How to help my friend land a developer job?

Hey folks, I’m a software developer in Canada and have been full time for roughly 3 years.
I have a friend who’s been trying to become a developer for about 1.5 years after graduating from a college with programming diploma (it’s a 2 year long program and not a computer science or university level engineering degree). He’s 35 years old, done 2 not-too-impressive co-op terms, and now working part-time (about 15-25 hours per week) at a restaurant. He’s quite desperate now, as he interviewed at a number of places but didn’t get an offer from any of them, but thinks he’s too late to search other career paths (I know, it’s never too late to start anything, but I can understand him when I think about all those years on college and studies, besides I can’t think of anything else in particular he excels at or enjoys). And to be honest, I don’t think he has enough technical or problem solving skills to qualify for a full time developer position yet.

So I’d really love to help him get those skills needed to land on a developer position. I’m hesitant to tell him to just work hard, because he needs a good direction he can commit to. Should I tell him to complete a not-so-trivial application development project? Or should I tell him to work on theories (data structures, algorithms, OOP, design patterns)? Or constantly work on FCC? He’s been learning React and done a few tiny projects in it. He lacks practical skills in general, but lacks theoretical knowledge even more. Btw, I’m willing to dedicate a major spare time of mine to somehow help him - I’ve designed a few mini projects/exercises for him and he worked on them, but he doesn’t seem convinced that this path will help him and to be honest I’m not too convinced either.

I’m really hoping he will make his way. These days I’m starting to even worry about his mental health. Any advice will be a huge help!! Thank you so much for reading guys.

I’m just going to throw this out there, run it by your friend, and see if that excites him.

How about just start his own web design business? Create websites for small business, like restaurants, lawyer offices, realtor offices, etc. Charge a flat fee to create these websites (use WordPress, use free themes and just modify them to suit colors/layout/font, etc.). He can charge anywhere from $500 to $1500, or more for this design/setup service… and maybe even offer to host these websites for these businesses. (right there, that’s a monthly recurring income… charge them $30/mo, host them somewhere that charges $5/mo, and he pockets the difference… and he becomes the point-person/tech support person for these companies.) Have 5 or 10 hosted clients, and that’s an easy $125 to $250/mo profit.

Start a blog/product review site, display Google Adsense ads, make money from PPC commissions ($0.10 to 0.24, maybe even $0.80 per click or more). If he makes $3 to $5/day, that’s $90 to 150/month.

Or link to Amazon products, and make anywhere from 4% to 8% commissions everytime someone buys a product. These add up fast… earnings per day may be small, but multiply by 30 days… it’s a big chunk at the end of the month. Say average of $6/day x 30 days = $180/mo.

eBay or Amazon arbitrage… scout garage sales, use your iphone, take a picture of the garage item, see how much they typically sell on eBay… profit!

I know it’s not PROGRAMMING per se, but hey, you can really make money online… use his computer skills, hustle and make money. I know it’s not the typical 8-to-5 day job. But he can do this during his free time while he continues to study/look for a job, etc.

PS: At one point, I had at my peak 150+ customers, each paying me somewhere between $25 to $50/month hosting their websites (depending on their plan). And some of them, would contract with me to design a website also… I used to charge back then $300 to $600, then $1500 per website. I was making more on this side gig than my regular day job. – so I quit my day job.

Google ads, I put some ads on my hobby website, and that was bringing in $100 to $150/mo, sometimes $300/month. Extra spending money for my hobby!

Same with Amazon… commissions anywhere from $50 to $150/mo… depending on traffic, and what people buy. Electronics and big ticket items, especially around holidays you’ll make more.

Also, small/medium sized businesses are desperate for computer help! They usually contract with brick-and-mortar computer shops out there, and these shops fleece them! But these SMBs have no choice but to pay these shops for computer help. So he can try selling his maintenance service to these small biz, and establishing some kind of monthly retainer with them, plus some per hour charge, and he can make a killing being the on-call “Computer guy” for these small businesses! Update their website with new content, setup data backup equipment, connect a new computer/laptop to their network, setup wifi, etc. These SMBs can’t afford to hire a dedicated computer guy. So he can be it. Think small offices, lawyers, accountants, realtors, etc… Just this week, I helped a lawyer’s office recover from their server crash (it was a total goner, that could have been the end of his business…) but thankfully, there was a usb backup drive, and I set them up with a new Network Attach Storage with plenty of space, faster than their old server, and saved his business. Just a couple hours of work, and the restore operation I just let it run overnight. Got paid a quick $500 for that.

Anyway, these are alternative to pure programming path. In fact, the mentality required for these is more of a hustle/entrepreneur/startup kind of thinking.

Keep us updated!


Thank you a bunch!! I will definitely pass this along to him.
Yeah you’re right it doesn’t have to be pure programming. But personally I would find learning programming and getting a salaried job easier… but that’s just me :slight_smile:
One question though if you don’t mind… do you have a recommended strategy to find those SMBs that are seeking computer guys? How much skills do you need for this (e.g. restoring server, etc)?
Really appreciate your detailed comment again.

Yes, a salaried job would be easier and stress-free (in terms of a regular paycheck coming in, regardless if you were productive or not). Running your own biz is harder, riskier… but rewards could also be bigger (and not limited), though not regular like a paycheck. If you’re the type of person that can’t stand to do the same job/work day in/day out… then this lifestyle offers more freedom and variety. Lots of pros and cons. It’s not easy-peasy all the way, maybe even more stressful. Sometimes you wish you have a dayjob instead, and sometimes you feel fortunate to not have a dayjob. (BTW, doing this now for 19 yrs, haven’t had a day job since 2000).

Another site you may refer to your friend is

You’ll find people here that have started their own websites, offering services or products using their programming skills. Some make $50/mo, some make $3K. some $30K/mo or $100K or more. Others make good money from providing simple services like publishing newsletters, or making website templates (web designs, WordPress templates, etc). The above site offers help/tips/advice/encouragement to people wanting to start Saas (software as a service, or software as a product)… basically anyone who wants to make money online.

The best way for an IN, is a recommendation from someone, or word of mouth referral. As for skills, I don’t know the computer hardware experience of your friend but this is more along the lines of IT work, computer technician, server administration work… solving problems type of tasks. Has your friend assembled a computer? Setup a LAN network? Setup a router/wifi, can follow directoions/manual to setup something? As usual, getting the first job or client is the hardest part. That’s just life.

A lot of SMBs uses Craigslist - believe it or not. They use CL to look for new employees, look for services to hire, etc. So that’s one avenue to pursue/advertise.