How an open source project landed me a job abroad

How creating open source projects and participating in hackathons helped me land a job abroad

Written in September 23, 2020 - 🕒 4 min. read

As a software developer, it’s common to move around the globe in search of better job opportunities or for the experience of being a digital nomad.

Me nomading
Rare picture of me being digital nomad before it was cool (not really)

Motivation to work abroad

As a child, I was always fascinated by shows like Indiana Jones and Mighty Max that explored the wonders of the world. This sparked my sense of wanderlust and desire to discover new places and cultures.

As I grew older, I realized that the world was vast and full of opportunities, and I didn’t want to be confined to just one little town in Brazil. So, I made the decision to pursue my dream of living and working abroad. In this post, I will share my journey and how an open source project played a role in landing me a job abroad.

Open Source projects and hackathons

In 2016, I started working on personal projects and publishing them on GitHub. Some examples include the Magento Chatbot extension for Magento and the Contract Builder, which I built using VueJs to help a lawyer friend create new legal contracts more efficiently.

I also participated in hackathons to improve my skills, practice my English, and meet other professionals in the industry. This is how I found out about VanHackathon, a hackathon organized by VanHack. My friends and I decided to participate and created a chatbot integration for Shopify (we even made a promotional video for it). As a result, we won a VanHack Premium account, which provided us with various perks and access to an exclusive Slack group.

Resume Builder

Fast-forward to 2018, and I received a job offer to move to São Paulo. As I really enjoyed working for my current employer at the time, I declined the offer and decided to apply for other job openings to test my interviewing skills. However, I found it tedious to constantly tailor my resume for each job listing I applied to, so I created a tool to help me streamline the process: Resume Builder. You can check out the source code here (don’t forget to star it).

Resume Builder

After a few iterations, I was satisfied with the results and decided to add the option to use custom templates (which is unfortunately not available yet in v2). I shared the tool on the VanHack Slack group, thinking it might be useful for others but didn’t think too much about it later.

Job offer

A few days later, a recruiter contacted me, praising the Resume Builder project and asking if I knew React. I told her that the tool was built with React (my first ever React app) and that I had no problem learning new things.

She was impressed and scheduled interviews with some companies in the Netherlands for me.

All of that because in the middle of thousands of developers trying to land a job abroad, I was able to stand out thanks to an open-source project that honestly wasn’t even using React’s best practices or anything like that, but it was useful and showed recruiters that I was good at solving problems, I had no problems in learning new things and that I cared about having a good resume.

Back to the interviews, one of the companies sent me a React challenge to build a Q&A Single Page Application. Since I was already coding with React for a couple of weeks, I was able to finish the challenge without any trouble. That got me an interview with the Tech Lead in that company and after that with the CTO, things were looking good.

So one day I was participating in a hackathon when I received an email with a job offer to move to Amsterdam. I wasn’t really planning on leaving my employer at that moment, I just got a raise, and I was in a nice project, but I knew an opportunity like that don’t knock on your door every day, so I said yes, and the rest is history 🇳🇱.


Amsterdam canal
Amsterdam canal

When I look back on how I landed this job in Amsterdam, it all comes down to a simple open-source project with a mediocre idea, but it was something more than just having a resume with my name and a list of activities and skills that are really hard to stand out when all other resumes are doing the same thing.

If you really want to work abroad, you need to put yourself out there, not necessarily only by making an open-source project, but by expanding your portfolio in a way that is meaningful to you. You could write Medium articles, make YouTube videos, a personal website (like this one), and so on. Don't give up. Getting a new job is a numbers game™, and it takes time, so why not use this time to also improve some of your skills?

That’s all I have for you today, I hope my story inspires you to get your dream job.


Post a comment


Gaurav on 9/30/20

Inspirational ! Thanks.

Manoj Bohara on 9/25/20

Practical and very inspiring suggestion on how to do it - thanks Pablo , wish you good luck and all the best.