How Joining a Tech Startup F**ked Me Up and Sorted My Life Out

• 8 min read 30

Yes, it was one of the biggest and boldest decisions I have ever made. After the dust settled, it was one of the best decisions of my life.

It was around 2 PM on a Friday afternoon when I made the call to my father saying that I don’t want to continue my training in one of India’s biggest tech companies and want to join a startup somewhere.

I still remember how many times I have put down the idea of telling this to my father and leaving the training, and how much courage I had to gather to make this bold decision and to actually make that call.

You see in India, a general rule of the thumb defined by the society is that you complete your college, get a job in some “renowned” company, and get your life set.

Though this mentality is changing in the current generation, it is still prevalent in the older ones.

So, the idea of dropping out of college to start your own business, or maybe prefer a startup over a rock-solid corporate is thought of as a fool’s choice, as you don’t get much “job security” in a startup, and thus the opposition from parents or friends.

And there I was, on a call with my father saying the exact same stuff and hoping that he would support the idea and help me move out.

Getting started up

Talking with my father was a totally different scenario than what I had expected in my mind before making that call. He agreed and told me that he has my back.

However, the one thing that was troubling me was:

“Will I be able to find a good job in a startup given that I am fresher with zero industry experience?”

During that time, we had a weekend trip planned to Munnar, Kerala with a group of friends from the training classes, and regardless of the recent decision, I decided to go for it and get myself relaxed.

I wouldn’t say the trip was total fun or a total disaster either, but it was to some extent soothing, as I had that “finding a good job” thought swimming through my mind palace all time long, always trying to make me feel guilty of having fun instead of hunting down a suitable job.

Coming back from that trip, I created a profile on AngelList, filled up my profile and started applying to startups for the role of an Android Developer. A day went by, two went by, then three, four and some more but I hadn’t struck a conversation with anyone from any of those startups yet, and neither did I get

A day went by. Two went by. Then three, four and some more. but I hadn’t struck a conversation with anyone from any of those startups yet, and neither did I get

I was yet to strike a conversation with anyone from any of those startups yet, and neither did I get an invitation to talk from any startups who were looking for Android Developers.

This was one of the hardest phases that I had to go through with the pressure of two mountain-sized fearful thoughts — leaving a “secure” job which many people dream of, and not finding a suitable job after that, or in short, the fear of unemployment, the fear of being proved wrong.

Thankfully, after a few days, I got a call from a startup in Bangalore. We went through the formal interview process over Skype and the next day I had my offer letter sitting in my inbox — a moment of relief and also of excitement for me and my parents as well.

I signed off from Kerala to join this new job in Bangalore.

 Don’t be afraid and give in to fear, keep trying.

Something new, or rather a whole lot new

Now it was time for me to plunge into a whole new city, a whole new world of unknown. I went back to my home at Kolkata and started preparing for my trip to Bangalore and also brushing up my skills for the job.

I was the kind of guy who hadn’t traveled outside of my hometown alone, ever, who used to mostly travel around in his family car. Although the thought of coming to a new city and finding a new home was exciting, it was kind of frightening too.

Nevertheless, I boarded my flight from Kolkata to Bangalore to start my new life. Reaching there I booked a Uber cab and headed straight to a hotel in Koramangala.

Reaching there I booked a Uber cab and headed straight to a hotel in Koramangala.

I had to search for a place to stay and that was my biggest concern back in those days, as I didn’t have the money to rent a studio apartment and had to settle for a paying guest house.

Coming here I found out that most paying guest houses were nothing but shitty places put up for rent to strip off money from people at very very absurd rates.

After a few days, I moved into a much better paying guest house which I found out through one of my college buddies, who was also the one who recommended AngelList to me in the first place.

Coming to Bangalore all on my own was one of the best things that have happened to me. This little trip of mine erased all my fears of settling into an unknown city far away from home, all alone.

Boarding that flight alone, searching for a place to stay, everything helped me gain confidence in myself which I kind of lacked when it came to traveling and all.

Had I came in with my parents or a friend, I would have never witnessed this moment and might not have gotten over the fear of plunging yourself into the unknown.

Now that I was finally here, all settled down, it was time to get to business, the main reason I came to Bangalore.

If you ever get a chance to plunge yourself into the unknown, go to a new place all alone, don’t hesitate, just do it.

<Android> Start coding </Android>

I finally joined a startup named DriveU as an Android Engineer in Koramangala, Bangalore and was regarded as an “experienced fresher” in the company as I had worked on some apps out of my hobby which was live on Play Store. One hell of an oxymoron there.

The first day itself was quite a ride, I got a MacBook Pro (quite excited there, as I never used a MacBook before), was presented with the current app codebase and told to sort out crashes and bugs that might be present in the current app.

Power Bank on a MacBook Pro
Photo Credit: Rahul Chowdhury

The moment I touched the codebase my so-called “experience” went down to zero.  I had never coded in an industry standard approach before and was quite messed up there. It took me

I had never coded in an industry standard approach before and was quite messed up there. It took me about a week to understand the code and all the new stuff that I hadn’t heard before, let alone using them.

I guess this was the start to a new me, and thankfully the senior developer there helped me out in getting used to the pattern and new stuff.

From that time onwards, I was thrown into a whirlwind, not knowing what’s going on around me, as I had so much to learn in there and in such a short time and along with that ship updates to the app, and everyone expected me to work super fast as it was a fast-paced environment and people knew that I had some kind of experience.

I guess the “experience” thing got me messed up the most.

During the interview by “experience”, I meant that I had developed some apps on my own and knew how to roll out an app out of thin air. This, however, was something on a completely higher level, and I needed time to get around it.

Unfortunately, time was a luxury I didn’t have much at that time.

This led to long hours every day to meet deadlines, working on weekends for weeks, getting into trouble with tech leads, screwing up my health and ultimately getting all burned out.

I was completely frustrated at a point and started looking for a way out. I even bagged an offer from a different startup but I don’t know why I wanted to stay in the current startup and keep going.

Maybe some part of me thought that I was giving up too soon. Nevertheless, I refused the offer and stayed.

Months later, I am still in the same company, made some great friends, and learned a lot in the time, both inside and outside the company.

I hit the gym every evening with the COO of the company who is a very friendly guy and also a great trainer. In my free time, I crack jokes with everyone there including the CPO.

I guess this is one of the perks of working in a small company, no matter how small your role is, you are recognized by everyone there and are part of these mini celebrations that happens every now and then.

I am going steady now, always learning new stuff and trying to achieve a higher level of both mental and physical health, which is important to maintain a steady growth.

If you feel like giving up after some time of grueling pressure, don’t, just stick a little longer and see if it makes the staying worthwhile, if not, then move on. Also, during the interview mention your experience level with as much clarity as possible so that you don’t run into the same problems as me.

Tinkering with side projects

One of my constructive habits is that I like to create new stuff as side projects every now and then because the truth is that I can’t keep an idea inside my head for long when I know that I can implement it.

One such product that I developed during my days in the startup is an Android app called Magnify which suggests to you relevant Instagram hashtags by analyzing your photo using artificial intelligence.

The huge benefit of this side project has been me leveling up my app development skills, and also writing server-side scripts to support backend architecture for the app.

I am always learning something new while developing this app and adding new features to it.

If you have an idea that you think you can implement either with your current skills or by acquiring some new ones, do implement it. You will find that you have leveled up your skills in a whole new way and also will gain a sense of satisfaction to have created something entirely yourself.

Boiling down

It has been a great experience for me in the past year, jumping into a new dimension and enhancing myself in more ways than one, and I am still looking to improve myself every way I can.

I can proudly say that the decision I made a year ago was one of the best and I am glad that I chose this path, though it f**ked me up a little on the way and might again in the future.

What would you do if you were to face the same situation?

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