From Cab Driver To Software Engineer, Here’s How Online Coding Course Changed This Bihar Youth’s Life

A taxi driver from Bihar left his driving life behind and now works as a software engineer at WebEngage. Thanks to a 30-week programming course, which he believes landed him a job as a software engineer.

Ashish Raj hails from Munger and is the son of a farmer whose family is not financially sound. After completing his schooling, he moved to Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh for higher studies. His father spent his life savings on his son’s freshman tuition.

On the advice of his friends and family, Ashish pursued an electrical engineering degree in hopes of getting a government job. However, he struggled to make ends meet in the city.

Poor family background

“I don’t come from a financially strong background, which meant I had limited opportunities to grow up. When I was growing up in Bihar, the only goal for the youth was to get a government job. In school, the mindset was to be an engineer because it’s the shortest way to get into the government sector,” Ashish said News18.

“The financial situation was terrible for a family like ours. I saw in freshman year that most of my seniors who passed college didn’t get any jobs at all. I couldn’t get a loan at the time, but I needed money for myself and my family because I’m away from home,” he added.

To make ends meet, Ashish enlisted the help of his cousin to learn to drive and within time earned a driver’s license. He started working as a driver in Bhopal at the taxi aggregator Uber.

“My whole family was very disappointed because they spent everything on my education. Indian families value education more than anything else. That was the hardest time I’ve ever experienced,” he said.

He got into a catch situation. He couldn’t stop driving because he needed money and driving didn’t leave him the time or means to learn. He could not buy additional supplies, including books, dorm fees, etc., which he needed when he reduced his working hours.

Stumbled across short-term programming course

At that point, the Bihar native stumbled across a 30-week short-term course in full-stack web development at Masai. In April 2020 he took part in the course and learned HTML, Javascript, CSS and the MERN stack. As part of his project work, he also built a clone of the professional networking website LinkedIn.

Ashish has always had an interest in computers. It reminded him of his childhood days when he spent a lot of time in his uncle’s internet cafe. He dared to take the coding course because he didn’t have to pay anything for it. “If it doesn’t work out, I won’t pay them any money, and if I get a job, anything is better than driving a cab,” he said.

After completing the 30-week course, he now believes: “There are people who do four years of CS and at that point have less knowledge than me. Right now I’m working in an area that they can’t get into because they don’t have software development skills,” he adds.

It took Ashish nearly three weeks to get the job after completing his course. He didn’t get the first job he applied for due to a lack of interviews, but he took every interview as a learning curve. “I took part in 6-7 interviews. I prepared for it by taking feedback from the past and trying to improve,” he explained.

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

Though he didn’t reveal his salary, Ashish said it was more than what he was earning plus “doing a better job.”

For him, striving for something better doesn’t end here: “I want to keep growing and get a better salary package in the future. At first I only wanted to do good things in life, now I want to improve myself as a software developer, earn more money and help my family. I just want to keep doing this job and grow and earn more by doing something I loved doing as a kid,” he said.

When asked how important English skills are for tech jobs, he says communication and understanding are key factors. Therefore, knowledge of English is helpful. “I’m improving my writing skills, but programming is a language of its own. Once you understand what to do, you can do it. I think English is a crucial basic skill. The more fluent you get the better, but English skills are important in engineering,” he said.

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