a career update story

15 December 2019
From self employed consultant and contractor to full time remote developer - my career development over the last few years has even taken me by surprise. The lesson I learned is to be prepared for anything…

In February 2016 I put admataz, the business, on the backburner. I needed to recover from a series of difficult projects for clients - the familiar scope-creep, the many late nights (again), the high-stake expectations and the changed requirements. And of course, the late payments. I discovered running a small business meant a lot more than providing the skills of a web developer for hire - delivering successful communications projects for clients required deeper interrogation of the entire business structure and operation. What starts as budget for a two month project building a website stretches into a 6 month strategic consultancy. I needed a break, and I had the offer of a six-week contract working on-site for a department store House of Fraser's ecommerce site in the West End which I accepted. One thing led to another, and 12 months later I finally emerged, ready again for business.

And so it was then that I learned another valuable lesson in business: without momentum and ongoing self promotion and keeping the business profile active and alive - it's difficult to get off to a cold start. Where I was drowning under client demands a couple years earlier - I couldn't drum up a paid project from any new clients. I had put myself out of the loop.

Panic stations. Back to contract work…

It was at this time I was rejected by an agency recruiter who was little older than my years in this business - on the basis that my experience as a web developer counted little against the latest new JavaScript library. He said I needed to show I had React.js "in production". React had ascended sharply in popularity in 2017 - the months I was under cover of contract work rescuing a legacy JQuery project. I don't know if it was really the React requirement, or just bad timing, but finding a contract was proving more difficult than I'd hoped.

I know that finding work is a little bit about luck, and about meeting the right people at the right time, and keeping options open and conversations going, and keep on keeping on. But every day that went by without positive leads, no matter how experienced or full of self belief I may have been, felt like a knock. I was beginning to worry.

And indeed it was a casual conversation at the pub that turned things around. My friend Simon, one of the co-organisers at LNUG said after one meetup that he'd put a word in for me at his company - they were often hiring. OK. Sounded good. A couple email exchanges and an interview later, I was hired on a new contract as a remote developer at NearForm - one of the best companies and working arrangements I could imagine.

NearForm is stacked with amazing developers, some of whom are working on core parts of the open source technologies we use daily. Joining the team and working with such talent has been a brilliant boost for me. The two and half years have seen some hard work - I have learned more than any other workplace - and I have loved every day of work since joining.

Working remote with a team distributed across the world has been a learning curve on its own - the etiquette of video meetings takes some getting used to, the Slack channels need to be tamed, the languages and accents of co-workers need to be understood- and all without direct eye contact and body language… Technical problems can fester if we don't reach out for help and clarification - and as soon as we do team members are there to help each other. NearForm work hard as employers to keep the human side alive - and to keep it interesting. Working remotely can be lonesome and we make sure to support each other. We meet annually as a company and sometimes more often as teams. We are encouraged to keep life and work in balance. We are valued and trusted.

This is my life as a developer now. In balance.

admataz lives on as my online monicker and the place for me to share my ideas and experiments with code.