On Monday, 29th July 2019, I had the opportunity to held up an AMA session with Jason Ganub. I say it’s an AMA session, but actually it’s more of a ‘hang out at work’ session since we spent roughly an hour and a half chitchatting in Kopi Kenangan down at the ground floor of our Pasaraya office.
I could’ve picked anyone from the hundreds of engineers working in Pasaraya as the engineer to held the session with. The reason why I chose Jason as the engineer is mainly because of my selfish reasons.
The first reason is because I’m intrigued by Jason’s background. A Tibetan-American and Business and Information System graduate, working in Indonesia as an engineer in GOJEK. An American that works in Indonesia is reason enough for me to be interested in his motivations, let alone a graduate from Business and Information System that managed to work in the largest tech company in my country.
The second reason is simple. I want to study my english with a native speaker.
In this article I’m going to show you the takeaways of the interview. Who knows, maybe after reading this you are inspired by Jason’s story and be interested to work in GOJEK too!
As I’ve mentioned before, my main reason for choosing Jason was because of his interesting background.
The first question that I asked him was to iterate the timeline from his graduation until now working in GOJEK.
Jason told me that before majoring in Information System, he actually majored in CS for his first term. At that point, though, he wasn’t sure of what he really wanted to do yet and in the end got probation warning because of his low grades. He decided to backed out from CS and applied to business school on the next term. At first he took both Finance and Information System, but decided to also drop Finance in the end.
Although he dropped out of CS program, he decided that programming is what he wants to do. So Jason starts to learn programming on his own during his off hours. He learned from online courses, He sneaked into some CS classes, he even worked on some projects for the Business Department regarding their website. By the end of the year, he managed to get an internship in Intel. He told me that because he majored in Business, it actually helped him in selling himself better during the interview. What he lacks in technical knowledge, he makes up for in his ability to communicate and appeal to the recruiter.
Companies don’t look for the best programmer. They look for someone that they can work together with.
After his graduation, he also worked for Daimler for a little while until he got offered to be a full-time engineer at Intel.
At that point, I had a very comfortable life. I even bought a house.
His team got cancelled on 2017. Jason took this ‘opportunity’ to be more adventurous and challenge himself by moving to the other side of the world. He visited Indonesia and went to GOJEK’s office at Pasaraya. A small chat at the office turned into an unofficial job interview. An unofficial job interview turned into an official one and Jason got offered to be an engineer in GOJEK. At the same time, he also got some offers from a company in California.
California is just south of Oregon. It still feels like home. … I decided to take GOJEK’s offer … I was looking for that ‘uncertainty’ in my life.
So there he was, deciding that he would travel across the globe to take a chance in a start-up company in Indonesia. I also asked him why pick Indonesia specifically. As someone who’s interested to live abroad after graduation, I’m interested behind his reasoning of choosing Indonesia. Initially I thought that there was some convoluted reasoning behind his choice of country, but his reply was:
No, there’s no hard rule for which country you should choose. You just need to get out of your comfort zone. Put yourself in a place where no one else but you can help you.
Learning Computer Science
As someone who majors in Computer Science, I was amazed by his ability to learn programming while also majoring in a completely different field of study.
He told me that he started getting back to CS because he was interested in front-end web development. Prior knowledge he learned from high school about graphic design also helped him learn front-end development.
Front-end was a bit boring … that’s when i start learning rails and back-end development.
When I study CS in college, we have predefined syllabus and mandatory courses to take. This is similar to the bottom-up approach where we learn all the fundamentals like Object Oriented Programming and Geometric Algebra before going into more specific fields like Web Development and Machine Learning. Jason, on the other hand, had to learn in a top-down approach. He started by learning front-end and back-end web development. But as time goes by, he started noticing that there was knowledge gaps that his peers have but he doesn’t. That’s when he goes back to learn the fundamentals he missed.
Whatever your stance might be considering the best method of learning is, Jason proved to us that you don’t need to major in Computer Science to be a (good) programmer. He even told me that being a business school graduate actually helps him understand the business side of the company. I then asked if he would recommend other people to major in Business and learn programming on the side. If it worked for him, maybe it could work for other people too, I thought. Alas, Jason disagreed with me.
It only proves that what you study in doesn’t dictate what you’ll do in the future. You don’t have to do what I do. Learning something else after class is a good option for any major. … I don’t really want other people to follow my steps. I want people to make their own path. Don’t follow other people to point and blame them later on.
Working in GOJEK
Jason’s official title at GOJEK is Product Engineer. He works in the Transport department, in the Pickup Experience Stream as a back-end engineer. He hasn’t always been a product engineer though, because he told me that during the first month or so, he actually didn’t have a team. He got thrown here and there, and finally got placed in Transport until now.
He told me that the biggest difference between GOJEK and other companies that he’d worked with in the past is that in GOJEK, no one limits him from growing and doing something more than just coding. Other companies might strip their employees’ freedom and sense of self. Here in GOJEK, Jason’s able to do everything that he wanted freely, GOJEK even supports their employee to grow and be the best versions of themselves.
He also feels that working in GOJEK really brings the sense of ownership like no other company. He realizes that here in GOJEK, every piece of code that we write affects millions of lives. Nothing is more impactful than seeing your code being used by everyone around you on the daily.
… works harder, because it’s worth it.
Jason told me that he once went to the GOJEK driver care centre and found a long line of drivers. There was a driver that encountered a bug that prevented him to take an order for the past six months. Jason and his team actually sit down right there and then to try to solve the issue. It turned out to be a minor bug that was fixed in only 15 minutes.
Something that was fixed only in 15 minutes, but it cost him six months of his live. GOJEK was his source of income. He told me that he had to get another job to substitute the money he previously made from working with GOJEK.
Projects in GOJEK
After working for a year and a half at GOJEK, I was curious to know what awesome projects he had worked on. One that comes to mind, he stated, is the driver detail. You might’ve noticed this also, there’s a text telling you how many trips the driver has made in the past week next to the driver’s rating every time you order a go-ride or go-car.
He really like this feature because it helps us, the customer, to emphatize with the driver. It also help us to get a better understanding of the drivers’ work ethic. Seeing a driver that has finished 150 trips in the past week might make us want to wait just a minute later than we would’ve otherwise. He told me that he is working to improve this feature and in the future, so that more details about the driver will be shown to us.
I also asked him to tell me what project that he wished he could’ve been a part of. He told me that it was the GO-FOOD initial ordering system. As of right now, the order of foods goes through the driver. The driver then needs to queue up the register, put in the order, then pay with their money. Jason told me that the system he wanted for GO-FOOD was so that the order actually goes directly to the restaurants. Therefore the driver’s job is only to pick up the food and deliver it. This way, no driver should have to wait in line and order before getting their food. Most importantly, the driver doesn’t need to pay the food with their own money.
Advice for Interns
Last but not least, of course, I asked him to give me some advice on how to become a better software engineer. As an intern, professional working environment is still quite alien to me. This being my first internship program also doesn’t help. Jason gave me four pointer that we, the newbies, need to look out for:
- Treat yourself the way you wanted to be treated. That means “higher” than your position now. You’re not “lucky”, you deserve it!
- Keep hustling. Most people, once they get a job, their repo commit numbers plummeted. Don’t forget to work on your own stuff!
- Balance work and life. Don’t get stressed out because of work!
- Hang out with people that are like minded.
That concludes my interview with Jason. It was a blast and I learn more than what I had originally thought I would. Hopefully this article inspires you in a way. Pursue your goal, whatever that may be. Be a rebel. Be different. If it’s what you want to do, then do it!
If you have an idea that you genuinely think is good, don’t let some idiot talk you out of it. — Stan Lee