Take a Chance Even If Things Sound Weird and You Don't Feel Ready: How Wemerson Learned to Code and Landed a Dream Job in a Web3 Startup
- Listen on Apple Podcasts
- Listen on Google Podcasts
- Listen on Spotify
- Listen on Pocket Casts
- Listen on Castro
- Listen on Breaker
🎙 About the episode
Meet Wemerson Queiroz 🇧🇷! Wemerson never thought he was going to become a developer. He started studying computer science, dropped out, and spent ten years working in sales because he wanted to earn money immediately. Ten years later, he realized he was unhappy (after all, money is not everything), learned to code, and got his first developer job in no time!
🔗 Connect with Wemerson
- Wemerson's journey into tech (02:44)
- How important is money? (05:13)
- How Wemerson decided to leave his previous career behind and learn to code (06:45)
- On diving head-first into Blockchain and Solidity... and then going back to basics (08:29)
- How Wemerson landed his first developer job after only three months of learning to code (09:47)
- Why junior developers should look for work opportunities as soon as they can (11:00)
- On motivation, passion, and learning (14:29)
- Why context matters in problem-solving (15:43)
- About the Web3 startup excal.tv, where Wemerson got his first developer job (18:18)
- What's it like working at a startup as a junior developer? (20:50)
- How Wemerson landed this opportunity? (25:18)
- Was Emerson put off by an unorthodox interview process? (26:59)
- Wemerson's plans for the future (27:56)
🧰 Resources mentioned
⭐️ Leave a Review
If you enjoy this episode, please leave a 5-star review here and let us know who you want to see on the next podcast.
You can also Tweet Alex from Scrimba at @bookercodes and tell them what lessons you learned from the episode so they can thank you personally for tuning in 🙏
Sometimes even if it's something strange, you need to try. I said, yes. And turns out I'm here. I have my first opportunity and it's doing really well. So yeah, just try it.
Hello and welcome to The Scrimba Podcast. On this weekly show, I speak with successful devs about their advice on learning to code and getting your first junior dev job. I'm Alex, and today I'm joined by Wemerson Queiroz. Originally from Brazil, he now works as a front end web developer in London. Wemerson's story is super relatable because he started computer science in school, obviously had an interest in it, but basically decided to drop that and pursue sales and immediate money. It was good. He built his first career on sales. But it did not fulfill him. I think this is something that young people are very aware of, and people a bit further in their career think about a lot. It's amazing that we get to learn from Wemerson who's overcome bats. Funnily enough, the catalyst for Wemerson was Web 3. Unfortunately Web 3 is a bit tainted by crypto grifts and NFT nonsense.
I thought that was very unorthodox. And so I challenged Wemerson directly. Helping a founder get their product off the ground while getting paid, getting real world experience, and maybe, I'm not sure about Wemerson in this case, but maybe even getting a stake in the company is not something we've explored on the podcast before, but I think a very exciting avenue for new developers to be aware of. In this episode we learned from Wemerson's story precisely how he learned to code quite quickly, how we got recruited by a recruiter to work with this company. But we also explore the different types of startups out there and where the opportunities within them lie for new developers. You are listening to the Scrimba Podcast. Let's get into it.
Basically I always have been related to tech since I was a child, always taking pieces apart of headsets, cars, and my first video games, and trying to mount them back. So I always tried to learn about how things worked. My first job in tech was actually a help desk in Brazil. And I quit after two years. Being young, you do some mistakes. And then stayed away from the tech properly, say, for about 10 years. Even though that every job that I had in my life had some techy thing, helping people with the computer, fixing up computers as well inside the job, et cetera. But since I came back to UK, I was like, "I need to get back to tech. I miss it a lot." And I got the first certification here, [inaudible 00:03:33] for the help desk as well. And I started to work straight away, really since about the second year that I was here. And this year in February, I got interested to the blockchain site and started to study. And people say, "Look, you need to change a little bit what you are studying. You're doing it wrong."
That's amazing to hear. In terms of the last 10 years or so, it sounds like, you did a few different jobs all related to technology. How much coding and stuff was involved with those jobs?
No coding at all during this whole time. The only experience that I had prior to this was at the uni in Brazil. I have done logic and my final task was just making a insurance number validator. It's 11 digits, and we had to validate it with the last two digits. So it was just a simple math. So this was my only experience in coding until now.
What did you study exactly? What was the curriculum called?
Wait, so you studied computer science?
I started that and I quit.
I quit the uni, I quit the IT job and started doing sales. I was like, "Okay, I need my money." And it started doing sales and working for money, chasing for money. But in the end, money doesn't make me happy. That's why I stayed away about 10 years with chasing money without knowing what I actually wanted with my life.
I think it's really valuable to learn from your experience there because obviously, money is important. It means we can support our families, lead a healthy, happy life, travel, all that good stuff. But in terms of your lifestyle, there's a certain number that will unlock a certain lifestyle. And beyond that, oftentimes it's not worth earning more compared to actually doing something that you find fulfilling and gives you purpose and meaning. I guess it sounds like in sales, there was money, but less purpose and meaning. And if you've been tinkering with computers, your whole life, probably you enjoy problem solving and stuff as well.
Yeah. I totally agree. On sales, I used to say that I always had the feeling that I wasn't being myself because sometimes I had to sell something that I didn't believe on it.
What were you selling?
A lot of things, like printers for ERP, so to print receipts. I used to sell stuff for restaurants.
Oh the point of sales stuff. Yeah.
Yeah. Point of sales, products for bakery, basically all the machines that a restaurant would need [inaudible 00:06:39], fridge, these kind of stuff I used to sell for different kind of food.
How did you get to the point where you decided you wanted to leave sales and pursue programming more seriously? I do know as well that you immigrated from Brazil to the UK.
Yeah. My experience in Brazil, it wasn't really relevant here. So I couldn't use anything at all because it was just related to sales and it was something that I really didn't want to get back to. So I had to get the first job that I got as soon I arrived just to have money and started to study, obviously, English and the course for the [inaudible 00:07:16]. I even tried accounting, but after two months as always, I was like, "Jesus Christ, this is annoying. I can't handle it." And then I said, "Look, I definitely need to eat my humble pie and get back to the techy side, which is the best thing I have used before I have done, and except that I know I'm good. I'm easy to learn anything. If you give me a problem, I will handle it." So I always liked handling problems, solving problems. So yeah, I decided that at that point I need to get back to the IT.
You said you decided to eat the humble pie. What about the transition required humility?
Basically, because I think I was just immature when I was 18, when I got my first job. And I quit the job because I had a discussion with my boss and I couldn't handle that emotionally. And then I decided to quit everything because I wasn't too mature. I didn't have someone to say, "Look, you're doing something wrong." I just said, "I give up and I will change everything."
That's never an easy thing to face, but everybody who's been in that position just like you, I suppose, eventually realizes you have to eat that humble pie and crack on with it basically. When you eventually decided to get into coding, did you jump straight into the blockchain stuff?
At the beginning last year, the GameFi, which is the games on blockchain that you use to make you play and receive money on top of that. I used to play these games as well. Okay. I want to know how it works. And I started to play around and see how it works. And I started to see people losing money. I was like, "Look, there's something that we need to learn here." And then I decided to go and understand the background of it, which was the solidity language mainly because it was on Ethereum network. And because of that, I started studying the Ethereum. I have done some blockchain courses to understand how it works. And then I went to the language, the solidity, and obviously having some troubles to understand some steps. I started to get the groups and basically two weeks studying, people said, "Look, you're doing it wrong. Go to the beginning, do the basic, and then you come back to the solidity." But after they started doing the front end with these three languages, I was like, "Well this is good. I'm liking it." And I started to apply for jobs. After that, I'm doing these job applications. I had no answer at all, not an answer. So I was like, "Okay, that's fine. I'm still on my learning curve. It's not going to be a problem."
How many months into your journey were you at that point, Wemerson?
It was pretty fast. I started solidity in February and then moved to the front end in March and got my job in May.
That's pretty rapid. Yeah. Nice.
It was mind blowing. I used to say that I still don't believe how things happened because it wasn't even me applying for this job. The recruiter found me and he said, "Look, I have this job opportunity here that is related to the blockchain," because he saw my courses on my CV and after some conversation, he said, "Okay, if you're happy, I'll send your details to the owner. And he going to give you a call." And at the first point, we just had this chart and he made me some blockchain related questions. It was okay to answer. And I went to his house, do the interview, and he asked me to create a simple website showing some elements on the screen for the project. And I have done that in React because I started to learn React on Scrimba. That's how I learned about Scrimba. And he said, "Look, can you do it in React?" I said, "Okay, let's do it in React." And I did. And he say, "Okay, the interview was on Saturday." And he said, "You can start on Monday." And I'm here since 1st of May.
It sounds like you have got an opportunity to continue learning and advancing your skills while getting paid essentially. But also you're now practicing collaboration, right? Because you're not just by yourself making projects, you are collaborating on what is essentially a product and all the exciting challenges that come with that.
Yeah. For me, I think the biggest challenge as a junior developer is to have ideas to do something. If you say "Wemerson, I need you to do this," I'll try to do it. I'll learn it. I will make my research and I'll give it back to you. But for me, just to take something from my head and build up something from the ground, I still have this problem. Obviously I think it's for any professional. If you are a photographer, obviously you don't have the ideas for the right angles. Okay, obviously you can just point and shoot, fine. But it takes time to have these experience and learn how to take the better pictures. So I think it's the same. You can just apply it for developing as well. So you can do your stuff, you learn the tech, but you have to get the feeling of how to build and what to build. It's totally different than-
I hope you will pardon the interruption. But I wanted to please ask that if you're enjoying this episode of The Scrimba Podcast that you do as a favor and share it with your friends on social media, like on Twitter, for example, or maybe you can share it in your community, maybe you're in a Facebook group or a disc community, or you have some buddies who are also learning to code. It'd be awesome if you shared this episode or one of the other podcast episodes with them because this is truly the best way to help us reach new listeners and keeps us knowing that this is something you enjoy and we should continue making more of. Word of mouth really is the best way to help support a podcast like this, so a big thank you in advance. If you haven't already, it would also be very much appreciated if you headed to Spotify or Apple podcasts and left The Scrimba Podcast a cheeky five star review because again, that really helps us reach new listeners.
In case you're new here, this is a weekly podcast. Every single Tuesday without fail for over a year, we haven't missed a single week. One week, we speak to a successful newly hired developer like Wemerson, and the week after we speak with an industry expert. And this way we hope you're learning from both sides, like how did Wemerson find success, right? What was their approach and anecdotal experience? But also when I speak with senior developers, hiring managers, recruiters, what are the things they're looking for from the other side? Next week is a belter. I'm speaking with Dave Mayer, who is an extremely experienced technical recruiter. He runs a boutique technical recruiting firm out of Colorado in America and has worked with some VPs of engineering at huge companies to help fill ambitious developer roles. And so while his experience might be on filling more ambitious senior level roles, there is so much amazing advice in this episode coming up that you can learn and apply as a new developer.
It's easy enough to find a Java developer. It's not easy to find a Java developer who genuinely cares about customer success, who genuinely cares about mentorship within the organization and growing if that's part of the internal values. And so sitting down with a client and understanding what their core values are, and then sitting down with engineers, regardless of their level and understanding what's important to them, and then trying to fit the puzzle pieces together and say, "There's a match here or there might be a match here, or there's probably not a match here."
That is next week on The Scrimba Podcast, so make sure to subscribe in your podcast app of choice as not to miss it. Back to the interview with Wemerson. It's also a great productivity hack, isn't it? Because if you're a self-taught developer, you have to be incredibly self-motivated. It's no secret that we, as people, as humans, if we make a obligation to somebody, we want to keep it, right? If we are entrusted with a project and we are on the same path to completing a product, I just feel like it's a super motivating thing and it just helps you become a better developer even quicker.
Yeah. I totally agree with you. Being on this company has been my first opportunity as well. It was already, something I was lucky. I need to give everything for myself. Even my personal projects from now are on a draw, so I'm not doing anything for me. Anything I try to learn and study every day is to apply something to make these projects better, learning about the problems. If I have a very big problem, when I get home, I always study about this problem to try to solve it, to crack it. So basically I'm doing everything, I'm putting all my efforts, all my energy to make this project good. It's totally different when you're doing just for you or [inaudible 00:15:42].
Yeah. Because when someone takes a chance on you, I feel like, I don't know if that's what happened here, but often it feels that way, right? As a new developer, you think, "Oh, someone's investing in me by taking the chance." That's such a powerful motivator to keep pushing and doing better. And I love that you have something to align by while you are learning because when you're self taught and self directed, there's thousands of topics to choose from, hundreds of technologies, tens of programming languages. It's very easy to learn a bit of this, a bit of that. But often, we give the advice at Scrimba, focus on projects because then you are aligning by a project. You have context around what you're learning. What you learn, you can apply to actually moving a project forward. You're not just indulging in learning and being a completionist just trying to take off one module, one course after another. I get why it feels good.
I get why it feels productive, but it really helps a lot when you have more context around what you're learning, because in the future, I guess in your case, Wemerson, you learn about something, you apply it to the project, in six, seven months, you're not just arbitrarily searching your brain for the information. You have a story. You're like, "Oh yeah. Well I had a similar problem when I was working on the product. I remember now I did this and I did that. And, oh, this was a problem." That context is so important. I think for developing your ability as a programmer.
Oh yeah, for sure. Even today, obviously as a beginner, we can't record everything that we have done. But when I face a problem, I say, "Look, I have done something similar two days ago, three weeks ago in some module. So I can just go back to that module, see what I have done and understand exactly what I have done and replicate that." Even if it's not my code, if it's for my colleague, the back end dev, he's on the US, I can go back to his code as well, see something similar and try to replicate and apply it for the problem that I am facing at the moment.
That's an excellent point. I hadn't even considered that, getting to be exposed to new things and even find help in some cases as well. You're convincing me more and more as this conversation goes by, there's so many great reasons to apply for jobs before you're ready, even if it's not... I'm talking to the person listening, if this is not what you perceive to be your dream job, it's okay to think about getting something where you can learn that almost becomes your entry point into the industry or even a spring where you can jump off into the next thing in the future. I'm curious to learn a bit more from you, Wemerson. What is the company exactly, and what are you building? Who are you building it with? How big is the team and what's the business model of the startup?
We are Excalibur. Our website is excal.tv, and basically the project is a media distribution to help content creator, as you for example, where you can create your podcast, upload on our webpage, it will create you a link, which is a smart contract link as well. And when you share this link to your audience, they can pay you. They can make donations for that link and you can receive these donations on your wallet, which is a Solana wallet. So basically it will take over the middle man. Your audience can make donations direct to you. And another thing is if you have someone else that helps you, which gets some percentage of your revenue, you can share that revenue at the moment, you are creating, doing the upload. So you say like, "Alex will receive 90% and this other guy will get 10%." So it is a smart contract and it is immutable, so you can't change it anymore.
The moment you create and you start to share that link, it's immutable. So the wallet that you added during the creation will always receive 90% for your wallet and 10% for the other person. So the main project is this. And also we have a wallet for cryptocurrency mainly on Solana. And this wallet, instead the secret phrase, as 12 or 24 words that you can always forget or lose it, it is actually use a picture. So you use a picture, it can be a picture on your gallery, you are taking a picture from your phone exactly at the moment that you are creating the wallet and that image will be your secret phrase. So you can send to your friends, and they'll never know that's actually a secret phrase for a wallet. We are a startup. So it's basically me, my boss and Christian, which is the backend dev from the US.
So just three of us. At the moment, we just showed our MVP at Solana Hacker House, which is a fair where people go to show the project, company go as well to show what they do. So we just showed our MVP, complete, fully functional from end to end. So all the functions working. For now, we actually going to start to make some changes, making the website looking better, and make the functions change a little bit. So yeah, we are at that point. Right now, the money comes from my boss. He's the money guy basically. So we don't have any funds.
There's your financier, sure. Is it exciting working at a startup? Maybe you had some ideas about what it would be like based on news about startups and all the rest of it?
To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. So I was like, "Okay, what's going to happen." I used to hear people saying on Scrimba, "Oh, this is happening there. And it's being good. It's being bad. I'm having these experience and I'm not liking, or I'm joining a lot of these." And I was like, "Okay, how's it actually going to be?" And to be honest, I was in a process to get a job. I don't know if you might know a company called, I think, it's Hammersmith here in the UK.
I know a place called Hammersmith, but I don't think I know a company.
It's a service desk as well for companies. I was about to be doing support for printers for all the Barclays [inaudible 00:21:38]. So basically, I just said, "I just got another job opportunity and I'm not going to get this just because it was a start." Because I talked to a friend from the US and she said, "Look, startups are amazing because you're going to learn a lot of different things. Your horizon is going to spread a lot. So you're going to see too many different things and it's going to be much better than going to a solid company." They will just say, "You're going to do X and Y and Z and that's it." But here we always learning and trying to do something new. We can come up with a new idea. We chat about it and if it's good, we try to apply it. It's been an amazing experience. I'm really, really grateful. And I will always be really grateful for this opportunity because it's just amazing. I'm loving it. Everything from job to the place that I work at, my boss, my colleague. So everything's so good, I still don't believe it.
Man, that makes me so happy to hear. Congrats again. I love startups personally. Scrimba is technically a startup. I mean the definition of a startup varies. It could be a company of a prototype, it could be a company with a little bit of funding, but no real customers yet, just proving a concept. A startup can be a company that's losing money. In some cases, people in the past referred to Uber a unicorn company as a startup, because what makes it a startup is not the size of the company, but it's actually to do with their focus on growth, like how quickly are a growing. So the point is, startup has a spectrum and it sounds like you are on the more prototype end, scrimba is somewhere in the middle, and then Uber and stuff is a different category completely and actually quite a risky place to be sometimes.
But I feel like based on your past, you said in the last 10 years, you hopped around jobs a little bit. You maybe wanted a bit more autonomy in the work that you're doing and maybe you don't want to exactly just be given tasks. Maybe what suits your personality is a startup, right? Where you get to touch a lot of different parts of the company. You get to be a big cog in a small machine and really make an impact, right? Because there are so many decisions to make every day, everybody plays a part in that, right? So you almost get autonomy. Of course, you will collaborate. And if your boss says, "Hey, I want this feature. You'll work with them on it." But equally you get a lot of freedom to choose the way you go about it and the specific way it's going to look.
Oh yeah, I totally agree with that because basically, if my boss just asks me something to do, I obviously will just make my research and see if I can do that for him. But it's not like he's strict, so we have a freedom to do whatever you want to do that may look good. He's not like, "Okay, this is my idea. And I want this, this and that done." So he always open to good ideas to understand something new and to apply that. So it's been really good because I always had this experience with this company saying that you need to do it, and in the end you need just to give a result in the end of the month and get your salary. It didn't have purpose at all. When I had this chat with my boss was like, "Okay, it's not about money. Obviously, now I know that this area pays real good money, but it's not what drives. You can't go just for the money." And I felt the purpose on the project because as a blockchain user, I felt the problems about the wallet and I know how content creators suffer about the middleman when they try to monetize their content. And I was like, "Look, this idea is actually something that will solve a real problem. And that made me feel much more excited about the job."
How did you get noticed by the recruiter? Did I understand you right? You were maybe looking for a job, you had an opportunity to do a job and you were considering that, but during this time, a recruiter came to you and spoke about this opportunity in the blockchain space?
Yes. That's exactly what happened. I tried to make a business with my wife for social media and I gave up with that because needed some exposition and I'm not a guy that needs to be exposed. So I said, "Look, now that you're doing your job, you can handle the company by yourself. It's all yours. If you are okay with that, I'm just going to quit and go back to my place, which is the IT." It was a mutual decision. And I said, "Okay, let's get back to the IT." And then when I started to study straight away, I was studying and applying for jobs, because I was seeing, oh, junior developer [inaudible 00:26:09]. Okay. Let's apply it. I didn't even have all the experience. I was just applying. And I think I have applied for about, I don't know, 40, 50 jobs, but never had any answer.
What kind of jobs were they?
Just front end juniors. Yeah. Always applied for front end juniors, but no reason. Never had any chart. Not even to understand what they were asking to learn about that and see what I could improve. Nothing, no answer at all. And simply from nowhere, this guy just called me saying that he found my CV online, that I was a match for this opportunity. We had this quick chat, about 15 minutes on the phone. Then straight away, went to my boss and we booked a interviewing person when I went to his house to do the first page for him. And yeah.
Did you say it was on a Saturday as well?
What was going through your head then? Because it's not typical, right? Most of the time, it's a weekday, you go to an office, that kind of thing.
Yes. At the beginning I was like, "What? Going to your house? You know what, never mind. I'm not in Brazil." If it was in Brazil, I was like, "Nah." I would say no. Sorry Brazil, but I would say no if I was in Brazil and I had this kind of approach. But being here, I was like, "You know what? I have nothing to lose. I'm just going to go there and see how it goes." And it went much better than I thought. You can't be always too afraid of things. Sometimes even from strange things, you can get something good. Even if it's something strange, you need to try because things happen, it can happen something good. So if I was afraid, I would say, "No, I'm not going." [inaudible 00:27:43] like, "Okay, you know what? You won't match with this opportunity so I'll try to find something else." And well, I said yes and was good. Turns out I'm here. I have my first opportunity and it's doing really well. So yeah, just try it.
I mean, fair play. If it works for you, it works for you. And I know that the really exciting thing about the Scrimba Podcast is that you just get to hear different people's stories and things you may never have considered, such as working at a startup, you might be more susceptible to after hearing about your success, Wemerson. It's been an absolute pleasure to learn all about your story and how you learned to code and changed countries, changed industries, work at a startup. Super excited to see what you do next. What's the plan for the future then?
My plan is to make this project as good as possible. I don't have any plans about going to different jobs or different companies at all. Now that I have the experience on my CV, every single day I'm receiving different opportunities saying that the payment, the salary will be sometimes two, three times better than what I'm receiving today. But I was like, "You know what? I'm not here for the money. I'm here for a purpose, which I found." And money will be something that eventually will come. If I put my effort in the company and the project succeeds, I'll get my money. So it's something on the future. So I'm not only being a employee, so I'm also investing in the company because I'm investing my time and learning from it, being paid for it. And for sure, it will succeed in the future.
Those are some brilliant words to end on. Wemerson, thank you so much for joining me on The Scrimba Podcast.
Thank you, Alex. Thanks for the opportunity. It's a pleasure to be part and I hope this [inaudible 00:29:23] and motivates someone that's not being too confident in applying for jobs. So keep going, guys.
That was Wemerson Queiroz, a Scrimba student and recently hired new developer. Let's go, Wemerson. Thank you as well for listening. If you have made it this far, you might be the perfect person to subscribe to the podcast in your favorite app, Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Breaker, Pocket Casts. What's the other one? I don't know, wherever. Just search for Scrimba Podcast and make sure you subscribe, because every week you will hear uplifting episodes with recently hired juniors like Wemerson and industry experts like Dave Mayer with whom I am talking next week. You're also welcome to tweet at me, your host. I'm Alex Booker, and share what lessons you learned from the episode so I can thank you personally for tuning in with a retweet or a response or something like that. You can find my Twitter handle in the show notes. A big thank you as well to our producer. This episode of The Scrimba Podcast was produced by Ian [inaudible 00:30:22]. I will see you next week.