Full Stack Ahead

Life is full of “sliding doors” moments. It’s what you do with the opportunity in front of you that matters.

The Being Group’s Full Stack Developer, Yutama Budiman, tells us how not getting into medical school in Jakarta led to a satisfying new life and career in Sydney.

Real wild child

I was born in northern Jakarta, Indonesia, and lived there until I moved to Australia at 20 — eight years ago. When I was younger, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was the typical kind of guy who never had to study hard at school, but I still got good marks.

I was the naughtiest kid! I think I may have ADHD because my mum decided my little brother, Yoganda, should go and live with my uncle for a short while, as I was a bit too dangerous for him when he was a baby. I cut TV and computer cables at home, put my hand in a blender, broke things — just generally did a lot of a lot of crazy stuff. I’m glad to say I’ve calmed down a little over the years. (Yoganda and my other younger brother, Yoel, are fine by the way!)

I applied to the prestigious University of Indonesia to study medicine when I was 17. But the not studying thing didn’t work out very well for me — I didn’t get in. If I think about it now, I was competing with thousands of people for about 20 places. I’m kind of glad I didn’t get accepted. I didn’t really want to be a doctor (I’m afraid of blood) so it probably would not have gone well. Being a doctor was seen as a golden ticket to wealth when I was growing up, which was why, I suppose, I thought it might be a good idea.

From gamer to coder

My father owns a business that makes rubber parts for the car industry and we have a family business in the U.S. that supplies mini markets across the country. My father would have liked me to go into the family business, but I was really determined to make my own way in life. I didn’t find rubber parts very interesting.

As a child, I always had a PlayStation or some computer game with me, so I figured that if I studied computers, I could get to play more games. I must have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours pIaying a strategy game called Dota. I didn’t really have a back-up plan, but fortunately my father thought that would be a good idea, so I started studying IT.

Along the way I got a few freelancing jobs in agencies. They always ended up asking me to work on their websites, so I quickly got a lot of real-world experience.

I love a sunburnt country

During this time, one of my best friends had travelled to Australia and told me it was possible to work, study, and earn good money here. So I decided to do the same. I soon found out it is possible to study and earn good money in Australia — as long as you’re prepared to work 80 hours a week!

When I got here that’s exactly what I did. I worked really hard in hospitality. I became a pretty good barman, because I had to put myself through a Bachelor of IT at Victoria University, majoring in networking. Bar work isn’t easy and can be very stressful when it gets busy. The better you are at your job, the more demands are put on you. In the bar, some mornings I’d be making coffees for the morning rush and the chefs would just stand behind me demanding I make them a coffee, right then. I’d just say: “Dude, can’t you see I’m busy?” I think work should always be a nice place to be.

I found it easy to adapt to life in Australia. This might sound strange, but the biggest shock was having to do a lot more for myself, which was probably a good thing. At home in Indonesia, we had people helping us around the house. It was just the way things were. It was a big change for me when I arrived in Australia, having to do everything for myself. Though having help around the house wasn’t unusual at all, I wouldn’t say I grew up privileged.

I enjoy my life here. I enjoy my independence and making my own way in life. I even love the weather — when it’s hot and when it’s cold. It’s way less humid than home.

One thing I really love doing is going to the gym. Because I train hard, I eat a lot and people at work are often amazed at how much I have for lunch. I started because a friend I met in hospitality was really big and strong and I asked: “How did you get like that bro?” I ended up training with him and I’ve never stopped.

Hard lessons

Just before COVID hit, I had an idea for an e-commerce platform to connect international travellers who might have room in their luggage, with people wanting to send things overseas. I know it might seem to have security problems, but cyber security is one of my interests and making the project safe and secure was essential.

In the end, the project didn’t get off the ground, but I did learn an enormous amount. The key thing was that collaboration is so important. I needed people around me, but I didn’t have them. I was developing, marketing, looking for funding, and trying to make connections all by myself.

Building the product, creating the business plan, and finding people that might want to use the platform was overwhelming, because I was studying and working at the same time. It’s not an excuse, but what I needed to do was build more connections so I had more people to work with. It was impossible by myself and, looking back, that was a really difficult time in my life.

I had a friend in Indonesia who wanted to hear my pitch, but right before I was meant to fly to meet with him, COVID happened, and it all fell over. The timing wasn’t great. Life might have been very different if we’d met.

Doing it my way

I’m very glad I landed a job at The Being Group. For me, it’s about working with nice people. I feel very lucky to have found BEING because, living away from my home and family, it’s great to have the support, care and respect of a bunch of nice people at work.

One third of your life, or more, is spent at work, so it’s incredibly important to me to spend that time with people who respect and trust me.

Part of my job, as someone who works on both the front and back-end of websites, is keeping up with trending technologies. You don’t want to be left behind. In the future I’d love to develop big websites, end-to-end, with new technologies, like the programming language, React.

My parents are in the U.S. now. I know my dad would like me to join the business, but I prefer to be here — living and working my own way. I want to be a success on my own, so I can say: ‘Hey dad, look. Look at what I did!”

If Yutama wasn’t a Full Stack Developer at The Being Group, he’d be running Yutama’s Burger Restaurant and Gym.

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