My Journey from Frontend to FullStack: What to expect?

Sagar | The Tech Arch 🚀
4 min readMay 13, 2023

Hey there, coding commanders!

Imagine this — you’re not just crafting sleek interfaces anymore, you’re orchestrating a symphony of code, both in the front and the back of the house. Sounds thrilling? Welcome to the fascinating world of FullStack Engineering!

How it all started?

Rewind to 2014, I was a frontend engineer, rocking HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, Angular 1.x and whatnot. Then came 2019 and a pandemic. More time at home meant more time to tinker. I started dabbling with NodeJS, creating APIs from scratch. From static servers to dynamic data — what a rush!

You know that mind-boggled feeling when you first wondered how behemoth platforms like Facebook handle crazy amounts of traffic without crashing and burning? Yeah, that was me. Suddenly, I was tumbling down the rabbit hole of Load Balancing, Kubernetes, Distributed Databases, Elastic Search, Caching, Queueing, Microservices Architecture, and more. It was like trying to drink from a fire hose — just too much stuff all at once.

And just when I thought I was getting the hang of building systems, I realized I was barely skimming the surface. There was a whole ocean of knowledge still waiting to be explored. Talk about a reality check!

The Turning Point

Alright, so, here’s the scoop. I was itching to break out of my comfort zone, to ditch the static server json-server and whip up my own API using Node, Express, and MongoDB. You know, something that felt more…real.

Then, things got a wild twist when I stumbled upon Heroku. Imagine the rush of deploying my API servers on the world wide web! But even with these wins, I knew I was just getting started. There was a whole universe of backend engineering that was left to conquer.

The final nudge came from Alex Xu’s “System Design Interview” book. Man, the thought of building large-scale systems was like a call I couldn’t ignore. So, I decided, why not go the whole nine yards? And just like that, my FullStack Engineering journey kicked off!

The Pain

Oh boy, where do I start? You know that feeling when you’re all pumped up to use your fresh, shiny skills and build something? That was me, armed with my newfound API Development knowledge, ready to take on the world.

I had this brilliant idea — a portfolio management system, where folks like you and me could update our website content without messing with the UI code. I was so stoked, I thought I’d release it for everyone (though, let’s be real, nobody wanted it because better solutions already existed).

That’s when reality hit me like a truck. Backend isn’t just about crafting simple APIs like those in YouTube tutorials. Nah, it’s a whole other beast. It’s like planning a five-course dinner for a hundred guests, but you’ve only ever cooked instant noodles.

I mean, I was suddenly grappling with things like Authentication, Authorization, Role-Based Access Control, Database Schemas, Load Balancing, Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment, Docker, Nginx… the list went on and on, like a never-ending nightmare.

I felt like I was stuck in a spiraling vortex, just spinning around and sinking deeper and deeper. The worst part? I found myself in the dreaded tutorial purgatory, where I was just hopping from one tutorial to another without making real progress. Trust me, it was a rough few months!

The Solution

Light bulb moment: I needed a mentor, someone to guide me through a project. With the internet overflowing with info, the real challenge was sifting through it all to find the gold.

So, I set out on a mentor hunt. Lucky for me, a colleague at GE Aviation was game to lend a hand. He decided to help with my portfolio management project, offering me a step-by-step learning guide to build it.

The best part? He helped me tune out the internet noise and gave me a solid framework for building a backend system. I rolled up my sleeves and built the portfolio manager myself. Slowly but surely, my foundation started to take shape. I got my hands on some books that really helped me level up my Software Engineer game.

The Outcome

And then, things started to look up. By the end of November 2020, I’d made a big leap and joined Lowe’s, a major US retail brand. I was part of the team that built their Loyalty Program — which turned out to be a big hit, contributing to a 10% yearly increase in revenue.

Fast forward to today, 2023, and I’m now a Staff Software Engineer at McKinsey and Company, crafting systems for some pretty big-name clients. The cherry on top? My salary has tripled since 2020 — all because I learned how to tune out the internet noise and focus on what really matters.

But believe me, it wasn’t a walk in the park. It took buckets of sweat, heaps of hard work, and a whole lot of patience to get here.

A message for you

If you are a frontend developer dreaming of the FullStack realm? You’re in the right place. Join me on Twitter as I share my experiences, resources, tips, and even some hilarious coding tales.

We’ll navigate the FullStack landscape together, learning, growing, and coding our way to FullStack prowess. Stay tuned, and let’s kickstart this coding adventure together.

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Sagar | The Tech Arch 🚀

Staff Software Engineer at Mckinsey. 10 years in tech. Currently helping software engineers grow in career