“My Hearing Loss Isn’t the Barrier to My Dreams”

A Story of Alwi Maulana, Bangkit 2021 Graduate from Computer Engineering, Institut Teknologi Telkom Purwokerto
“Over 5% of the world’s population–or 430 million people (including 34 million children)–require rehabilitation to address their hearing loss. It is estimated that by 2050, 1 in every 10 people will have disabling hearing loss.” - WHO (2024)
The data above shows that some people are born with single-sided deafness (SSD), and Alwi Maulana (24) is one of them. He knows he can’t change that, but instead of giving up, Alwi refuses to let his limitations lock his true potential. Fueled by a relentless spirit to become tech talent, he discovered Bangkit, a program that could open the doors to many possibilities.

However, Alwi found joining Bangkit challenging. The online lectures presented a barrier of information that left Alwi needing help to keep up. The frustration was immense, the fear of failure a constant companion. Yet, Alwi persevered, and finally, after 900 hours of relentless effort, he graduated from Bangkit.

Now, he’s no longer just a young man with an SSD but a high-caliber digital talent with more than two years of experience at BNI and IFG Life. Working hard to make his dream come true, this is Alwi’s journey in Bangkit!

When Alwi Discovered the Truth about His Condition

Born and raised in Purwokerto, Kabupaten Banyumas, Alwi comes from a humble background. His father is a seasoned chef in Jakarta, his mother is a housewife, and his younger brother attends a religious boarding school (pesantren) in Ciamis, West Java.

Since kids, Alwi loved dismantling electronics. His fascination with the tech began when his father gave him a computer. Unfortunately, back then, Alwi’s village had limited internet access. So, he started to devour knowledge from books with his neighbor.

This eldest of two brothers wasn’t like any other kids. Growing up, the world seemed muffled in his right ear, and years passed before the truth surfaced. When watching a movie, he realized why other people can hear with two ears.

Frustrated, he convinced his mother to do an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) check-up. Soon, a doctor confirmed a damaged inner ear, which meant his right side couldn’t hear.
“For years, I lived unaware of my hearing loss. I thought everyone experienced the world in the same way. But when I finally learned the truth, it was a shock. I felt like my whole world had been turned upside down.”
The revelation shook Alwi, and he's been trying to “hide” this condition since then. For example, he would always choose the front seat to listen to the teacher at school. However, things worsened when he started his vocational school (SMK). The students in the back were boisterous during class, so Alwi couldn’t hear what the teacher was saying.

He went to the school counselor and told her about his hearing loss and why he was struggling in class. From there, he asked for a hearing aid from his parents.
“I told my father about the doctor’s recommendation for hearing aids. The doctor said it would help my hearing and reduce the workload on my left ear. My left ear was also losing some of its hearing because it was working too hard.”
At first, his father refused to buy Alwi a hearing aid because they are expensive, but Alwi’s grandmother convinced him to buy it. After wearing a hearing aid, Alwi’s “world” changed. Even though he can’t hear 100% with his right ear, his hearing has improved.

Working Freelance While Studying

After graduating from vocational school, Alwi enrolled in a private college near his house, Institut Teknologi Telkom (ITT) Purwokerto.
“I told my mother that the IT Telkom Purwokerto was accepting applications. She immediately let me study there without even discussing it with my father. She thought it was a good choice because it was closer to home and more affordable.”
However, when his college years began, his father forced him to live in a boarding school (pesantren) during his studies. It prompted Alwi to study on campus from morning to afternoon, and then, after college, he had to go back to the boarding school for other activities. It wasn’t easy for Alwi because he felt isolated there.

Life dealt another blow when the pandemic hit. His father lost his job, and his family’s financial situation worsened. Alwi’s mother struggled to keep the family afloat, while his father refused to help. In the fifth semester, Alwi didn’t receive any allowance from home, so he started working part-time as a graphic designer at the university.
“I also worked part-time at the boarding school, where I was a tutor for the English training program. My income from these jobs was insufficient to cover my living expenses.”

When Alwi Pursued His IT Dream in Bangkit

Struggling to make ends meet while pursuing his studies, Alwi seeks an opportunity to excel in his tech skills. One day, his lecturer sent a link to a group chat. He clicked on the link, leading Alwi to the announcement of Bangkit’s opening registration.

After reading the announcement, Alwi became more interested in Bangkit, knowing that this career readiness program from Google offered certification, training, and access to a broader range of jobs. He thought it was a great opportunity, so why not try?

However, when Alwi’s father knew his decision to join Bangkit, he initially hesitated. His father questioned his son’s decision and worried it would interfere with his studies.
“My father, as usual, was always against it. He said, ‘What’s the point of participating in something like that?’ I explained to him that the lessons in Bangkit could be converted to the semester credits on campus.”
Convinced of Alwi’s determination and commitment, his parents finally gave their blessing. Choosing the Cloud Computing path, Alwi immersed himself in the rigorous online training. He spent countless hours studying, practicing, and collaborating with fellow Bangkit participants.

However, juggling his studies with his responsibilities in the boarding school took much work. Sleep-deprived and struggling to keep up with the coursework, he was in tears one night, unable to overcome a challenging task.

The road ahead was far from smooth. Alwi had to catch up on missed courses, dedicating long hours to studying and practicing. Amidst the struggles, Alwi found solace and support from his Bangkit peers and mentors. Their encouragement and guidance helped him persevere, eventually completing the program.

When finished Bangkit, Alwi watched the closing ceremony with his parents. Out of the blue, his father was very proud of him for completing the program.
“I was also happy and amazed because before I joined Bangkit, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Bangkit’s experience transformed my life. I gained valuable technical skills, built a strong network, and most importantly, discovered my true potential.”

“Challenges Come with the Strength to Conquer Them”

Armed with new skills and confidence, Alwi is now well-positioned to launch a successful career in the tech industry. After Bangkit, Alwi landed an internship at BNI, gaining valuable back-end development experience and honing his soft skills.

Upon graduating from ITT Purwokerto, Alwi faced challenges. He failed several technical assessments. However, he remained undeterred and continued to learn and improve his skills. His perseverance paid off when he was offered a position at IFG Life.

This process was unique because, without even going through an HR interview, Alwi went to test and user interviews. The user was impressed by the knowledge and skills he gained from Bangkit. Three days after the interview, Alwi received an offer letter.
“Finally, a month after graduation, I went to Jakarta for my first work day. I was amazed because I got a laptop from work that I could take home.”
Alwi quickly settled into his new role at IFG Life as a back-end developer, surrounded by supportive colleagues who were willing to teach him. He appreciated the relaxed and collaborative environment, allowing him to learn and grow while enjoying his work.

Daily, Alwi is responsible for developing and maintaining the company’s web service systems. He works on the core team, building systems to streamline workflows, such as selecting applicants for life insurance and generating policies. He also creates web services based on product owner requirements for internal systems.

After several months of working, Alwi was privileged to work from home (WFH). Despite working remotely, Alwi prioritizes a well-rounded life. He maintains a fitness routine with three weekly gym sessions and singing with his community choir.
“These activities help me de-stress and enhance my focus at work,” Alwi emphasized.
Before Bangkit, Alwi was plagued by worry. His physical limitations made him doubt his opportunities in the job market. However, Bangkit opened his eyes to a new reality. There, he met resilient individuals with physical limitations who remained active and enthusiastic until the program’s end; one was Adhi Setiawan.
“The inspiring story of a Bangkit participant who used a wheelchair left a deep impression on me. His perseverance became a driving force for me to keep moving forward.”
To end the interview, Alwi said, “Thank you, Bangkit,” with an emotion-filled voice. “Because of this program, I have achieved my current position, and I am confident I will continue to grow and reach even greater goals.”


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