to the static site over to her.
And the prototype looks a little something like this:
Which may LOOK like something impressive (which it kinda is), but in reality, is something more like this:
Yup. It was all looks. It was just a framework that would serve reasons:
- Rather than talking and describing, this would give her a better idea of how the end product would look and feel.
- I’ll gain her confidence and trust by displaying initiative, ability, and commitment – which is the main purpose of it all.
- It was fast, simple, and foolproof to create, yet delivers the point just well.
Sure enough, once she saw the prototype, I got the opportunity I wanted.
Now, the messy work truly began, because all I’ve done so far was create a static site, which was, in essence, comparable to a slightly more advanced version of a drawing done by MS Paint. Now, I had to put in the work to understand the framework of BlogSpot (since I wasn’t too familiar with it), her exact requirements for the slideshow, and any other (countless) problems that could come along the way.
If you’re interested in how I did it,
Basically, after 6 days and about 20 hours of figuring things out + lots of googling + dozens of stops to stackoverflow.com, the end product was created.
It was beautiful. I could still remember the moment I hit refresh on the web page, and everything turned out just the way it was meant to be. No bugs, no glitches. Just a smooth, simple slideshow, done by a noob like me. For those of you who’re interested in having a look at her blog, here it is.
Throughout this short but exciting experience, I believe I’ve managed to a core lesson out of this
Grab your opportunities by providing value
In case you didn’t know who that was, that’s Gary Vaynerchuk. If I even attempt to introduce this dude here under a paragraph, I would do nothing but understate what this guy had done, not to mention how he’d managed to inspired me to do so much. A quick search on any social media platform should give you more than a lifetime’s worth of content about this dude.
I’d been following Gary for about a year now, and the particular quote above rang in my ears the moment I saw the story posted. I was a little hesitant back then, but now, I couldn’t say that this quote was any less true than it is powerful.
Strictly speaking, this opportunity wasn’t exactly a result of me actively going out and searching for it (more like I stumbled upon it), but I believe I’d a taste of the tip of the iceberg on what this law offers because if you just think about it for a second, it makes sense.
Let’s say you’re a programmer like me. You know you’re good, and you know you’re credible, but you constantly feel like the world’s undermining you, and you felt like your capabilities aren’t leveraged to its fullest potential yet, and you feel frustrated because employers don’t take you seriously.
Stand in a different set of shoes for a moment. You’re the employer now. You have a business idea. You know you’re good, and you know you’re credible, but you constantly feel like the world acknowledges nor appreciate you, and you felt like your business is still very much in its infancy and have tons of room to grow, and you feel frustrated because the employees don’t take you seriously.
See the issue here? Now, you’ve got an “egg first or chicken first” perpetual situation, because each side is expecting the opposite to provide value first, then would they take them seriously. However, based on my opinion, I believe it is the employee that has to take the first step, because
- You’re looking to be hired, to gain a leverage, to earn an opportunity. Since it’s you wanting something, it makes sense for you to be the one making the first move.
- There are way more employees than there are employers out there, and based on a simple law of supply and demand, you’re just gonna have to put in the extra effort to make yourself stand out.
And one of the ways that had been suggested, was through Instagram direct messaging. Every day, people are putting out there their lives on social media for anyone, and everyone to see – what they do for a living, what they do on the side, their needs, their wants etc, and this provides an opportunity. An opportunity for you to see the gap, the demand they need – and fill it right up. By doing so, do you not only manage to implement your skills in a real-life environment, but also network in a proper way – not by creating meaningless small talks and even more meaningless relationships, but by exchanging value; by making the other person know your not by a name card you’ve stockpiled in your pockets, but by the value you’ve surrounded around yourself with.
By making the other person remember your name not by a name card you’ve given to them, but by the value you’ve provided to them
– Just another dude