March 22nd, 2013, 12:10 PM
Interviewing a Programmer School Project!
Hello all! My name is Nathan, and I'm currently in my first semester of college in hopes of going on to major in Software Engineering and Business, with hopes to be a freelance programmer, like some of you.
I have a project for my Organizational Communication class to research my desired career path and a part of it is to interview a person in the field and write a paper about it. Unfortunately it's hard to do because of the informalities of the business, and was wondering if you could all collectively help me out. I will be sharing a link to this discussion for my teacher, so if we could keep that in mind that'd be great. So let's get started!
1. When it comes to freelance programming work, what is necessary (or extremely helpful) to begin work in the field. By this I mean, is there any certifications that will really stand out, is there a certain stress on the importance of communication skills, do you need to have the skills to manage time well, so on and so forth.
2. When it comes to finding work independently, how easy is it to find a new project to work on? Is it a dog eat dog world, or is there an abundance of work and everybody's happy?
3. What resources do you use to find new projects to work on? Ex: Craigslist, forums, face to face, etc.
4. Hows the working conditions? Hrs/Wk, mainly work from home? How often do you need to be working to make a competitive wage?
If you would like to keep your answers private and send them via email to me that would also be fine, and if you could just go on a little ramble about the life and times of an independant programmer that would be great, the more information I can collect the better. Thanks alot everyone in advance!
March 22nd, 2013, 03:00 PM
I freelance very rarely these days since I have a full time day job that I like and I often don't really need the money. In some cases, I even let the client pay me/buy me whatever they feel is fair compensation (which could include a nice dinner or some toys or a donation to a charity of my choice)
1. I get freelance jobs mainly based on my reputation. People recommend me to other people based on word-of-mouth. I have pretty good time management skills based on long experience, so I always deliver earlier than expected. Besides, the guys that I work with are usually burned by "outsourced consultants" who promise the world and deliver little. So when I come along and deliver on time, they think I'm some kinda superstar. Communication skills are always important because you need a clear idea of what is required to be done. Going back and forth is always a pain in the butt and I make it very clear up front what I'm planning to do, so the client is very involved in the design process. The less rework you have, the better you look.
2. I don't even bother to look any more, because (a) I don't really need the money and (b) I have a good reputation for being competent and former co-workers or clients are always happy to recommend me to their friends. Clients ask me to work for them, not the other way around .
3. Just satisfied people who recommend me to their contacts.
4. Mainly work from home. # of Work hours depend on what I promised to deliver when. As for rates, I don't usually propose them, but in one case, the guy didn't even blink when my friend and I bid a few K for the whole project because they had earlier paid a couple of employees a salary of about $80k per year each to write some crap in Access, which no one could maintain. We delivered a better replacement system in a couple of months, so you could say we saved them quite a bit of money!
Last edited by Scorpions4ever; March 22nd, 2013 at 03:04 PM.
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March 24th, 2013, 05:09 PM
I'm not a freelancer either, but the company I work for does contract programming, so it's similar in a sense.
In most of the programming industry there are no certifications that stand out; primarily because it's not very difficult to get certified even if you're a terrible programmer, and everyone who has worked extensively in the industry knows it. However, that's not to say that having a certificate doesn't help.
What helps you land work the most is past experience. When you're beginning work obviously you don't have a lot of that, but you can still put together a good portfolio of personal projects (I don't think I've ever met a professional programmer who didn't have some personal side projects).
Communication is critical for programmers of all types, because you have to be able to translate business concepts into programming concepts, and programming concepts back into the business concepts.
Time management is critical for freelancers in particular because they are essentially self employed. There isn't a boss watching over you to tell you how to use your time and make sure you actually do it.
There are a lot of programmers; a significant portion of them are not very good. It is not unusual to wind up on a program which has been through at least one or two previous development teams.
I don't work in marketing so I have no idea how difficult finding work is, but the company I work for never seems to be short of it.
In the US, 40 hours / week is standard. As a freelancer, it's less about how much you work and more about how much you get done.
A programmer is also essentially on-call 24/7, because if a production system breaks and you're the only person able to fix it, you're going to get the call regardless of when it happens. If your car breaks and your mechanic is out of town, you just take it to a different mechanic. You don't always have that option with a complex software application.
March 25th, 2013, 09:49 AM
I was a freelance IT guy in high school ($50/hr to run antivirus and spybot is damn good money), then I was a contractor right out of college for Ajilon consulting. Since then, it's been permanent gigs. However, I do HIRE freelancers, my company uses outsourced contractors for many things, both on-shore and off.
No certification would sway me in either direction, but the HR managers tend to like them. A portfolio or referenceable former clients are the most useful.
This question should really be referring to quality work with a reasonable offer of money. Go look in the hire-a-programmer forum right now. There's certainly an abundance of available work, but that's because it's all stupid jobs for very little money. The outsource groups we use and/or partner with at my company are all growing.
Almost all of mine are through friends, though I've offered to work here on the DevShed forums. When I need quick money I reach out to standing people who I know need a hand. Otherwise, I'd use craigslist, but I insist on contracts and copies of IDs.
For the people I hire, onshore guys work 40-45 hours a week, normal working hours 9-5-ish. They work in the office 1/4 of the time. The offshore teams work 50-60 hours a week, mostly late in the evenings so their time matches up with mine for phone calls. We pay on-shore talent a lot more than offshore.
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