Being a web developer or designer is a great job. Working full-time doing the things you love and having the ability to work freelance on the side is a plus. But being a college student looking for placement, or fresh out of school and looking for your first full time job can be stressful. Not knowing exactly what to look for can cause some problems, and potentially even hamper your future in some cases working for others. So what do you look for when you are searching for a placement or your first full-time job?
Having went through this in the past, I had no guidance of what to look for. Applying for several jobs over the internet job boards, I found a small company hiring developers with little to no experience, and offering the job through a local internship program. I thought this was a great opportunity so I took it. In the beginning, it was great. I learned quite a few things while working at this small company.
- Client Relations
- Project Management
But what I didn’t notice at the time was that some of the methods I was using were actually setting me up for some difficulty in the future.
Bad coding habits, project management methods that could seem somewhat wrong in most cases, missing deadlines, using unheard of methods for client interaction, etc.
When you choose your first job you should be looking for the following:
A Great Online Presence
If you notice a company hiring through online job banks, do some research. Follow the links to their websites, look through their portfolios to see the kind of work they are currently producing. Also, check their position on search engines, and if they have a good standing currently on Google, Yahoo, etc. Don’t just check their website, but also a site or two in their portfolio. This will give you a great understanding of the kind of work they are capable of teaching you how to produce.
How does their markup look like?
Does their website’s markup validate? If not, is it at least clean and presentable? You want to make sure that you will not be picking up horrible habits with your markup. Allowing yourself to get lazy and sloppy with code could hamper your future with other potential job offers.
Some of the sites you work on for your first employer could possibly be used as examples of your work for the future, so you want to make sure you do well and are following the standards.
How many people are currently employed with the company?
You can find this out in your first interview with the employer. They love when you ask questions about the company and show interest. If the company has a very little amount of people working for them (2 or 3), this could show that there could not be too much guidance for you to learn and expand your knowledge. Do they have separate development teams and are you potentially going to be hired as one of the members of a certain team? You have to make sure there is someone above you which you can learn from.
How long has this company been in business?
If this is a new company, they could have the possibility of not being around long… If this job is something you would like to last long and be secure, this could be a key point in your decision. If they have been around for several years, keep in mind their portfolio that you have had a look at, does it reflect this? Or does it reflect that they have been around for quite some time, and not have had the time to keep up on their development skills and advance their own knowledge to become a better company. This could be a perfect reflection of your future as well with this company, not moving forward with your own knowledge base.
According to a study by the U.S. Small Business Association, only 2/3 of all small business startups survive the first
Having dealt with several of these issues myself, I have had to recover from it by building my own portfolio and working on certain bad habits that I had developed during my time with the company. Making sure every detail of my designs is exact, and when being marked up being that much more precise with the development even if I don’t happen to be the one doing the current mark up. Working with other designers and developers has been a great pleasure, I have learned so much from them and they have helped me refine the skills that I do have.
Share your experiences from your first web design or development job, I’d love to hear about them.