From Side Project to Life-Changer: A Developer's Journey from Germany to the US

How a Side Project Changed a Developer’s Life: A Journey from Germany to the US


In 2014, a German developer named Pim wrote and launched a file sync and share application called Syncany as a side project. Although it never made it past the alpha stage, the project gained some traction and caught the attention of a developer from a company in Connecticut. This unexpected encounter would prove to be life-changing for Pim.

The developer from Connecticut reached out to Pim through Syncany’s IRC channel and offered him an interview. Intrigued by the opportunity, Pim decided to take the chance. Little did he know that this interview would lead him on a path to the United Kingdom, then to the United States, where he would spend the next 8 years with the company.

During his time with the company, Pim’s career soared. He was promoted from a senior engineer to Sr. Principal Engineer and enjoyed a fulfilling professional journey. Not only did he find success, but he also made a life for himself in the US. He obtained a green card and settled down in Connecticut with his wife and two children, who hold both German and American citizenship.

Looking back, Pim reflects on how his side project and the unexpected connection with a developer from Connecticut transformed his life. He often wonders how different his life would be had he not worked on Syncany, or if he hadn’t received that fateful message in the IRC channel. He describes it as the butterfly effect, where small actions can have significant consequences.

Interestingly, Pim shares a fun fact about his Syncany journey. The CEO of Dropbox, Drew Houston, had reached out to him expressing interest in hiring him. However, there was a miscommunication, and the correspondence stalled. Even when Pim later applied to work at Dropbox, he was not accepted. It goes to show that even missed opportunities can lead to unexpected and life-changing outcomes.

Pim’s story resonates with many in the software development community. It highlights the potential for personal and professional growth that can arise from side projects and chance encounters. It showcases the power of open source contributions, as Pim’s involvement in Syncany and an internship secured through it indirectly paved the way for his current role and other innovative open source projects.

This article also touches on the allure of the “Silicon Valley dream” that once captivated developers in Europe. However, as described by a French developer, the sentiment towards the US has shifted over time. The mismatch in cultural values, the emphasis on money, and the perceived lack of societal importance without wealth can lead to disillusionment.

Furthermore, the article delves into the reasons for migration to the US, emphasizing that it is not a one-size-fits-all desire. While some may seek “freedom” or job opportunities, others may prefer the familiarity and quality of life in their home country. The decision to move internationally is deeply personal, influenced by individual values and circumstances.

Overall, Pim’s story serves as a testament to the transformative power of side projects and unexpected connections. It reminds us that small endeavors can have far-reaching consequences, altering the trajectory of our lives. It also prompts reflection on the ever-changing perceptions of the US among Europeans, highlighting the importance of personal values and aspirations when considering international migration.

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