How do I become a web developer when my portfolio is secret?
December 3, 2011 8:27 PM Subscribe
I've been working as an IT Guy and part-time web development guru on and off for close to 8 years. I'm looking to take the plunge, and become a full-time web developer, but have virtually nothing in my "portfolio" from those 8 years to show for it. Help!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
For the past several years, my job has, in one way or another, involved some form of web development work. This past year, I've begun to realize that I enjoy these portions of my job the greatest, and am growing increasingly miserable from my other duties. Being the "does-everything IT guy" requires far too many hours, has done nothing to advance my career, and is shoehorning me into a niche that I don't want to be in. I want to take the plunge, and become a full-time web developer, preferably in an agency setting.
I feel fairly confident in my abilities as a web developer. Although I rarely like to blow my own horn, my work is frequently complimented by our full-time in-house developers and contractors. One of my projects was outsourced to an external consultant who uncomfortably joked that I had already done most of their work for them, and indeed, the final product that they delivered consisted almost entirely of code that I had written.
Unfortunately, I've had "ownership" of very few projects, and almost none of them have been public-facing. Although I've created or maintained several dozen intranet sites, the nature of my employment hasn't really enabled me to release any work into the wild. As I apply for positions, I'm finding it difficult to explain that I don't actually have a portfolio, and that, although I have several years of web development experience, I've never been employed as a full-time web developer. Worse still, many of the projects I previously worked on are either no longer live, or are now inaccessible to me. Simply put, I don't think I can compile a remotely-compelling portfolio.
Although I know that the "best" answer to this conundrum is to create a portfolio of interesting personal/open-source projects that I can display to prospective employers, I want to get out of my job now, and am willing to take a pay cut, or endure a probationary period to do so. Also, my long hours are preventing me from doing very much "personal" work on the side. Current unemployment figures are scary, so quitting my job with no prospects in sight is not an option.
Have you ever been in this situation? How did you make the jump, and more importantly, what did you say or do to convince your future employers that you were actually qualified for the job?