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Very few packages installed by default on Debian 9 - fresh install

I have used Ubuntu for over a year and decided to try Debian - I'm fairly familiar with the basics by now. I installed Debian 9.0.0 from a large ISO file (~3.5GB) using a bootable USB. My WiFi hardware needs additional tweaking, and hence unless I do that first, I can't install anything using apt-get.

While trying to get my WiFi working, I realized that I have very few packages/programs installed by default after the fresh install. For instance, for fixing the WiFi, I needed to use make - which didn't work because I had no build-essential installed. So, without internet, I tried to install build-essential using the ISO file mounted (and /etc/apt/sources.list updated appropriately). However, as expected I was met with a large number of Unmet dependancies, and at one point I noted that I did not have gcc installed. Similarly, I have found linux-headers not installed.

Question: Does Debian follow a do-it-yourself approach (like I heard Arch Linux does)? Or have I gone wrong somewhere (in the installation, or afterwards)?

I don't work in the CS field and I can't afford to install all basic packages from start - I use my machine for work. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

EDIT: I found this post relevant. However I don't even have aptitude installed on the system, by default.