Freelance to gain experience

Freelance to gain experience
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#1

Here’s a little bit about my background thus far:

I started learning to code with freecodecamp and codecademy back in… I think summer of 2015. Once I felt comfortable and competent with front end, I started applying to jobs. My portfolio really only consisted of the basic front end challenges, so nothing super noteworthy, but just to show I knew enough to build a bit, and a willingness to learn.

I tried to learn everything I could about Javascript, and continued to branch out to try to learn some of the frameworks, like React, Node.js, and jQuery.

With the jobs that I applied to, most of the front end jobs I never heard back about. Interestingly, there were a couple of back end jobs that I applied to and was very upfront about having barely any experience with node.js, but they actually moved me onto the second round of interviews, and they acknowledged that I actually did really well on the test round, but of course moved to someone with more experience (totally understandable in these instances).

Then I thought I hit a little bit of a break. A tiny company in my tiny town needed a front end developer, and were comfortable with me needing to learn their stack. They brought me in, showed me the stack and talked to me about company goals. But then they slapped me in the face with an offer that was less than half of the starting wage of a front end dev, and wanting me to work as a full stack dev for that tiny salary. I was literally in the process of purchasing a house (I was going to the inspection immediately after the meeting at the tiny company) and was not in a position to take a huge pay cut. I work a mediocre position in sales/customer service and they were offering me 2/3 of what I make now, which was not a cut I could take. So I told them that I would have to make at least what I make now, and that was it, we didn’t talk after that. There was a lot of buzz suggesting I should take the job and be thankful, and see about a raise in a year after more experience. But I just couldn’t do that, to be honest.

TL;DR
So after endless applications and no serious offers (and barely any interviews), I’m wondering how to beef up my portfolio to get a front end job. One of my ideas was to start freelancing. Not on freelancer.com or upwork.com or anything, but instead, advertise locally to try to just get clients the old fashioned way.

Has anyone done this and been successful? Or does anyone have any other suggestions for getting to a point where they were able to get a job?

Thanks folks!


#2

Have you tried working on open source projects?


#3

That’s a great question. I didn’t want to bore people too much with diving into it. During Hactoberfest, I did branch out and work on just a couple of open source projects, but not many at all.

However, while I was writing my question, I thought of the same opportunity, and actually hopped onto Github to find a couple of projects to contribute to on the front end. I’m digging a bit more into them.

Has anyone had success with contributing to open source aiding in landing a job?


#4

Things like Hacktoberfest are a great way to push yourself to finally jump into OS contributions or to build a habit of submitting PRs. As job preparation and resume strengthening though, one-off PRs are’t a big help. What can be very useful is really getting involved in a project and being a regular contributor. This is much more like what you’ll do when you begin working as a developer. You’ll come into an existing, unique, confusing code base that includes technology that you’re unfamiliar with. You’ll have to work with strangers who have their own ways of doing things. You’ll learn by doing and develop a sense of ownership over the project that you are helping build and maintain.

You’ll be able to demonstrate to potential employers not only that you can accomplish the above, but also a pattern of regularly contributing, adressing bugs, responding to feedback, and providing your own.


CV/Resume Question: Adressing a Large Gap
#5

Those are some great points. I never actually thought about the pattern of the types of contributions that I make to actually matter. So I am very thankful that you pointed it out, and it completely makes sense.

A lot of what you said I can see with my first OS project. I became proud of that project because I had a stake in its success. And it was such a new experience to dive in to a foreign project and try to find my footing.

Thank you for your point of view.