Get paid while you're learning, working at a startup

Posted on:

Edited on:

Life update

If you haven't read my previous article about the visas rejections, I'd recommend you to do so as I mentioned there that I switched my job and the reasons behind such decision.


⚠️ Please be aware that this doesn't apply or might not work for everyone, luck and other factors play a huge role in this to workout and I'm grateful for being very lucky that it did.

Students loan debt

We all know and aware of the student loan debt issue in the US, it exceeded $1.2 trillion in 2014 according to Wikipedia.

US student loan debt chart

Middle class families are the most impacted ones, as a result, most end up having financial issues even after the graduation of their kids, same applies in other countries but differently.

you could do your own research for the reasons and causes behind the issue

Avoiding student loan debt

I will share the approach I took but keep in mind that there are other better and bad approaches, I don't recommend any and I'm just sharing my experience. And keep in mind that I'm based in Morocco which offers the option of a low cost education and you're not forced to study at private schools.

What I basically did is working with international clients while I was studying in a public school after high school, what I could learn today, will apply it tomorrow in exchange of cash. But I had to learn most of the stuff at home as I mentioned in my previous articles.

I had to sleep at 4am most of the time.

I kept following that approach but in an exponential way when it comes to the technical side of the work I was doing, meaning that I've almost never done something repetitive and I try to learn to use something new when ever I get a task to work on.


I'm pretty sure most of you will be questioning these questions:

But how would you get those clients without any work to showcase?

  • I followed few tutorials, made an Intro using After Effects, posted it on YouTube, a videographer based in Canada left a comment which turned into a work I had to deliver.

From making the same intro into making 2 brand logos for him and that's how this started. TL;DR, worked on my personal projects, showcased them and that's how it launched.

Based on what do you know what to learn next?

  • I've been up to date on what's happening on the web community, I bet entirely on JavaScript and CSS, few factors contributed in that, which made me take that decision, here are a list of those factors:
    • A friend of mine
    • I started learning the front-end first
    • The rise of Node js that made JavaScript the first cross-platform language
    • It wasn't taught and fully neglected by our educational system, which meant more chances of landing a job in the future.

If you have more questions, you can add a comment below or DM me on Twitter

Why working at a startup?

This is a part 2 of this article

My second year of working remotely was so fun & hard as I had a part time job as a React Native developer, working a total of 12 hours a day.

I've been learning React Native on my spare time during the first year while working for Obytes, I had built and shipped few Android & iOS apps.

Notice the pattern? Build your own projects, showcase them with your skills and that eventually will contribute in landing a job.

As I was living in my parents basement, it was like getting funded by a Startup to learn and acquire new skills, I didn't care about the financial side at all but focused on learning and acquiring knowledge.

It was honestly like a seed investment with unlimited runway

When to exit?

As few startups exit (sellout) aka getting acquired by a large company, I did the same at the right moment as I've learned a lot compared to someone who has just graduated and joined a company.

I had to decline many offers during those 2 years, even if they were offering double and triple the salary I was getting, I never mentioned them to anybody including my family as they'd most likely influence me to accept them.

I had to support ageism and bullshit comportement of a board member working at the startup, until the time was right to exit and I resigned.

When not to exit?

If I got the stock options I was offered by one of the board members and if they were valuable, I wouldn't have quit especially if:

  • The startup was about to get acquired by a large corporation
  • The startup was highly profitable

Otherwise, those assets will be considered just like an annual bonus.

Avoid getting brainwashed at all costs.


I would have taken other approaches and done things differently to end up with better results but let's leave that to an upcoming article on which I'll try to send a letter to my past self.

© Copyright 2016-2024 , All Rights Reserved by Smakosh LLC