How can a freelancer get a serious programming job?



  • I posted this on the Only $0.001 per Line story, and wanted some more opinions from you guys. Seems like there are a lot of people who have been in the programming industry a while around here.

    Guys, this kind of brings up a side question I have. What is the best way to get into a real PHP programmer job? I'm 20, in college, and been freelancing on these crappy job portal sites for a while now. I get outbid by programmers like this, and I know I'm not working for near the amount I should be.

    I don't profess to be a PHP guru, but I certainly write better code than this slop. Even if it was just an entry level programming job, anything beats the slave wage work you find on some of the sites out there. Any job I've applied at in the area, I don't hear anything back. Maybe it's because I'm a "freelancer", maybe it's because I don't have an official CS degree, maybe it's my age, maybe it's something else. Is there any way for someone who's self taught to earn a fair wage programming in a situation like mine?

    //PS: I'm majoring in Engineering at the moment, but seriously considering switching to computer science, going major/minor, etc.



  • @omgitsfletch said:

    I posted this on the Only $0.001 per Line story, and wanted some more opinions from you guys. Seems like there are a lot of people who have been in the programming industry a while around here.

    Guys, this kind of brings up a side question I have. What is the best way to get into a real PHP programmer job? I'm 20, in college, and been freelancing on these crappy job portal sites for a while now. I get outbid by programmers like this, and I know I'm not working for near the amount I should be.

    I don't profess to be a PHP guru, but I certainly write better code than this slop. Even if it was just an entry level programming job, anything beats the slave wage work you find on some of the sites out there. Any job I've applied at in the area, I don't hear anything back. Maybe it's because I'm a "freelancer", maybe it's because I don't have an official CS degree, maybe it's my age, maybe it's something else. Is there any way for someone who's self taught to earn a fair wage programming in a situation like mine?

    //PS: I'm majoring in Engineering at the moment, but seriously considering switching to computer science, going major/minor, etc.

    <flamebait>First of all, learn a real language. PHP isn't one.</flamebait>

    Second, try to harvest the local market first. Read newspapers for job ads. Potential customers who want to meet their contractors face-to-face are less likely to fall into the $300 trap. 

     



  • networking, pure and simple. Get to know other freelancers in your area, go to some b2b businessclub meeting. etc.. etc..

    ideally you don't even want to have to read about a job in the paper, but get a job via a meeting or re-direction from another freelancer who is busy with something else.
    Secondly, don't be a freelancer :) Get a real job programming and first build up a portfolio so you can actually show people you can do more then frontpage express.

    As a disclamer, i've never worked as a freelancer, but because i frequently go to conferences and events and network a bit, more then once i got a request to do some job or a job offer.

    -edit-

    Also since you say your a php programmer, get to know some design studio's in your area, since on the low end of the website development world, you will often be adding functionality to some webpage made by a design studio. But i guess it's a good way to get started.  

     



  • Let me clarify: I don't really want to be a freelancer. I'd actually prefer to be employed in one place rather than jumping from small job to small job and spending half my time looking for work to do, rather than spending most of my time actually getting code written. But yea, I'll also look into business conferences and see if I can't pick up something useful there.



  • My 2 cents...

    Coming from a similar story, I found that you aren't going to be paid full developer wages without one of two things:

    1) Experience
    2) Certifications

    You are going to have to work for sub-par wages until you finish your degree or get enough experience to qualify for the "or equivalent experience" verbiage on almost all job requirements.

    Some things you can do to jump-start your resume would be to write some software on your own, to assist in whatever task you are currently assigned, be it a job or school work.  I could definitely see someone listing their job title as "student", with a full complement of achievements during that period of your life.  It would fit nicely on a resume.



  • @RaspenJho said:

    Some things you can do to jump-start your resume would be to write some software on your own, to assist in whatever task you are currently assigned, be it a job or school work.  I could definitely see someone listing their job title as "student", with a full complement of achievements during that period of your life.  It would fit nicely on a resume.

    I've never done the freelancer thing, but the job title 'student' is definitely a good thing to put on a resume, particularly if you have some interesting experience on there.  I was on a (rather intense) robotics team as a freshman, and that always makes for a good conversation piece (also for the "Oh, and this is the robotics guy" effect).  I put down a tiny amount of my course work--only the more exotic bits.  I've got a BS in physics, and managed to get some courses in on low-level microcomputer design.  You are (hopefully) not doing nothing in college, but you'll want to be selective.  Underwater Basket Weaving 310 is still resume filler. 

    Also, I'm probably going to let a lot of that fall off my resume when I update again, now that I've got real world experience.  I might keep the robotics stuff on there, though.   


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