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2017 I quit my job at Small Improvements. I made the decision to move on after being 2,5 years a developer at this great company. It was a tough decision to make, because the company had a huge impact on me from a personal and professional perspective. It is always hard to move on. But then again, I didn’t want to get too comfortable. And I don’t want to get stuck in one particular lifestyle. I want to experience different things. I don’t want to look back one day and realize that I never even tried anything different.

The obvious next step would have been to apply at another company. In my long term planning, I always imagined to work for a larger company in order to compare the different work environments. But I decided against it for now. It simply didn’t feel like the right time.

The not so obvious next step would be being self-employed. Over the last year, I’ve put a lot of effort into my website and I started teaching people about web development, JavaScript and React. I received great feedback over these months and I am so grateful for it. For the last year, I had a strict routine: my day job was 9 to 6, every other free minute would mostly go into my open source projects. It was a tough time to balance personal life, professional life and semi professional side-projects, but somehow I managed to avoid the burnout even though I sometimes felt not far away from it. That’s another reason why I had to change something in my life.

Now, I want to be bold and try to make this next step to have more time for the things that I truly value. I would separate these into four cornerstones: teaching, making, freelancing and volunteering. You can find out about these cornerstones in the article in case you want to work with me :-)

Teaching

The first cornerstone of my endeavour is teaching. Writing about my own learnings in web development started as a sheer experiment. I enjoyed the process of writing, digging into the problems by trying to explain them to myself, and bringing the solutions on paper in concrete yet simple words. I never expected others to read about it. Yet, I grew an audience of readers. It wasn’t my own doing, but the doing of a great community and great people such as Mark Erikson, Dan Abramov and Ali Sharif who supported me. The list of people that helped me to get where I am now could go on and on. All these people gave me the opportunity to teach. An activity that I discovered as a meaningful for my life.

I want to continue teaching others. So far, I have written two ebooks about learning React and learning Redux and MobX, and launched a platform to learn React as a community by helping each other and by taking courses on it. By shifting to self-employment, I hope I can gather enough resources to lift this endeavour on the next level. In addition, I count on all the support I get from you to keep going with it. The community in React and general JavaScript is a great inspiration for me and motivates me to keep going. It would mean a lot to me to teach others and to keep learning myself.

Your opportunities:

  • You are blogging about web development yourself but want to attract a bigger audience for your own website? I offer my website for guest blog posts that are relevant to JavaScript. You can consider to write a guest article about your specific topic and I help you to get started with useful tips along the way.

  • You are building a great library, framework or third-party integration that is relevant to JavaScript? Together, we could find a way to offer other developers a way to dive into your solution by giving them a beginner friendly tutorial. Exposure is always a great way to find an audience for your idea.

  • You want to teach others as well? My biggest advice is to start a personal blog yourself. But if you just want to get started in contributing to a community of like minded people in the domain of React, you can checkout this Slack Group where people help each other to learn React.

  • You just want to support me so that I can continue providing teaching material for students? Checkout my Patreon and be my Patron. That way you can unlock course content of mine over time too. I would love to have you on board!

Making

The second cornerstone of my next endeavour is making new stuff. While I worked in my last 9 to 5 job, I collected a huge list of ideas. I guess most of the people are keeping such a list, but there is never enough time to tackle all of these items. Recently, it was the first time that I showed my collected ideas to someone else and that particular person and me as well were astonished that I have gathered over 1000 items in various lists. And yes, I need to update my apps too :)

All these items are ideas about applications, things I want to learn, things I would like to teach and things I want to write about. But as full-time employee, you never find the time to do all these things. Most people decide to tackle these items when they retire. But I don’t want to wait. Maybe I even don’t find the time right now, where I have to figure out how to earn my own share. But that’s what this is all about. That’s why I see the future months as my personal part time off to tackle these things that otherwise I would have never had time for. You only live once, don’t you? :-)

A couple of things I have built or contributed along the way. Just if you are curious and want to check it out:

Freelancing

All this jabbering about being self-employed, teaching others and making doesn’t work without generating any income whatsoever. That’s why my third cornerstone is freelancing. After working for a couple of years with like minded colleagues in the 9 to 5 world, I have always wanted to give freelancing a shot in my life. In the past, I had a couple of freelance gigs but it was never meant to be my main source of income. Now, I thought it would be the perfect time to give it a shot. Apart from all the teaching and building, I could keep my mind sharp by working closely with clients on applications and their problems. I call it freelancing, but you can vision it as consulting too. I can dive deep into the code and contribute but also give high level advice for the project.

So, if you are seeking for a remote software engineer, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I want to deep dive into your web and mobile applications, however, I would also be able to bootstrap them for you.

Your opportunities:

  • You have a product idea but can’t implement the application yourself? I am able to build a MVP from scratch. It would be a technological vertical cut through implementing it from client-side application, connecting it to a database, deploying and hosting it. Afterward, it can go beyond the initial MVP. It is up to you how far it goes. It’s your opportunity to have me as dedicated developer for your idea.

  • Your team is migrating to React and its ecosystem but no one is there for a proper on-boarding? I gathered plenty of experiences in the domain of JavaScript during the last years, especially in React, and can help you transitioning to React. In my recent company, I made the exact same experiences coming from an Angular 1.x application. There were a lot of challenges to overcome, but as a team we managed to find a way. It’s your opportunity to have me as consultant.

  • Your company wants to get involved in open sourcing to attract new engineers for your development department? I can help you to spot and extract potential re-usable building blocks from your code base to enable everyone to use it as an open source library. Open sourcing makes any company more attractive, because you give something back to the community. In my last job, we open sourced a couple of libraries, too.

  • Your application needs more contributing developers? In the past, I have collected enough knowledge to work efficiently in large code bases with JavaScript. I would want to be invested in your project, to learn but frankly, also to earn my share. The other way around, you get a reliable developer who is eager to have an impact in your tech stack.

In addition, I would consider other opportunities, too, which would enable me to learn about one of the following things (no particular order, but the ones with the exclamation point would be most important):

  • Get into other Programming Languages:
    • Python (!)
    • Elixir
    • Reason
    • ClojureScript
    • Elm
  • Get into other Domains:
    • Machine Learning (!)
    • VR (WebVR, ReactVR, …)
  • Get into new Tech in web and JS:
    • (!) GraphQL
    • WebAssembly

In order to teach others about programming, I need to learn myself. Maybe you have a project that I can contribute to as freelancer or you just want to support me somehow that I can write about these things.

Volunteering

As a software engineer, it is too easy to get lost in your tech bubble without thinking about any third-parties and just stick to a certain group of people. But as I see it, it is so valuable to step outside of your bubble to broaden your horizon and to be there for others. Software engineers are often privileged to do such a step. Living a different lifestyle and then again having the opportunity to step in for others.

That’s why I made the decision that I want to accomplish all the previous cornerstones, teaching, making and freelancing, from abroad. I want to immerse in different cultures and countries, trying to avoid to be exposed to the tech bubble all the time, and get as much as inspiration from the people in these countries and their culture.

I always found it meaningful to give something back to less blessed people. When traveling, I don’t want to spend my days as a tourist in a foreign country. I want to have an impact while traveling. Especially, I want to be able to leave an impact on children’s education in developing countries by teaching myself or educating others about it. I deeply hope that I will get to know those small organizations that want to make a change where I can have an impact and spend some of my remaining time outside of the tech bubble.

Your opportunities:

  • You are from a developing country and want to get into tech? You are learning about JavaScript and React? You can enrol in my courses for a good discount or even for free. Simply create an account on Road to React and reach out to me with your email address.

  • You have a platform where you sell educational content? Don’t think only about the western world market, but everyone else who is left out because the prices for the content is too high for them. That’s why I built this Purchasing Parity Power for JavaScript. You can use it as opt-in functionality on your course platform to make things affordable for others around the world.

  • You know of any small organizations around the world where people can have an impact? You can add the organization or project to the open source repository so that others have a way to find them. The list is an experiment to crowdsource these organizations so that people traveling around these countries can have an impact. Personally, I would want to have the chance to stop by, too.


So yeah, it is an exciting time for me right now, but somehow I will figure it out. If I don’t, I will be back to my previous life in a couple of months. Finally, I hope there was at least one opportunity for you to work together with me. Otherwise, there are a couple of ways to simply support me. Looking forward to hearing from you! :-)

Build a Hacker News App along the way. No setup configuration. No tooling. No Redux. Plain React in 190+ pages of learning material. Learn React like 14.500+ readers.

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