Craigslist and Jobs

Before I worked at Microsoft (the first time), before I worked at Cognizant, before I had a wild ride with HPA and undergoing multiple acquisitions, before my first "real" job...

This was where I built my experience, this is where I started my career:

All those red boxes was where I'd spend hours scour different postings and looking for anyone that even remotely looked like they could give me work - building a website, making a small app, building a flash game, even styling a MySpace.

Other times, I'd make postings of my own: "Let me build you a website, I don't charge much" it would say.

I met a lot of interesting folks that way. I built an ecommerce site for a small laser manufacturing company. I built a website and flash game for a Ghana ian prince. And yes, I was paid $200 to style someone's MySpace.

This is where I learned to handle multiple projects and timelines, handle customers and requirements gathering, and billing.

Let me be clear: The experience was terrible. There is no glamorizing it. It was exhausting, especially when people who promised to pay me wouldn't.

I wouldn't recommend it if you can avoid it.

But, if you can't avoid it...these kind of terrible experience produce long term results.

I'm definitely better for it. As a coder, it made me more empathetic to project managers. It made me understand the basics around sales, and accounting. It made me appreciate the time value of money. Eventually, it helped me build enough of a portfolio, that when I looked for a "real" job I was able to land them fairly quickly. My wide breadth of experience stood out to hiring managers - especially given my relative "newness". I always loved hearing "You did all this in 8 months?"

If you are like I was back when I was getting started - hungry, desperate, and looking for a chance to prove yourself, it's a way to get started. I won't say it's a good way, or a great way - it's just a way.


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