This is a special article in where I will tell you one of the greatest stories (probably) ever told on The NerdDroids. It starts with me, a retired IT Technician, soon to be a college student again, with all the experiences from 2008 to 2017 that I had in memory. I no longer have the IT Tech skills but this story will tell you all the shig I had to go through.
Especially, if you start working in abroad as one regardless of what country.
Where did I start?
Let me be clear that I started my career as a Home Service IT Technician, where people can’t bring their box of junk or their folder of junk to the shops (even if they’re nearby). Their reasons are that they’re being too busy and all that list of 99 problems (and a hoe ain’t one of them) they had with them. However, 2008 was my first year of college at STI Colleges. I barely had any allowance. Going to the Arcade Game Center was the only place to relieve stress and depression temporarily. I barely had friends (I’m not that close with my classmates anyways) at that time. And it’s hard to find a decent part-time job to get going for additional cash to live on things that I needed the most.
So, what I had with me at that time was a few things: A screwdriver set, a beat-up 160GB external hard drive, thermal paste, and a bag of discs containing pirated software (don’t hit me on this, Microsoft. This is the market in the Philippines. Piracy means nothing to these people as long as they pay cheap). I didn’t have any competitors at that time. And the way to get some rep was to start with someone who owned an internet cafe, hungry for games to install on one of their computers. Luckily, I had good games on that hard drive (and barely played on my PC because, AGP cards were not that damn powerful and not enough to carry on to play the games I needed. But it did photoshop well enough so that was good) and eventually, one of my grandmother’s friend came by. Asked me if he can have copies. I replied why not just buy them from me? Or ask me to install them for a fee? In the end, we end up into an agreement to install the games for merely PHP 350 (roughly around USD 3 or 5 around that time). It was cheap labor. I only installed it in one computer since he wanted to just copy the rest of the games over the network.
Later on, he referred one of his friends for computer repairs to me. Wanted me to reinstall the OS instead and add all those games, softwares, and whatever I can put in it for the same price. This has been going on from sometime in August or October of 2008 though until December came, my grandmother’s niece started to help invest into opening up a little internet cafe in my grandmother’s business. I helped look for good specs under a budgetable and upgradeable range. Everything worked out right in the end. What I need to do is start advertising something what I can do to have a little bit of something for myself.
Building the rep (reputation)
Building rep locally and almost somewhere kinda went somewhere else. So, I have to look for more potential customers. Apart from the computer repairs I have done, I started selling bootlegs of PS2 games (there were games I like to play but I don’t know what to play. And this was the only way to find out tbh) on this classified advertisements online. It’s a website called wahoy.com, where people can post what they want to sell. You can sell anything. Buy anything. Even the “shiggy stuff” (yeah. Like real shiggy and shady stuff that police tried to track down years ago). My adverts were solely focused on marketing what I can do at that time.
Of course, out of anything, you’d expect people to start asking silly questions like:
- Do you do reformatting?
- Do you install driver?
- Can you help me build my PC?
- Can you help me build an internet cafe?
- I need a software. Can you reinstall this software for me?
- My PC have a virus, can you remove it?
Etc… Etc… Etc…
The next annoying thing after saying yes or no to any of the questions they have or they follow up is that, they’ll ask for the price. Some wants to do it for PHP 150 (about USD 2.00) and some wants to chop it to 250 (about USD 2.50 or 3). However, they wanted it so cheap that they have the audacity to even call me to a point that they can even pick me up from where I am located to their very own home and office.
Take note, Zamboanga City is a dangerous place too. You’ll never know if you’re gonna get kidnapped or something.
Even if they offered that, I still declined.
There were even cases that at some point, they’d even ask to tone the price down once I am working on-site (at the customer’s home or office or internet cafe). I still explained that we had agreements. Some fight. Some don’t fight. Just for only for the sake of a price markdown on point. There were even times that some of my friends would ask me to give discounts, which I am not really keen on doing since it will also ruin my daily earning too especially I need cash to go to vocational college (I wouldn’t worry about the tuition. My mom pays for it.) and also do the other things such as buying myself a decent lunch (I ate bread and anything I can find at the local bakery to eat for roughly PHP 20 as well as squishing in just for fare to go home too). Yeah, I know this is sort of stressful but, what can I do?
When rep goes down, work goes down
Around the year 2010 sometime in June or July, I find out that my customer base has gone down due to competitors. There were competitors who are willing to battle with me over their price, which was PHP 200, and mine, which is the usual PHP 350. Of course, they’re getting more rep than me. I could not shed mine because I need money. At the same time, I encounter my own crisis. There were things that I should’ve thought of ahead of time. Such as the wearing of the tools. I gradually noticed my tools are now depreciating, rusting, and wearing out at the same time. The tools do not limit to screwdrivers and pliers as such. The computer’s DVD burner and testing tools used to test if a PC is healthy or not, has also worn out too. Granted, these tools were also expensive for me. Even my own soldering iron was completely worn out. I could hardly use it too. I wanted to buy new tools but money became too scarce for me. Even loaning tools from the internet cafe I service for, is also not the best way to do things. I even wanted my own drill kit so I can make customizations to a desktop PC that needs some “extra stuff” on to mount (like having more than two hard drives, extra fans, you name it).
Tools were not cheap. And the estimate on the tools I needed were a hefty PHP 7500+. And I could not even afford them. Even my external hard drive is slowly dying as I am starting to hear clicks. I have lost two trusty USB thumbdrives too, where all the temporary data and OS installation data is.
I was at a brink of losses. Apart from the losses, this is where I find out that…
My market is not here. They don’t see efforts. They want cheap shit.
I have returning customers of course, but they were not enough to suffice the biggest set of things I needed to keep this gig up.
This hit me hard big time. And with no money rolling in, I feel like I rather take my own life at this point.
The aftermath of this beginning
In April 2011, I left for Norway. Hoping to find something new. I left the old life behind. Brought with me what I can bring. But hey, since Norway’s coming up…
I will tell you more experiences I have encountered. Especially the silly stories you’d probably never experience as…
A Freelance IT Technician.
If you like this story, feel free to buy me a drink right here: https://ko-fi.com/N4N4EBJK
On the next episode, I’ll tell my story about the first set of jobs I did as a Freelance IT Technician.