Making A Living

If you’d taken the time to read my About page, you might know that I’m one of the co-founders at the Internet start-up Octabox. Octabox however is not a source of income for the time being, as its still under-development and self-funded.

That means that we, Octabox founders, have to earn our keep in other ways.

Up until now we got by somehow by taking in a web-development project every month or two, but the well has run dry so to speak, and funding doesn’t look to be getting closer. So yours truly has decided to suck it up, and send a resume to all who might be interested. What followed was an interesting process.

At first it seemed like my resume had been lost in the sea of Internet sand. However, after about 5 days of the initial resume-sending batch I started receiving the calls. The first was from a company called OpenIT (don’t worry if you can’t read the text in the link. It’s in Hebrew), a medium web-development company whose mantra is delivering open-source solutions for web projects. That means PHP, MySQL, Apache and the rest of the hoopla I am very familiar with. We scheduled to meet on Sunday. Immediately after, another call from a company called realcommerce (don’t worry if the layout is breaking for you. You are probably using firefox). They developed some large Internet sites (in Israeli site standards at least), and have over 100 employees. Great, we scheduled for Tuesday.

After the phone calls I check both of their websites. First thing that strikes me about realcommerce is their late 90’s design and that it’s broken a bit in firefox. This is actually a major problem with a lot of Israeli sites, failing to support the third leading browser on the market. I also check their markup, by hand and through the w3 validator. Sure enough, it’s not even close to validating. I’m not a fanatic, some missing alt’s and title’s don’t really matter to me but not even declaring a doctype… I guess you can tell what’re my feeling on this one. OpenIT’s website is currently under reconstruction it seems, but at least it’s standards compliant and their place holder looks aesthetic (works on firefox too. Score one, OpenIT).

So the interviews come, and I’m killing them. They almost feel uncomfortable asking me to take the programming test. I guess I did well since I got invited for a terms offer interview the day after.
I don’t think it’s fair to the companies to disclose the actual terms, but let’s say that I was positively pleased to find out how competitive being a PHP developer is, salary wise.
During the off-day I also got some requests for price-proposal on freelance projects, and another call from a company asking me to interview for a position (which I had to decline, as I was closing in on a deal). Situation is getting better by the minute!

In the end I closed a fixed-price deal with OpenIT, which works well for both of us. I priced them a partial process of a project saying I can complete it in so and so hours. For me the pay is almost as good as freelance but at larger bulk (but still leaves me enough time to work on Octabox), and they get a super-efficient developer who completes a lot of work in limited time. In contrast, realcommerce offer was both lower and they required more hours (basically a full time job of 45 hours a week). Didn’t help their cause that they were releasing sub-standard sites thus far. The choice wasn’t very difficult.

So I have new job now, at least for a couple of months (Funding, Appear!) and I’ve learned several things about the recruitement process for web developers thanks to their Business Learning management system. I got a taste of several interview approaches, tried out some programming tests (my tests for applicants at Octabox will be much harder I assure you ;-) ) and got a valuation on my expertise in the open market. As they say, life is a learning process.

I start my new position on Sunday. I approach it as both an income and an opportunity to learn more about how others approach web-development and deployment. Should be interesting.

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