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This Developer Earns RM12k a Month, and He Hasn't Even Graduated from University Yet

  Jo H.     05 Aug 2019

Malaysia is currently suffering through a talent gap within tech industries. Companies are desperate for the talent that could help them fulfill their technological vision, but they just can't find the right people for the job. 

Talent gaps usually translate to big bucks for developers, and local companies often find themselves resorting to overseas hires to get the job done.

This may come as a surprise to developers working today, as a quick glance through Jobstreet shows that entry-level developers can only expect between RM2,000 - RM3,500 in salary. 

What's going on?

Increase Skills & The Pay Will Come

More than a degree from a respectable university, developers need to work consistently to pick up and sharpen skills that would increase their value. Understanding new technology, industry standards and best practices can do a lot to increase a developer's value—and how much they can charge. 

Adam, a seasoned contract developer working with TribeHired truly lives this principle. Adam already earns close to RM12,000 a month from TribeHired by leveraging his skills in NodeJS and ReactJS—and he's still in his final year of university. 

Adam has been tinkering with Java since he was sixteen. His father introduced him to the language, and he has been a programmer ever since. 

With an early introduction, Adam was able to transition from Java to PHP (a web framework), then to Python, Django, and Flask. However, Adam found his home in full-stack Javascript, though he has experience working with Docker, Redis, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) as well. 

"Before that I used to use python for the backend and the syntax is quite [different]. When I use Javascript, I don’t have to switch mindsets from backend to frontend because the code is very similar,” said Adam. 

Bagging a Big Client From The Start

Adam has been working with ExpressJS for 2-3 years now, but the true test of his mastery came to him approximately 6 months ago, when he accepted his first contract from TribeHired. 

"My first contract was with a large corporate,” said Adam. “I worked on their customer relationship management (CRM) system where I migrated their old systems from SOAP to REST."

Adam worked on a React app with ExpressJS in the backend to improve upon an essential user-facing function. 

"They were sunsetting their old systems. It’s very old. It’s ancient technology."

The first surprise to Adam was the work culture in the 10-20 person team. 

"When I started taking this job full-time, I thought it would be very strict. Like no chill, but that’s not the case. As long as you deliver, they’re not very particular [about strictly working 9-5]."

Learning to Work on Big Projects With Big Companies

Adam was used to working by himself; but his time with the large company forced him to quickly pick up on what his colleagues did around him, and adapt accordingly. 

That is exactly how Adam ended up using his tech stack for this project. He was experienced in ExpressJS, and the company hired him specifically for that, so he simply adapted to the company’s vision and did his best to execute. 

The next big skill he learned was SCRUM, which teaches developers to break down tough tasks given by clients. The company taught him how to break down complex problems into user requirements, which would be further broken down into assignable chunks for the dev team. 

Observing the efficacy of SCRUM helped Adam refine his project management skills, which incorporates both SCRUM and test-driven development (TDD). As an added bonus, Adam is now able to give a more accurate estimation of time for his clients too. 

"Before SCRUM, I’d end up missing the deadline and I have to compensate for that,” reminisced Adam. “But after I started using SCRUM, the tasks become much more manageable and I’m able to give more accurate deadlines for each of the subtasks."

Adam continues to apply both SCRUM and TDD with the 2-3 developers he has working under him (outside of TribeHired). 

Working as a contract developer will certainly help budding developers learn the skills needed to level up, but one cannot underscore the difficulties many self-employed workers inevitably face—payday mayday. 

A Lesson Worth RM20,000

Prior to his time with TribeHired, Adam met the people behind an e-commerce site at an entrepreneur event, and was tasked with a project worth RM20,000. He spent a month working on their project, but the company ended up ghosting him once he had sent them mockups. 

Adam said that "usually when you get clients and deal with them, they flake a lot”.

“But with TribeHired it’s very straightforward. Once you get a job, you sign a contract, and everything is good to go. And the payment is always on time, so that’s a plus."

Contract developers have to work harder, and usually guarantee a much higher level of quality. As such, Adam thinks that contract developers aren't just good for existing workers to gain the necessary skills, but they are also better for employers too. 

With Adam’s experience and work procedures one may even forget that he’s a young lad still in university, but that is the beauty of coding. Before he could hold his degree, Adam’s expertise has allowed him to work with a big-brand telco, and the value of his cumulative learnings has allowed him to earn a salary even full-time workers would envy. 

Though he lacks traditional qualifications in his resume, Adam is able to find work that suits his student lifestyle, and work on his own terms. 

The secret here is that Adam has carved out a reputation for himself as a master of his Javascript craft through a variety of contract work, and has the skills to show for it. 

Master your own craft and you could, too. 

TribeHired Contract Developer Marketplace

TribeHired connects self-employed developers with companies looking for talent immediately. Our process is admittedly strict—we only work with the top 1% of tech talent under our marketplace. 

If you pass though, employers will be competing for you. 

As a contract developer, you can either work 20 or 40 hours every week. You have the flexibility to do so at any time you like, as long as you deliver. Rather than being pinned down to one job with a small job scope, TribeHired allows our developers to choose a project to work on, all without the stress of collecting payments. 

Article written by Ellia Pikri

Do you think you have what it takes? Then sign up here, and you can master your own craft by working on interesting projects just like Adam did. 

"Work on your own terms, work that fits your lifestyle."