“I’ve been studying code for about nine months, I’ve done a couple Skillcrush classes as well as Treehouse, Code School, and Codecademy courses GALORE. I feel okay enough about my abilities to start looking for work.
But I can’t shake this feeling that I need to get an actual job to get experience in the industry first. You see, I’m transitioning from the editorial and publishing field, so I’m worried people won’t find me credible.
What are your thoughts on this? Should I just jump out there and get clients and freelance to my heart’s content? Or should I start looking for an entry-level 9-to-5 gig in the web development field, to build up my proficiency?”
First of all, awesome question. I think this is something a lot of people think about: should I jump into freelancing right away, or do I need to prove myself in another way first?
In general, I believe that the sooner you can start putting your newly found digital skills into use, the better.
Of course, you want to start out small.
For instance, my first job in the tech space was far from glamorous. It was more like a data entry position, except I also had the opportunity to do some HTML and CSS.
Nonetheless, that first job taught me a lot.
Even if you’re in a full-time position already, I highly suggest starting out by doing some small freelance projects or contract work. (Here is a list of different places you can start finding freelance work online.)
Why? Because it will give you a taste of what you’ll be doing before you sign up for a full-time position. This is especially important if you’re new and making a career shift.
(FYI: my favorite place to look for side gigs is on Craigslist. Here is a detailed article on how you can find jobs on Craigslist.)
About a full-time job making you seem more legitimate: I know what you mean. I often think about whether getting a “full-time” job would help give me credibility, too.
However, I don’t think a “full-time” job is the only way to establish yourself as a capable member in your field. Yes, getting a developer job at Google will give you tons of credibility, but I think having a stellar portfolio of work, or in the case of a developer, a Github account, can also do the trick.
I do think getting experience, whether full-time, part-time, contract, etc. is a good idea.
Really, in the end what matters is you and your goals/desires. If you are totally hating the idea of getting a full-time position, don’t do it! But if you want one, go for it.
However, if you just want to build websites for clients as a freelancer, I don’t think you need to have a 9-to-5 job beforehand. I’m sure the client really just wants to see other previous (and awesome) sites you have built!
Honestly… I think full-time jobs as we know them are on a decline; it seems to me that more people are striking out on their own these days.
And if a person didn’t want to hire me for the sole reason that I never had a full-time job in the field (but had work, testimonials, etc. to back me up)…I am not sure if that’s a person/company I’d want to work with!
Anyways—best of luck to you, Nikki! I am sure you’ll do great in whichever direction you decide to go :)