Walking Tall with the Big Guys

A story of 17 year-old developer

About a year ago when I was 17, I started working as an intern at Nex, one of the biggest startups in Yangon. In our country, most people start working around 20(after getting a degree), which is why it’s very rare for a high schooler or a university student to be working. Over the year, some juniors came and asked me about my experience many times, which leads me to write this story to share my experience of working as an intern.

Back in 2014, There was this event called “AppBus” where some students are selected to go around the city and visit startups. I met Nex for the first time while I was on the AppBus. I was fascinated by their works and I instantly knew that this is the kind of place I want to work at. In October 2014, I finished first year, I was free and looking for something to improve myself. I thought many time about joining Nex as an intern. At first, I was unsure of my own skills but after some times, I made a bit of a gamble and sent an email to them, with one of my noob app attached. I got invited for an interview and I was so excited. I remember I was so nervous that I was breathing heavily and walking to and fro in front of the door before going inside for interview. Some weeks after the interview, I got an email that I was hired and it was one of the best moments in my life.

During my first months, I had a lot of challenges, and one of them is my own internal conflict called Imposter Syndrome, a phenomena where one felt he doesn’t deserve the accomplishments he had made. Every now and then, I would feel like I don’t belong working here since I’m so noob. I would often hide my codes from seniors because they’re one of the worst codes you’ll ever read. At times, I would open up my fears to my trusted friends, seniors and my dad, and ask for some advice. You probably think you’re too young or too noob to be start working but worry not, you’re not the only one. I, too went through that and still sometimes going through The Upswing of Awesome” phase.

My very first project was Nexy Keyboard and I had never done anything similar before. So, I had to read a lot of documentations and research a lot. I advise not to run to seniors every time you have a problem. Try to research on your own if you can; this can particularly increase your knowledge more than it should since you also learnt a lot of other stuffs. When I really need help, I would ask to point me in the right direction, and I would continue to research on my own afterwards. One of the push to put more effort in it was the fact that I was inspired by all the big guys around me. I wanted to be like them and I guess that was kind of a push to be better.

Of course, it was not all hardships, there are a lot of benefits I got. Aside from improvement in professional field, I get to know a bigger community, I get to know what it’s like in a working environment, I get to know what’s trending among the pros, and the list could go on and on!

Whenever I work on a personal project, I procrastinate a lot but in an work environment, I had to work with a schedule and a deadline. I had to manage my time to deliver the project on time, and I really need to know my own capabilities to plan and establish an accurate (and feasible, of course) timeline. That was a valuable lesson because I find time management a quite useful skills.

Another benefit I would love to talk about is that most of the lectures taught at universities become relatable. Theories taught in university are hard to relate since students are not familiar with real-life working environment. Many thought that those theories are useless in real life but to be honest, I was able to relate most of theories from time to time, and the result of that was I became more interested in lectures at university ever since.

If you ask me whether or not you should, I’ll always answer “Why haven’t you done it already!?” Don’t have second thoughts. You only had one life to live. Don’t wait for the lighting strike and take a leap of faith. Thanks for reading this and I would love to hear your thoughts, too.

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