Moonlighting as a tech professional?
August 13, 2011 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Systems architect in NYC with a steady 45 hr/wk job. Two kids, one more on the way. I need to earn more money. A raise is not on the horizon, and similar jobs at other companies pay about the same. I'm thinking of moonlighting. Anyone else been in this situation? Have you had success finding side gigs, where'd you find them and how did it work out?
posted by dudeman to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Is taking on more work the only possibility?

For example, does your partner work? With 3 kids, childcare might not be in the cards versus staying at home.

And if one of you is at home, is it possible that s/he can take on a part-time additional child (or, for example, do before-and-after-school care for a neighbor's kid?).
posted by k8t at 9:19 AM on August 13, 2011

Response by poster: My wife works in education. She just finished a 1-year contract and is now only doing a few tutoring jobs on the side. She won't be able to take on more work in the near term. We would very much prefer for her to be at home with the kids for the next 2 years. After that time, she will find a part time or full time position.

The idea of taking on an additional child is interesting, I'll see what she thinks.
posted by dudeman at 9:37 AM on August 13, 2011

To add onto the above, is it possible to downsize your lifestyle expenses, maybe move to a cheaper neighbrhood/housing? I take on side work through a company that contracts outside your area of expertise, so it wouldn't be relevant, but sites like might help you. I find that out of many of the job sites out there, especially job boards for freelancers, that the tech end is the only one where you can still make decent money for projects and contracts. Not so much on the writing end.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:44 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Systems architect" isn't nearly concrete enough to find part-time work. As a part timer, if you want a reasonable hourly rate, what you're selling are typically specialist skills, that most employers won't need in depth, with great enough frequency to keep on salaried staff. So, if you can build BI applications and new queries/reports/processes in Cognos, you should describe yourself as a Cognos developer, or a BI/DBA, or some such. If your special expertise is Lotus Notes, come right out and say it. If you have 10 years of experience with IBM COBOL and JCL, don't be shy talking big iron. If you've implemented 10 custom intranets using Java and EJB, you'll stand the best chance of getting paid your worth if you'll take on yet another EJB deployment. If you built a multi-domain, multi-platform distributed Object Oriented Database solution in db4o, you're probably worth your weight in gold to somebody, if you can just hook up.

If you're willing to work with small businesses, get friendly with local computer shops and repair people. Post your business card in their shops, if they let you. If you send them a referral client for computer repair, they may send you a client for your services. If you're willing to travel, make that known, up front. If you can set up your own telecommunications, if needed for working remotely, make that explicit; many small companies don't have those facilities established, and are used to having people come into their premises, physically, to work on their systems/projects. If you're limited to off-business hours, also make that clear, from the get-go.

I find local and area chapters of platform and application user groups to be pretty fertile ground for networking and finding gigs. If I were an Oracle maven, looking for extra work, you can be sure I'd know the names of all the officers in the local Oracle User Group, and be attending all their meetings, etc. If I had a history with mid-range systems, I'd be making the local IBM and mid-range user group meetings. And I'd probably volunteer a tech talk on a subject of general interest for the next meeting (or the next), or an article for their magazine/Web site.

Beats being yet another buzzword resume listing on 50 tech job Web sites.
posted by paulsc at 9:55 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

You'd be surprised how many people are looking for short-term coverage. If she is willing, she could email your neighborhood parenting listserv and say something like "I'm a teacher on maternity leave. I'd like to provide before-and-after school care for your elementary-aged child."
posted by k8t at 10:01 AM on August 13, 2011

Best answer: About two months ago, we were in need of a S2008 and Exchange 2010 guy part time only 8 hours a week. Our company is located is Oslo, Norway.

I posted it to and within 36 hours we found our guy in California --- exactly in the same situation you are. He gets a good hourly wage, we get the Senior Systems support we need. Without having to outsource to india or baltics. The funny thing is, neither of us can agree who got the better deal.

Try regisitering there or looking around or looking at other contract boards. Its free for contractors and PaulSC has it exactly right about selling your skills into categories where people have needs.

PS There is a lot of competition, but you have a big advantage of being an American which is latest outsourcing destination for countries like us. We get a higher quality worker at rates that are typically only a 1/3 more expensive than the aformentioned areas.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 10:21 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips. The kind of skills I could use when moonlighting: Programming in C, Java/J2EE, SQL, LAMP stack, Lotus Notes, HTML, JavaScript, IBM Websphere App Server, IBM WMB, MQ. I'm checking out and there do seem to be some tech projects there that I could bid on.
posted by dudeman at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2011

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