College dropout, taxi driver become software developer, online coding course with credits

Ashish Raj, a native of Munger, Bihar has managed to move past the life of a driver where he used to pick up and drop people off at the airport and is currently working as a software engineer at WebEngage. How? ‘Or’ What? Perfection. A 30-week coding course landed him a job as a software developer.

The son of a farmer, Ashish’s family is not well off financially. After completing his education, he moved to Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh to continue his education. His father spent all of his savings on Ashish’s freshman fees in college. Ashish earned an electrical engineering degree on the advice of friends and family, hoping to land a job in the government sector. But he was struggling to make ends meet in Bhopal.

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“I don’t really come from a very strong financial background, which limited my opportunities to grow. Growing up in Bihar, there is only one focus for young people there. Get a government job. In school, the mindset is to become an electrician or a civil engineer because that’s the shortest route to getting a good government job,” says Ashish.

“The financial situation was very bad for a large family like ours, and I only saw the first year that most of my seniors who passed out had no jobs. I couldn’t take out a loan, I really had nothing to take out a loan against, and that’s when the money issues got really bad for us. I needed money for my family and myself, being away from home,” he told

To make ends meet, he took his cousin’s help to learn how to drive a car and got a driver’s license for the same. He started working as a driver in Bhopal with taxi aggregator Uber.

“My whole family was disappointed because they had spent everything for me to study. Indian families value education more than anything. This is the hardest time I have ever been through,” Ashish said. He was caught in a difficult situation. He couldn’t stop driving because he needed the money, and driving left him neither the time nor the resources not to study. He did not have enough money to buy additional supplies, including books, accommodations, etc., needed if he reduced his working hours.

I couldn’t stop driving because we needed the money and I couldn’t study either because we didn’t have enough money for it, Ashish said.

That’s when Ashish stumbled across a short-term (30-week) full web development course at Masai. He took the course in April 2020 and learned HTML, CSS, Javascript as well as the MERN stack. He also built a clone of the professional networking website LinkedIn as part of his project work.

He had an interest in computers. It reminded him of his childhood when he spent much of his childhood in his uncle’s internet cafe.

He says he took a chance on the coding course because he didn’t have to pay anything for it. “If it doesn’t work, I won’t give them anything and if I find a job, anything will be better than driving a taxi,” he says.

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At the end of the 30-week course, he now believes, “There are people who do four years of computer science who know less than I do at this point, and I’m working in a field right now that they can’t. not enter because they have no software development skills,” he adds.

For Ashish, it took him about three weeks to get the job after completing his course. He didn’t land the first job he applied for because he lacked interview skills, but he took each interview as a learning step. “I had 6-7 interviews. I used to prepare for interviews by taking feedback from past interviews and trying to improve myself,” says Ashish.

For his job at WebEngage, he first had to pass a coding test, followed by a technical interview. After which, rounds of interviews with the manager and HR. After which, he finally got the job.

Although he hasn’t revealed his salary, he says it’s more than what he was earning, more “doing a better job”. “The course taught me everything there is to know about coding.”

The quest for better doesn’t stop there for Ashish: “For the future, I want to grow more, get a better salary package. At first I just wanted to do good in life, now I want to grow as a software developer, earn more money and help my family. I just want to keep doing this and grow and earn more doing something that I loved doing as a kid.”

When asked how important it is to know English when it comes to tech jobs, he says communication and understanding are important factors. Therefore, knowing English really helps. “My writing skills are still improving, but coding is a language in its own right. Once you understand what needs to be done, you can do it. I think English is a very important basic skill. The more fluent you are the better, but knowing English is important in technology,” he explains.

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