GARAGESCRIPT sounds new to us in Indonesia. I, too, was unfamiliar with this startup until I came to their course at Mozilla Community Space in Jakarta, sat down and talked to two of young men from the startup to get to know more. It is simply put a nonprofit startup from San Jose, California, which opens free courses to anyone wanting to learn coding. There is no requirement that one should be a computer science graduate or master some basic knowledge. Even if you have no idea what coding really is but as long as you have the motivation to learn, you are welcome in the course because it starts from the most fundamental materials.
The startup began operating in 2 years ago. “It all started from our founder, Song Zheng, who wanted to teach his girlfriend (now his wife) Yoojin how to code,” Alvin told me in one brief interview along with his colleague, Jeffry. Song realized he could do more than just helping his beloved person. He could help more people out there to learn coding skills. The high unemployment rate in the US where he lives also partially motivated him to found GarageScript. Alvin mentioned that Song only wants to see more people smile after they can bring happiness to people they love at home by getting better-paid jobs.
Jakarta was in fact not in their plan. They planned to build networks in Malaysia. But a twist of fate led them to Indonesia. “There seemed to be a bureaucracy problem. A friend offered us to start here and then we shifted our focus on Jakarta,” Alvin said. Now they also have organically grown a community in Lippo Karawaci, Tangerang, where they hold regular daily meetups.
In GarageScript, students are free to learn at their own pace without having to be under pressure. Some people are fast learners but the rest are slower. For super fast learners, GarageScript provides a 3-month bootcamp which is set to be a key milestone as a new engineer. As the bootcamp ends, it means they are expected to keep learning and honing and updating their skills as the progress of technology is so rapid these days.
As the tech world needs more and more engineers, GarageScript seems to be willing to help people who need more lucrative jobs to try shifting to the tech job market. And being a software engineer is one of the prerequisites to earn more.
Instead of only about getting more and more from the free course, these students who have mastered the materials, they are encouraged to teach what they have learned to other people.
Though GarageScript is a startup, it grew initially as a community. You can see its community spirit implanted in their culture when Jeffrey told me that in the meetups, every member is asked to take turns to lead the meetup every week. And this proves their attitude towards their work. It is more about growing together, instead of competing against each other.
“We plan to open regular courses at Mozilla Indonesia Community Space on working days. We started with projects which can be achieved by our students and once they are competent enough, they can be asked to contribute to next projects,” Alvin added.
No lesson taught here goes wasted as they learn by doing (read: building projects). Results of their hard work will be used to help others learn the same way.
“Now our goal is to build a sustainable community in Jakarta so our efforts will continue here. And once they are skillful enough, they can teach others,” Jeffry quipped.
As they can’t stay forever here, they want to make sure the seed of community is planted in the proper nursery room. And he seems to have found an apt place. (*/)