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Last post Jul 16, 2009 11:55 AM by RickNZ
Jun 16, 2009 04:17 PM|LINK
I'm trying to break into web development but wherever I look it states that you need commercial experience, of course I'm in that trap where I don't have the commercial experience and can't get it unless someone gives me a chance. So I was thinking about
going freelance and I'm just wondering if this would be a good idea. Did any of you guys start out freelancing and if so how did it go? Also how do I work out pricing?
Any help or ideas would be very much appreciated.
Jun 16, 2009 06:45 PM|LINK
1) Put up your own site, that's a GREAT tool to show off your work.
2) Start doing some open-source or shared-source work. Find a good CodePlex project to join in and help out.
3) Do some volunteer work for some non-profit orgs perhaps (local churches, youth sports, schools, etc).
These are things I've done.
Jun 16, 2009 07:33 PM|LINK
Mike, it will not be easy.
Curt is correct about doing volunteer work if you can find the time.
I'm 62. I started programming in 1967. I can not get work. Many employers want a university degree. I've got 40+ years of experience and have taught business systems analysis and computer programming full time at the community college level. But I do
not have a degree. Fortunately, there are still some employers who will accept experience in lieu of a degree.
The more examples you have, the better. If you're in this for the long term, take a serious look at ASP.NET MVC. See:http://forums.asp.net/t/1430369.aspx "kudos to Rob Conery: I Spose I’ll Just Say It: You Should Learn MVC".
Are you sure you really want to get into this business? There are really good programmers in India who earn US$8000 per year; they are your competition.
Read, read, read!!! ACM (http://acm.org) is US$100 per year (US$50 per year if you are unemployed). They have 100s of online books and courses that are included in your membership fee.
There is always more to learn. Job ads often ask for things you do not have.
Job ad #1: wants c#; you can not apply. Regardless, to be competitive you learn c#.
Job ad #2: wants c# and XML; you can not apply. Regardless, to be competitive you learn XML.
Job ad #6: ........ arghh!! .... it's never ending.
Jun 16, 2009 08:37 PM|LINK
Thanks for responding chaps; I do feel a little dejected.
Gerry I can certainly relate to the job example on your post. I always feel like I’m one step behind no matter how hard I try with all the studying I do, not a day goes by when I don’t put at least a couple of hours in but there is just always something else
I don’t have. It feels like a tremendous effort with no reward. Surely though it can’t just be me feeling like this, are there really people out there that really know so many technologies so thoroughly? I know there’ll be some but surely they must really
be few and far between.
I'm really starting to feel that I've invested a huge amount of time over a very long period of time for nothing.
Jun 16, 2009 10:53 PM|LINK
early in my career, one learned something, it was good for a while.
later, it was put in more hours.
then it was put in even more hours to slow down the rate at which one was falling behind.
next, it was give up on a number of technology areas, there was just too much for one human to know it all.
the sad thing it that the technologies in demand are fast moving targets that could change course in an instant.
if had had my life to live over, I'd do it differently. hindsight is 20/20.
Mike, bottom line: most of us need a career; most of us have only a job.
if you want to be a programmer, you'll need to put in many long hours and still may have frequent periods of unemployment.
your big question is what type of programmer would you like to be and why.
are you young enough to get a degree?
for every person who really knows the shopping list of technologies that one sees in job ads, there are likely 1000 Mikes and Gerrys.
the challenge is to get an interview. the next challenge is to get a job.
sadly, know who often trumps ability and know how.
networking is important; you need programmer friends, I.T. manager friends, et cetera.
if you can live for next to nothing, then you can start at a lower pay scale and work your way up.
the other day, a person told me she was paying junior programmers CDN$12.50 an hour because she could.
around the same time, a man my age told me I was too old to program for him.
it's not just programming. in general, there will never be enough jobs to go around ~~ there's just too many people on this planet. Worse, there are far too many greedy people on this planet. The distribution of wealth is like a teeter totter with a four
year old starving African child* on one end and a 600 pound person on the other.
now in America, there are homeless people living in tents just like we've seen for years in the third world.
and the rich Wall Street financiers get the bail out money while the federal reserve ramps up the printing presses to mortgage your children's and your children's children's future.
So, Mike, it's okay to feel dejected.
There's a saying: if your neighbour loses her/his job, it's a recession; if you lose your job, it's a depression.
I wish I could be more upbeat. You need to make the decision that is best for you. Whatever that decision is, I wish you the best of luck and a few breaks along the way.
Regards ~~ Gerry
* P.S.: not trying to be a downer, honest. everyone needs to remember that approximately every six seconds a child dies somewhere as a direct result of poor nutrition. That's not acceptable on a planet where everyone could have basic nutrition for a fraction
of the cost of the money spent on the world's armies. Well fed people are not that likely to become our enemies.
Jun 17, 2009 11:35 AM|LINK
My advice is don't do it, find something else to do. I say that because
1) India - companies today aren't going to pay someone here $50(or so) an hour when they can pay someone over there 10 - 15 an hour (if that much)
2) Technologies. - Like what was already mentioned, technologies today are a moving target and by the time you become profficient in one technology such as C#, there is a newer version of it and someone is staying up all night learning it and putting it
their resume. Most companies want the latest and "greatest" technology, even though it may or may not be proven yet in the real world. If you want to become proficient in any technology, you'll be pretty much learning something new 24/7/365
3) Job listings - again as previously posted, 99.9% of the job postings want the "dream programmer", meaning they want someone with every technology that the hiring manager has ever heard of, which in the real world is never going to happen and in most of
these cases every technology will be listed on a resume from someone from India, and they'll do the job for half of what you would want.
and the list can go on and on, but overall I'm in IT as web programmer using the .NET technology (VB.NET and C#) and also an application architect with over 15 years of experience and its tough finding a new gig due to the outsourcing, so I'm looking to
get out of it and do something else.
If you really want to be a programmer, pick a technology and become an "expert" in it (I use "expert" losely), become certified in that technology, though in my honest opinion certs are a dime a dozen and these days I don't think they hold much weight, but
do everything you can in learning it.
If you want to become a web developer, what kind of web developer? Do you want to do the GUI (html, CSS) of web sites, or do you want to do the backend work, (business logic, database work, components, etc)? Web Developer is a wide variety of jobs. Currently
I'm a "web developer",(like i mentioned above) but I don't do the GUI work, I do business logic, database work, create common components for the web applications, database work for web sites, etc but I'm still categorized as a web developer.
So, read it for what it is and good luck. Keep us posted on how it goes for you out there.
Jun 17, 2009 12:29 PM|LINK
I dont think I'd be as negative as some of the others...it's a good career, with lots of opportunity.
I also do not have a college degree. I did attend for 5 years as an English Lit. major but never completed. My first IT job was VERY entry level, be willing to accept that. Then you will want to work your butt off and earn the opportunity to advance.
Since I started I did get the MVP award, and that's been awesome in getting me in the door for an interview. I got this by volunteering (my time, knowledge, etc). This is another thing you can work towards.
The end is, dont expect to jump in and make big $$ at the start but if you keep on top of technology and study-study-study it will pay off.
Jun 17, 2009 12:52 PM|LINK
re: Curt_C, I don't think I was being negative, I was just stating what I see everyday as well as gone through first hand. I also don't have a college degree and at first it hurt, but once I got my foot in the door in the development world and the having
the experience, not having a degree paid off more due to the work experience, but now, that degree or cert is important to companies and/or the hiring manager.
Jun 17, 2009 02:19 PM|LINK
Thanks for all the responses; I know that I have some serious thinking to do. The problem is if I give up now I’m giving up a lot of hard work and studying but of course if I go on I could be going on for nothing and end up back at this
A consistent theme here seems to be most people not holding a degree, it’s funny but with the amount of studying needed to be a developer and the lifelong commitment to it I think we should all have ten degrees! My girlfriend and sister are graduates and both
have stated that I’ve done far more studying than they ever have and what I do is much harder, I think employers fail to understand the level of commitment required for this. Like most I dropped out of my degree due to becoming quite disillusioned by it. I
mean I expected to be learning the latest technologies but we were learning Pascal and Smalltalk and I just thought if I continue doing this then yes I’d have a degree but I’d still be unemployable as a programmer at the end of it as no one uses these technologies
anymore. There was I might add an extremely high drop out rate, I imagine for similar reasons.
I’m thinking of biting the bullet and trying to go as a freelancer, although I know it’s risky my argument is that the cost of hosting a website promoting my services will be extremely cheap on shared hosting so I won’t really lose much money.
I do have another question though. What is a typical web development environment like at work? I mean do you have reference books sitting around and do you need to refer to them on a regular basis? Is that normal or frowned upon?
Jun 17, 2009 03:09 PM|LINK
[I do have another question though. What is a typical web development environment like at work? I mean do you have reference books sitting around and do you need to refer to them on a regular basis? Is that normal or frowned upon?]: From where I'm at its
not really frowned upon because there are 100 ways to do the same thing and everyone is learning how to do it differently. So books, the web, etc are good because you learn from them and you can see that you can do the same thing 5 different ways, so you may
chose option 2 instead of using what you created. However, if someone comes in claiming that they are certified, 10 yrs experience, etc, then that person shouldn't be online learning how to connect to a database or how to create a simple web page. Now I admit
that I forget somethings due to not using it or have done that task in a long time so at times so I'll post a question, ask someone or even google it, but once I see something referencing it, it comes back to me and then I create that function.
Currently I'm learning, WPF, Silverlight and LINQ,for a project so I'm looking at books, asking questions as well as going online to read about it, due to I never used those 3 technologies. But overall its not that frowned at.
Look at it this way, (this is what I've done) a web application no matter where your at have some things in common.
1. connect to a database
2. read from a database
3. delete from a database
4 update a database
so what I've done is I created a datalayer that is pretty generic, It has a connection class, read class, delete,update, etc all in it, all I do is add the database name, server, and any stored procedures I need to use than just do a business layer for all
of the business logic and I've taken this class with me from project to project without any issues in using it.
So what I'm trying to say is that most web apps are the same (with the exception of the GUI and business logic) so creating something generic is a good way to go. The only time you should need some reference material is when your learning a new technology
or you just want to create your web sites in a different way and looking at other options to come to the same conclusion. I work with a 'so-called' certified web developer, though he's always online learning how to build asp.net web apps and coding in C#.
Realistically, going to school and gettting a degree is CS is pointless because by the time you graduate what you've learned is obsolete.To stay ahead of the game, you need books, the web, forums such as this, etc, Its like a doctor, on how they call their
work "a medical practice" because they're always learning and seeing new deseases, IT is like that as well, I call my office the 'IT Practice" because we to are learning new technologies, business needs, ways. Its an on going learning event if you ask me
just my thought