Last summer I spent a lot of time on Upwork. I had visions of making it as a freelance copywriter. I worked my way up from $3 an hour for transcription to a couple of decent $20+ hourly writing gigs, but then I found a full time job and stopped freelancing for a while.
This summer, I decided I’d rather write code for a living, so I’ve been learning from FCC and everywhere else. About halfway through the FCC curriculum, I went back to Upwork to update my profile and see if I could find any development jobs. I sent a few proposals but I was a little daunted at the idea of trying to sell myself to freelance clients with no substantial experience in the field, so I decided to just focus on learning enough to qualify for a regular full time job.
A couple weeks later, I got a message on Upwork from a startup in California who needed a React developer. I spoke with the client (VP of engineering) and told him right up front that I had no professional coding experience but I had been learning fast and I was confident that I could deliver good work. He agreed to give me a test project under the guidance of the front end contractor who’s on his way out.
Three hours on the phone with the front end guy on Tuesday gave me a real eye-opening introduction to the world of professional Web development. The app only had two views and only called three API endpoints but included thousands of lines of code and a huge pile of dependencies. I felt like I was drowning at first. But then I had time to myself to dig into the project (create a new view) and everything came together for me.
Fast forward to today, and the VP calls back and offers me the job! For at least a month working remotely full time at an entry level hourly wage (lower than most developer jobs, higher than any other steady gig I’ve done), with the option to continue if we agree that things are working out. He said that they considered some more experienced candidates, but that I stood out for my enthusiasm for learning and my timely and clear communication. The front end guy apparently told him that I showed a lot of potential and they don’t want to turn away talent. So now I’m employed for at least a little while and if I fit in well at this company it could be a long-term job. And they came looking for me.
Creating a profile on Upwork and other freelancing sites can’t hurt, and if you already have some work history on such a platform it would be a good idea to keep your profile up to date and see if any clients contact you, even if it’s not worth your time to go applying for contracts yourself.
Reliable communication and commitment to learning can be your big selling point if you don’t have a bunch of (or any) prior experience.