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Thread: Do I have a chance as a Web Developer?

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  1. #1
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    Do I have a chance as a Web Developer?

    I've just started getting into this whole web design thing and I think I might like to try getting a entry level position or an internship somewhere.

    A few questions:
    #1 Is it more likely that I will have to be an intern first or are there salaried/hourly positions available at the entry level?

    #2 What type of firm should I try to apply to - large web design company, large companies that have websites,
    small web design firm?

    #3 What are the essential skills/languages/programs I should know?

    #4 <Most Important> Do you think I can hack it? Please check out my first website. I made it for the crafts that my mom makes. She paid me with a peanut butter & jelly sandwitch

    www.maineIslandillusions.com

    I designed everything except for a few components that I used (drop boxes and a form) and took all the photos, created the logo etc. Check out About Us and FAQ for some nice photos.

    Background
    2002 Grad BS-Computer Science, minor in Accounting
    Used to make the above site:
    Flash MX
    Photoshop 6
    PHP
    mySQL
    Digital Photography
    Some Freehand MX
    Sorenson Squeeze
    Cool Edit Pro (for audio)
    Bryce 5
    Dreamweaver MX (for HTML version yet to be released)
    CSS
    javascript
    Other stuff but not used in site: Swift3D V3, Camtasia Studio, FrontPage, C++, Oracle 9i, ColdFusion, Database Design, Data Mining, Television Production and Direction, all sorts of Accounting (job costing, ABC costing, federal tax, accounting for takeovers, acquisitions ... etc, etc.)
    I also am "interning" for a web developer and have done a few things that he couldn't figure out such as creating forums on customers sites, Whois Availibity and looking up owner info (for customers signing up for new domain names). He also wants me to make his site ecommerced based (instead of "call to order") for hosting, web design, and buying templates.

    Thanks for any tips and visiting my site! Let me know what you think and if I should apply down at the local Exxon instead
    John

  2. #2
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    Hi John,

    It's a big industry and there many ways in which you can approach working in it along with countless different areas in which you can specialise your skills.

    You seem to have a good grounding and level of education but it's all about selling yourself and your skills. There are so many people out there who could technically do the job but aren't suitable in many other aspects - teamwork, design skills etc etc etc etc.

    There's no one answer to your question as different people get into the industry for different reasons or in different ways.

    I think a common way is an internship with a design agency, I'd be inclinded to say that smaller companies might be a better bet but it's not a solid statement as many people here work for larger companies who have a design/development department.

    As for skills, again, difficult to say. What is it you want to do? Design, graphics, programming, search engine work, animation, 3d, database work etc etc, all of which you mention you have some experience in. I would say a good way to go is to learn all you can but there are risks in being seen as a "jack of all trades and a king in none" so to speak. Then again, there's a risk in devoting your skills to more limited market such as design or purely coding for a living.

    I suppose in short, there isn't a solid answer I can give you, perhaps others will be able to. Get out and about, check out your local job market and see what companies there are, who might be hiring/taking on trainees etc, consider freelancing, get to know how the market is going - are there many jobs in web related disciplines in your area, are you willing to relocate to work etc etc/

    All a bit vague I know but I hope it gives you something to go on.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member MG315's Avatar
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    I also have recently got into the design industry (by that i mean paid design, ive been designing for a while). This is what's worked for me:

    - You definately need a portfolio in which you show what you have done, describe what you can do and how to contact you. So far, every job offer I received came from someone looking at my portfolio and liking it.

    - Start a team. You could call it a studio but its more of an association of different freelancers who specialize in different things putting their skills together to get bigger and better projects. I wouldnt suggest learning everything that you can possibly learn b/c then you will be a "jack of all trades." Rather, figure out what interests you and what you have a natural talent for, specialize in that and become experienced in things related to that and then outsource the things you cant do to people who can do them. That's the reason I established a team. I'm pretty good at graphic design and flash, but I suck at backend coding. So my team consists of 2 designers (I specialize in web, partner specializes in print) and 2 coders. Helps a lot because then you can specialize in one thing and just pass what you cant do to someone else who specializes in it.

    - Internship. Starting June 1 i will have an internship at a graphic design studio real close to me. Dont know how often I'll work or what I'll be paid, but the main thing is the experience. I want to see if i would like to turn this into a career instead of just a hobby that I've begun to make money from. So get an internship and see if you like that field.

    - Online marketplaces are pretty worthless. Theres way too much competition and you need to charge such a low rate that its not worth it. Also, places like creative moonlighter make up fake projects just so it looks like they have a lot of projects. So if possible, stay away from them. Stick with word of mouth and online marketing.




    I believe you can make it in the industry, but you must realize that there's already too many designers. So instead of looking for jobs online where anyone from anywhere can apply, try to go with local jobs. you will have much better luck with local jobs b/c there is a lot less competition.
    Bill Erickson: resume | portfolio
    1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    Great Designs for $100

  4. #4
    default user juxtaflo's Avatar
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    So where did you end up getting an internship at MG315?

  5. #5
    Senior Member MG315's Avatar
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    Logic Designs

    a while ago i posted that i was looking for an internship and I had emailed them but they replied with "check back in early june" which I thought meant, "we dont wanna deal with you so we'll postpone it long enough for you to forget." I sent him an email a few weeks ago asking if I could get an internship there, basically restating my first email, and he said "still interested. call monday at ..." so I called and he said he could most likely get me in on a project on June 1. pretty cool seeing as they do work for all those top businesses and I just started graphics last summer.
    Bill Erickson: resume | portfolio
    1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    Great Designs for $100

  6. #6
    default user juxtaflo's Avatar
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    Congratulations.

  7. #7
    Waaambulance Pilot sk8Krog's Avatar
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    nice job mg315, they look nice.
    It must be obvious day at camp stupid

  8. #8
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    Thats great. Dont they just specialize in print? Since 2advanced made there site.


    -Mike

  9. #9
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    Looks like the thread got a little off topic.
    Guess I'm on my own as usual

    John

  10. #10
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    I'm investigating this subject as well and every answer is so different that it's confusing as hell.

    I could blow away most flash ads I see, but the most important thing is making what the paying customer wants, not what I could do if I went all out. I assumed the ads are made by people who have skills far beyond what they actually used in the ads too... but I'm learning that this isn't always the case.

    So some guys have almost no skills beyond banners, yet make money. Then I read jvanv8's skills and become ill because he leaves me so far behind that I couldn't touch him with a mile long pole... yet he's afraid he may not be able to hack it. What gives???

    Then, a lady friend who has worked at Yahoo and GeoCities (among others) just told me in chat:

    "I think it's a matter of getting over the fear and just jumping in and doing work."

    Hmmm... employers list all the skills of the *perfect* candidate, which doesn't exist, and then hire the person who can get the job done. So they ask for back-end mastery, 300 years experience with Flash, Director, Premier, ASP, XML and everything under the sun... and then hire the guy who can make a 4 layer banner animation and slip it into the top layer of the web page *because he can get the immediate, paying job done*. Which, of course, is what gets the check from Mr. Client.

    I wish I had a better answer... but after 5 hours of looking into all this here, on Dice and on Monster, plus 3 hours of talking to my friend who has years of experience at all this, I's as confused as anyone.

    And as hopeful too. Apparently it's not about being the super guru. It's about being able to do the job... and getting in touch with those who need the job done.

    NCD

  11. #11
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    That was a great post NCD, ironic timing as well... I think I just spent the better part of 2 days on Monster, Dice, and Google plus I just got back from a mountain bike ride where all I could think about was this very topic.

    The skills vs. experience thing... Honestly, I do not understand it either. I bust my butt in college for 5 years (and I do mean that - BS in Computer Science & Accounting) go out on my own with absolutely no experience and design a full Object Oriented Flash ecommerce site with database integration and client content management for a company that technically did not exist before I put them on the net. All for free. The site isn't perfect but its 100% of my own blood, sweat, tears and FlashKit Tutorials (Hmmm... doesn't that "Angel of Light" effect look familiar... thanks FK!)

    But still, no paid experience with a real design firm. I acknowledge this, but from the standpoint of the HR department, experience is king. Frequently, developers who have been fired, quit, or abandoned their previous jobs are more highly sought after than up-and-coming solo developers. If you ask me, this has to change.

    Experience is great and I wish I had many years under my belt. However, we are not in a static industry, technology is continually changing and what was today's prized skill is tomorrow's old news. Anyone who has graduated in computer science will probably back me up when I say that we were not FED skills, we were TAUGHT the principles. We were taught to adapt. We were taught to learn.

    No, I do not have 10 years of Flash experience. I have not been developing web applications for more than 15 years. And neither have any other aspiring developers.

    Sorry for the mini rant but I really believe that young talent cannot be condensed into a bullet listing of skills and previous employers. I'm sure there are HR departments and CEO's somewhere that would agree with this. In the meantime NCD, I guess we'll have to keep searching for them.

    John


    jvanv8@cs.com

  12. #12
    default user juxtaflo's Avatar
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    Am I missing something here?

    Who are you ranting against? Have you attempted to get jobs and been turned down for some reason? According to this quote: "I think I might like to try getting a entry level position or an internship somewhere", you havent started looking yet.

    "Apparently it's not about being the super guru. It's about being able to do the job... and getting in touch with those who need the job done"

    This is your answer. Quit crying and go out and do it!! Its all about selling yourself and proving you are solid. Do you have a portfolio? a resume? We had a person that was interested in being an intern here and he couldn't even produce a resume. Its been about 2 months and still no resume. I have seen a bit of his work and its pretty good but we can't use him. How can we trust someone that cant even put together a resume, with one of our customers?


    P.S. My partner said "watch 8mile and Nas only needed one mic"

  13. #13
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    But still, no paid experience with a real design firm. I acknowledge this, but from the standpoint of the HR department, experience is king. Frequently, developers who have been fired, quit, or abandoned their previous jobs are more highly sought after than up-and-coming solo developers. If you ask me, this has to change.
    It's not likely to change anytime soon. Have you ever been an employer? If so, you'd understand it from their perspective.

    The whole "experience" issue is vastly misunderstand. Sure, you may have great design/development skills, but can you apply them in a working production environment? Can you work in a team environment? Can you get along with others? How will you react when the art director criticizes your design? These are things that an employer is concerned about.

    For example, our company hired an extremely talented 19-year-old with both design and programming skills. At 13, instead of a paper route, he was programming backend systems for local companies. He was obviously very intelligent, but he had never worked in a business environment. As a result, he came across as arrogant and condesending. He managed to offend a few people by the time his contract was up and was not hired back on.

  14. #14
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    Those are excellent points johntabita.
    Teamwork and corporate dynamics are extremely important and only experience can provide a true understanding of how they coincide with information technology.

    However, I wonder where that 19 year old is now? I'd bet that he signed on somewhere else and used the workplace experience that you provided to generate a more prosperous relationship with the firm and the other employees. I'm not saying that I too am a stuck up, cocky developer (quite the contrary) but you can't get experience without experiencing... you know what I mean?

    The Red Sox just got a new owner. The 'guy' is 27, three years senior to me. I'm sure he is going to get pummeled by the media for his age and lack of experience but I'll bet he does all right for his first year. (especially after Boston wins their first World Series in 85 years )

    Go Sox!
    John
    Last edited by jvanv8; 06-11-2003 at 07:19 PM.

  15. #15
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    Regarding resume's:

    I think one of the other posters here hit it on the head. The big deal about the resume isn't that you've done this kind of work but that you know what it is to work in the first place. Probably because of lot of the people skilled in this are under 24.

    I have a hell of a resume (I'm 37), and a few years as a Field Engineer working to keep AT&T running 24hr/6days. Not a bit of Flash on the whole thing (I'm professionally a "McGuyver" electro-mechanical troubleshooter)... but my sample portfolio is what can show that I can do Flash.

    I hope it's enough. I have time to put it together since I'm recently unemployed and they just told me that I qualify for the max unemployment check due to my paying a high rate into the system for years. The unemployment people say that it normally takes months for someone at this level to get back to work and the check will keep me covered pretty well. Maybe I can use some of that time to see if I can get good enough for some of the contract work I see out there.

    UI is my strong suite... as in imaginative, compact interfaces that actually react in unexpected, entertaining ways. But apparetnly there is a lot more to UI than the browser, flash and the 2D graphics program and I don't know squat beyond those 3 things.

    NCD

  16. #16
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    work

    There are tons of businesses out there who need a website. Start telling everyone you know that you design websites. You'll start getting some work. Some will be not very much money, some will be more than that. Don't do all of it for free.

    Once you get a few websites up, then go to a design place and ask them for freelance work.

    You can charge more for your own work than you'll get paid at a firm or agency, plus you'll get to work directly with the client. It's better that way.

    On your design, it's too much going on. It should be simpler. I'm not saying change your design, but look around at the really good sites and try to do what they are doing.

    jorge

  17. #17
    poet and narcisist argonauta's Avatar
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    personal experience:

    after 3 years workin in IT, got tired and quit. With a good experience in web programming, web design, and flash, i decided to start freelancing. That was 4 months ago.

    Still haven't got a website, no time. I'm making myself a client portfolio, which is the most important thing that you need.

    Anyway, it's hard, specially here (Ecuador) where webdesign is in diapers yet. Internet is slow (the fastest, for home, is ADSL, 128kbps, and that is if you have the money to pay 160USD a month). So mostly I've turn to another approach. Trying to get partners that already have a client portfolio, and applaying for backend development (i'm waiting for one cool one). Also, I'm in the process of start working with some guys that sell full IT solutions (IT, mail, domains, etc), as the Web design part, and probably for a CMS project i have, so we make it commercial. A place to make easy money is Universities, at least here, as students usually need presentations, specially when they're graduating, they have some projects, for which they pay up to 1000USD for consulting, printing stuff and others, and always do crappy powerpoint presentations themselves, so I jump in and help them doing cool multimedia presentations for low prices. It's about a day or two that you need to work and get the money.

    Anyway, it sounds cool, but it's hard, sometime money isn't coming, you get desperate. At this point, I'm trying to get a half-time job as a designer (or one as a webmaster) so I can relax a little bit about my economy

    I know it's hard, but I say, I won't give up. Nothing comes easy, and you need to work hard.

    Mostly i think that besides your talent/knowledge as a designer, you need other things:

    know the right people: very usefull, and very helpfull, to get jobs, or to make business.

    sell yourself: I've been hired for some jobs, without even presenting them what i've done or can do. Just by convincing them. Of course, there's no better presentation card than your work.
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