Its been quite a while since I decided to write anything on this blog but I thought that the start of a new journey in my career would make a great reason to come back here. That new journey is becoming a freelance software engineer!
I am doing business as Taylor R Price, Software Consulting and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note that this does not mean that I would turn down a full time position with anybody that I am currently interviewing with or possibly interviewing with in the future that happens to find this post.
Why would I become a freelancer?That is an excellent question. I've spent the last 6 months at home spending time with my family and looking for work. Along the way, I've realized several things:
- I'm a great software engineer but I'm not so great at on the spot tests that happen during in person interviews. Take home assignments after phone interviews and before in-person interviews aren't a problem but my brain just seems to shut off when I get into the interview room.
- I don't want to spend my time practicing for those tests. While I could get good at them, that's not what I do for a living.
- Note that I'm not opposed to practicing things like data structures and algorithms. I spent some time using HackerRank and posting my solutions to Github. They are foundational concepts to being a software engineer and should, at some point, be studied by everyone seeking to be a knowledgeable programmer. But practicing them doesn't pay the bills. Nor are they necessarily used in the day to day practice of fixing bugs or adding new features (that's a topic/argument for another post and might require a beer or few).
- I'd love to learn some new languages and technologies that I didn't get paid to learn and use in my recent positions. Presently I'm taking courses on Ruby on Rails.
- I don't have a job yet and I need to pay my family's bills.
- I'm excited to start something new!
Note that none of the above reasons address any of the benefits or downsides of being a freelancer. They're just reactions to my current situation and, for the moment, they are real frustrations and feelings that may be soothed by becoming a freelancer. That being said, I know that I'll need better reasons for being a freelancer that will keep me going during rough times. So, to address the "now why are you REALLY starting your own company and where do you REALLY want to go?", here are some of my reasons and goals:
- I like helping people bring their ideas to fruition. The better I do at this, the better my business will do. Win - Win.
- As comforting and secure feeling as a job with benefits is, I don't want to get or stay pigeon-holed into any one particular skill set such that I can be dropped when not necessary any more.
- I aim, in time, to transition into more of a consulting/advisory/architectural role. This will come with lots of experience and reputation but, I hope, in time I will get there.
- I enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home spend time with my family during the week.
What am I doing to become a freelancer?Really this question should be: What problems do I have to overcome to become a successful freelancer? (And what am I doing to solve those problems?)
My first problem is a lack of contacts who know that I am now willing to take on small to medium sized programming jobs that my current skill set will allow me to complete quickly. That's one of the reasons why I'm writing this post. It is my hope that some of my friends reading this will have some work to be done or know somebody who does. As a side note to this point, the majority of my experience presently lays in writing desktop applications in C and C++ for Windows and Unix machines. I'm learning Ruby on Rails presently to extend my capabilities into the web development arena. Check out my LinkedIn profile and StackOverflow profile.
My second problem is finding jobs to do to build reputation and extend my network of friends. For this problem, I'm currently using Upwork to find some positions. I welcome suggestions for changes to my profile if sent to me privately.
My third problem is knowing how to run a business. I've been listening to The Freelancers Show in an attempt to introduce myself to the problems freelancers have. I've also read a few blogs to help inform myself (this blog from Hired is a good start). I'm aware that this is about as polar opposite to earning myself an MBA and learning how to run a business "properly" (if that's even possible) as I can be. Again, please let me know what problems I'm likely to face and I'll add research to my task list (which is quickly becoming GIGANTIC).
Lastly, a major question I've been wrestling with is how to transition into working in new areas of technology that I've not yet worked in professionally. As mentioned earlier, I'm currently taking some courses on Ruby on Rails through Coursera. This, of course, doesn't mean that I'll come out the other end of the course a rails wizard. My hope is that it will bring me to the point of being able to handle small jobs that will guide me into being a wizard of the web. For now, though, I can handle the majority of your C++ projects and look forward to doing business with you!