Getting a job to start your career or landing clients is a catch-22 sort of deal–in order to work you need experience, to get experience you need to work! Whether you're an aspiring developer, creative designer or budding creator, these can help get you off the ground.
Here are some of the things that have helped me bolster my resume and refine my skills:
1. Pro Bono & Volunteer Work
Offer to do some work for a friend, local business or non-profit for free. (*gasp* I know, why would you give away your work for free?! short answer: you have to give a little to get some!)
It could be as simple as this:
Hey [friend/local business/band/non-profit],
I noticed that you don't have a website/logo/clear mission statement yet, and maybe could use some help. I would love to do some pro bono work for you.
One of my favorite sites that my non-profit has had wonderful volunteers from is Catchafire which is different kind of volunteering called 'skills-based volunteering' which means you can use your specific skills to help them i.e. copywriting, graphic design, web development.
The nice thing is that projects are also time-boxed meaning that instead of indefinitely volunteering it's a project and lists how much you have saved the organization by volunteering and the amount of time you've invested to help them.
2. Freelancing & Staffing Agencies
Some of my coding chops and experience came from working through an agency doing freelance and contract work. This is great if you're new to managing clients, your schedule and deadlines (this way you don't have to!) The agency also handles the payment processing, getting people to write job & project descriptions plus helping to market you to clients once you're in their database!
Here are some staffing agencies that I'm familiar with (not endorsed or sponsored):
On Staffing Agencies...
- Agencies take fees/a cut of what you are making (you'll make all of the wages they list minus taxes of course) but you could be earning more without them.
- Maybe not the top companies or people you'd like to work with in the end, but it's a great place to start!
- Access to lots jobs with quick deadlines that could lead to full-time employment and/or lots of experience.
- Companies and clients are already vetted and can't skip town on payment, also your payments will be on time based on the schedule the agency tells you.
If you're strapped for time or not near a major city, remote freelancing might be a better option for you (agencies do also have some remote work too).
Check out Upwork which allows you to post a profile with your services, set your rate and check out what gigs other people have posted. This might be a better option than Craigslist where people can be upfront about pricing and time commitments, you can also see reviews!
3. Side Projects
Is there a small problem you've always wanted to solve, or something you could built better? The world is your creative oyster, you can build apps, write ebooks or start something offline.
Perhaps you could start a local Meetup where you bring in guest speakers who are experts in their field to knowledge share.
4. Teaching & TA'ing
Is there a local community center or university near you? Or perhaps a Meetup group that has workshops with teaching assistants (TA's) or guest speakers? Those are some great places to start.
Teaching might seem super daunting, but it could start with tutoring, mentoring and generally helping others. This could even be done online by coaching others through Coach.me or networking groups, interest forums or Slack community channels.
Sharing your experience can be super rewarding, and you don't have to be an expert to do it!
Find a mentor or someone who can share more insight into what they do and how they got experience. Perhaps they can connect you to projects or help grow your ideas.
I know this might be tough one to do when you're on the job hunt you've got to pay bills! I'm a fan of going to networking events or meetups to expand your professional network which if it doesn't lead to finding a mentor or apprenticeship, it can later on lead to more jobs, clients, freelance or pro bono work. Maybe even partnerships, who knows?!
I know the struggle to get to the next level of where you want to be is hard but it's doable! Also check out my Resources guide for learning to code if you want to sharpen your tech chops.
If you have any other tips feel free to share them in the comments below!