The Wanderer's Journal of an Informatics Student in Telkom University

In March 2021, after finishing my revision from the undergraduate thesis defense, I unofficially graduated. Then, on August 28th, I officially graduated and obtained my bachelor's degree. I was even one of the outstanding graduates in the graduation ceremony. To be exact, I was an outstanding graduate from the Informatics faculty. It was unexpected honestly. I never aimed to be one. All I did was "have fun" while carving for more knowledge. After all, I just love programming. That's all. Anyway, this is my journey from when I'm an Informatics student at Telkom University. I will tell you some stories when I'm wandering in this world as a broke college student.


Picture 1. That one time when I'm recording a video for my graduation ceremony.


Let's pretend that you are reading some novel or something. Here is the synopsis of my journey. This is actually just some background so you may have context. Okay, let's go!

Wisnu, a firstborn from a middle-low class family. He loves programming since he was 10 years old. However, his parents don't understand his love for it. Whenever he learns to build an app, his parents always thought that he is playing video games. He used to have an argument with his father since his father thought that he won't be able to get a good job by simply learning how to program. After several years, he was finally able to prove his worth by getting a top 7 position in a Regency level computer olympiad and also able to get his first part-time job as a software engineer when he is in his third year of senior high school. Now, he is about to enter the college life of an Informatics student. This is when he strives for more. Where will his adventurous life take him?

Pretty good, isn't it? I might have a talent for storytelling. Just kidding!

A Journey of a Freshman, A Fresh Start

The feeling when I'm attending my first class... was exciting. I really got excited back then. I mean, I was finally able to pursue a bachelor's degree that is chosen by myself. I already studied almost all of the first semester courses even before setting foot on this campus. It was so I can get good grades without giving much effort. It was really effective!

In the class, I'm not an active student. That's because I don't really like to become the center of attention. I usually answer the lecturer's question if they ask me to answer. Otherwise, I will just hope that anyone else would answer it. Well, sometimes, I did answer since I feel bad for the lecturer if no one answers the question. I will always sit in the back when it is a study session. If it is a test session, I will sit in the front. Weird, isn't it?


Picture 2. A low-quality photo of mine in my freshman year.

The main reason why I choose this campus is that because they have Proclub. To put it simply, Proclub is a student community here in Telkom University that is quite active in ICT-related competitions. I actually met with Proclub members when I'm a senior high school student. Back then, I was participating in a hackathon called Hackathon Merdeka. One of the winners is a team from Proclub Telkom University. Since I'm now part of this campus, I look forward to their recruitment!

Fast-forward to their recruitment, I found two interesting competitions. First, a competitive programming competition for the internal campus namely Campus Programming Competition 2016 by IEEE branch Telkom University. Second, a National level open-source contribution competition namely Besut Kode by Wikimedia Indonesia. I decided to participate in these competitions while also doing the recruitment tasks from Proclub. In the competitive programming competition, I'm able to advance to the final round. Well, in my freshman year, I ended only as a finalist which is not bad at all. I mean, it was actually a team competition but I do it solo. Then, for the Besut Kode competition, I actually ended up in the top 5. What's interesting is that my senior in Proclub is also one of the top 5. I have bonded with a senior in Proclub even before officially joining their community through this competition. See? Proclub really meets my expectation.

It took me months before I was officially accepted as a Proclub member. The recruitment process is no joke. In the recruitment process alone, I was able to learn many things in software development. There are also some people who love to join a competitive programming competition. Long story short, my senior, Dede Kiswanto, created a team for me. The members are Ki Ageng Satria Pamungkas, Setyo Nugroho, and myself. We decided to use AnakRantauMenderita as our team name. In our first competition as a team, we don't even advance to the final. However, in the second competition, ACM-ICPC Multi-Provincial IdeaFuse 2017, we advanced to the final round. That was our first final round! I want to post a photo but sadly we don't really like to take a photo so we don't really have many photos of ourselves.

There are no befitting words other than "chaos" for our first final round. We are having it hard back then. I mean, financially, we don't have much money. Mentally, well, we just like "whatever, let's go lah". We ask for fund support from campus and also lend some money from our seniors. I have my part-time job back then so I have some money in my wallet for emergencies. It actually funny. We are late for a flight to Medan. That was because we got trapped in a traffic jam on the highway. Apparently, there is a traffic accident happening there. Well, that cost us almost one million IDR each for buying a new flight ticket though. Great, isn't it?

In the final, we can't do anything and were able to solve only one problem. Man, competitive programming is really hard if we don't really have the commitment to practice seriously. That was fine though since it was our very first final round as a team. We don't even have a coach. We really learn it all by ourselves! It was fun so I don't really have any complaints. After this competition, I get to know about Google Summer of Code (GSoC) from John Vandenberg. I met him from Besut Kode and he is the mentor! Then, I began to prepare for GSoC in my late freshman year. GSoC is like an internship or some sort. We will have to do some work for an open-source organizer. The good part is we get a stipend and a mentorship as well! This event, just like the name, is running in the summertime when we have no classes. Sadly, I didn't pass the selection process because the organization I choose didn't have a mentor for my proposed project. So yeah, let's just wait for the next year!

In my freshman year, I'm able to do so many things and I'm happy with it. I was finally part of the Proclub Telkom University. In 2017, I forgot when exactly, I'm also part of the Computing Laboratory. I was able to participate in several competitions. I was also able to achieve a 3.75 out of 4.0 GP (both first and second semester, I got 3.75) without giving too much effort. Ah, I almost forgot, I also became a co-organizer of Lambda Indonesia (formerly Lambda Jakarta), a functional programmer community in which HQ is in Jakarta. I did my best to manage myself, especially in time management. I even took a part-time job as a software engineer. Well, because I need money! Did you forget that I'm from a middle-low class family? I don't recommend you take a part-time job while pursuing a bachelor's degree. Unless you are really in need of money just like me.


Picture 3. Besut Kode finalists.

A Sophomore Who is Looking for More

In my sophomore year, I continue to participate in competitive programming competitions. We, AnakRantauMenderita, at least participated in three competitions. The first one is UII ICSW 2017 and we ended in the top 4. I'm not sure whether UII ICSW is National level or Province level. The second one is Campus Programming Competition 2017 by IEEE branch Telkom University. Do you remember my story about this competition before? We ended up in the top 3. This is internal competition. Meaning that the participants are students at Telkom University. The last one is The 2017 ACM-ICPC Asia Jakarta Regional Contest. We got an Honorable Mention after solving only one problem there. That was our first experience competing at an international level. It was really fun!


Picture 4. When we are trying to solve the problems.

Other than participating in a competition, I also began to try to contribute to an open-source project on GitHub. I tried to contribute to at least three organizations. They are TLDR Pages, xmonad, and coala. I contributed the most to coala and finally have the opportunity to become one of the mentors for the Google Code-in competition. I was a mentor for a JavaScript project. The main role of a mentor is to guide the student to finish their tasks. We also need to give a review for their submission. It was a really unique experience for me. Oh if you are wondering, Google Code-in is an open-source competition whereas the student needs to complete tasks and gain some "points". Each organization will have its own winner. The winner will be given an opportunity to visit Google HQ. There are more but I don't remember anything other than that. Unfortunately, Google Code-in is no more.

If you remember, I tried to get into GSoC last year. So, I try to get into it again this year. I'm lucky since John (a GSoC mentor in coala & Wikimedia) and my lecturer Hendy Irawan (former GSoC student) with the help of Ade Romadhony (a lecturer that will be my thesis supervisor later on) hosted a coaching event for GSoC preparation. I'm also helping them as an assistant coach. We try to introduce GSoC to the students. We also help them to choose an organization and we also give them some tips as to how to write a good project proposal. In the end, only two students that are got selected. That is my senior who is also in Besut Kode before, Yana. The last one is me. I got to work on a format-preserving YAML parser project from the Haskell organization. This is my biggest mistake. I still had a part-time job back then. I clearly try to bite more than I can chew. I did those two simultaneously. I'm able to do that actually. However, since I got a bad internet connection for the whole month, I can't do my job. So, I lose those two. I was really sad and I feel like a loser to the point that I secretly cried after a long time.

My sophomore year really is a rollercoaster for me. For the first time, I feel like a loser. Although I'm able to do so many things. I am still able to maintain my grade points. I forgot the exact number though. What's important is that it is still greater than 3.5 which is good. I wonder what will happen in my junior year. It can't be any worst, right?

The Downfall of the Junior (Not Really)

Just like usual, let's start with how many competitions I participated in. We, AnakRantauMenderita, participated in three competitions. The first one is CompTech 2018 Programming Contest. This is a national-level competition. We advanced to the final round. Unfortunately, we can't go since we have something else to do. The second one is The ACM-ICPC (Provincial) Indonesia Maranatha 2018. This is also a national-level competition. We advanced to the final round. I forgot how many problems we solved there but it is definitely more than one problem. We are pretty satisfied even if we are just a finalist. Then, the last one is Campus Programming Competition 2018. The internal-level competition. In the last year, we are top 3. This year, we are the champion!

Other than competitions, I began to be an organizer in Proclub. I once again also become a mentor for Google Code-in 2018 in the coala organization. I was really broke back then. I don't have a job. I have enough already and going YOLO applying for a part-time position at two Indonesian unicorn companies, Bukalapak and Tokopedia. They don't have any job posts about part-time jobs but I applied anyway. I don't want to give many details since it will be quite a really long journey. Long story short, the results are... one internship offer from Tokopedia and one part-time job offer from Bukalapak. The choice is pretty much obvious. I choose the part-time job!

Now, my money problem has already been taken care of. There is another issue popping up. I met some *** here at Telkom University. They are my seniors who are working as a practicum assistant for a computer network course. I actually like anything related to computer science. However, I just can't for this one. Not because of my lecturer. But because of the one who decided to give CTF-related tasks as a prerequisite for doing take-home tasks in the computer network course. This is a computer network course, not a network security course! Just because you can, doesn't mean anyone else should be able to do it too! Like, what the?! Anyway, I got a C grade for this course and I don't really care. I was so annoyed to the point I want to drop out from this *** campus. I still hope that you guys are rotting in hell.

You know what? I used to "fight" a lot with them in the internal practicum forum. I'm not the only one who is annoyed with them. They just don't have the courage to voice it out. If reincarnation ever exists and you guys become my junior, I will give you one of the hardest competitive programming problems as the prerequisite of the basic algorithms course before you are able to do your take-home tasks. In that way, you guys won't be able to get a good score. Isn't that great?


Picture 5. The interns of the New Retail squad with their "supervisors".

My junior year really is annoying. I met some assholes, my grade point dropped (lower than 3.5), and I was quite stressed as well. The good thing is that I survived. I am also able to secure my internship in Tokopedia. Some good things did happen. Oh, I was also the president of Proclub this year. Managing a community is quite tiring. I'm grateful that I have great friends that helped me organize Proclub. Ah also, the sad part is that one of AnakRantauMenderita's original members is quitting. No problem though since we got a new member. She is Nuril Kaunaini Rofiatunnajah. I just remembered that I also tried to be a practicum assistant for a data structures course. I get yet another unique experience. To be honest, I was hoping that I will meet with some cocky ass juniors but sadly I didn't meet them.

The Rising Senior and the Pandemic

In my senior year, I at least participated in three competitive programming competitions. The first one is ICPC Multi-Provincial IdeaFuse 2019. This is a national-level competition. We advanced to the final round. However, we got something to take care of so we can't attend the final. The second one is Indonesia National Contest (INC). This is a national-level competition. About the top 30-ish will be able to advance to the international level. If you remember The 2017 ACM-ICPC Asia Jakarta Regional Contest, this INC is the last competition to get the ticket for ACM-ICPC Asia Jakarta Regional Contest. We actually advanced to the final. However, we have to attend GEMASTIK 12 Programming Contest since we are the sole team (from our campus) that is advanced to the final for the programming category. Since we are the host, we really need to attend this! Long story short, we ended in the top 6 position which is not bad since Telkom University's last final in the programming category for GEMASTIK is several years ago.

Other than competing in a competitive programming competition, in my senior year, I got the invitation from Tokopedia to attend their Intern Alumni Day. We are doing some fun there. They also have some mini-competition with a randomized team. What's funny is that actually, my team ended up as a winner. I was also selected to be one of the three Best Internship Presentation. Do you know how many interns were in Tokopedia for the summer back then? About hundreds of interns. I don't really know the detail but to be selected as one of the three out of hundreds is huge! I feel like I will be able to get a job from Tokopedia quite easily. Well, my supervisor in Tokopedia already asked me to work there plenty of times already. But, I'm still a student so he needs to wait!

Now, I have tried to be a practicum assistant before. The next one I want to try is to be a teaching assistant. I was lucky that my lecturer approaches me and ask me to be his teaching assistant for a logic programming course. I was not sure at first since I have a part-time job too. In the end, I accepted the offer. We (me and my lecturer) already had some plan to build an autograder for SWI-Prolog. And then, when I'm in the middle of building that, pandemic hits Indonesia. So, the student doesn't have really much choice other than to use the autograder. The detail of the journey is available on this site with the title of My First Attempt to Build an Online Autograder for SWI-Prolog. Became a teaching assistant actually quite fun. Definitely worth it (at least for me).

What's left right now is my undergraduate thesis. My mistake is that I'm too ambitious. Well, I believe that I'm able to do it under normal circumstances. However, since the pandemic hits, I began to have some issues and in the end, I lost my motivation to finish it. I even quit my part-time job just to finish it. However, it was all for nothing. Finally, I decided to make the scope smaller. My first topic is to build a CCG supertagger for Indonesian (Bahasa). Since it was too ambitious, I changed my topic into building annotation tools for CCG. The problem is, my motivation still left me out. Bit by bit my family began to be affected by the pandemic. Our monetary state might be in danger.

I was desperate. I started to look for a job even though I'm still not graduated yet. I try to apply to some companies. I get the offer but the pay really is meh so I don't take the offer. I asked my supervisor in Tokopedia whether they accepted somebody who is in the middle of their thesis. Finally, my senior from Proclub asked me whether I'm interested to work in the company he is working in right now. I said yes and of course, I will take the challenge. Long story short, I actually passed and get the offer. The pay is quite good so I take the offer. They are kind enough to accept me even though I'm still doing my thesis. What's surprising is that actually, my motivation is to work and then get paid. So, I began to work on my thesis once again. You know what? I actually able to finish my thesis, advance to the thesis defense, and then graduate. What the heck?! It was actually that easy. In the end, I was thankful that I'm able to achieve my target GPA which is 3.5 (I got 3.51).

Yeah, that was the short journey of my college life. I can make it longer but what's the point? Anyway, if you like to get an update on my journey, feel free to subscribe and become a member of this site. It is free and limited! See ya later on my next journey!