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For the past few years I've been "working" at my father's company. My dad's business is in software development, but it's in Field A. I am trained as a software developer, but am focused on Field B - which is totally unrelated.

My initial plan was to set myself up and win my own clients, but run it via my dad's company. Suffice it to say that I was very naive about all of this. Long story short: Things didn't work out very well, and now it's been a few years and I haven't accomplished much: I don't have any noteworthy finished projects under my belt, and was basically just struggling for a few years while my dad supported me. To be fair, I was also clinically depressed for almost a year, which didn't help, but I do want to take responsibility for my mistakes and my naivety.

Anyways. Recently, things started to look better. I have relocated and have been contacted by a few potential clients & recruiters who are interested in hiring me to work on a project. I would like to take this opportunity, but I don't know how to explain the last 2-3 years. I have basically no portfolio, although I have "worked" for a few years, and I am also very aware that it might look bad that I have been employed by my father's company (name of my dad's company = my surname; uncommon surname).

How do I present myself now, how do I save this? I would also rather not mention the depression. I just don't know what to say.

  • That's not "work", you had a job. Doesn't matter if the projects were completed or not. – user1666620 Feb 1 at 16:10
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I'm not sure I see a problem here.

You have 2 - 3 years of experience as a software developer working in your dad's company. The projects you worked on are proprietary; you can't show them off or share them with the companies interviewing you.

This is completely normal. Whether they were a commercial success or not (or whether they were for your benefit vs. the company's or not) doesn't really matter. You still worked on them and likely learned a few things (if nothing else, you learned what doesn't work)

The question is, "can you look the interviewer in the eye and confidently tell them that you will succeed in the role they're looking for?"

As you said, the mental health issues are none of their business. The fact that you were trying to get your own gig running under your dad's umbrella is just noise - not relevant or necessary information.

  • thank you so much for your answer. so i think this already shows how little experience I have: Wouldn't an interviewer ask me what projects I've worked on, what I did exactly and what responsibilities I had? – J. Pasternak Feb 1 at 16:37
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    For someone with only 2 - 3 years experience I'd be looking for technical skills, ability to solve problems/learn on their own, and a good attitude. Figure out how to spin your past in those terms and you will be fine. – Dan Pichelman Feb 1 at 17:20
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There's no need for anything to be completed to be able to list it on your CV - the fact that you worked on them is sufficient to place it on your CV.

If you were trying to work for yourself and it didn't work out, that's the norm for all new companies. Something like 3/4 companies fail in the first 5 years, which is the average length of time it takes a company to become profitable. The fact you were trying it at all is valuable experience which not many people have the opportunity to gain. "Failure" is only truly a failure if you don't learn anything from it.

  • thanks a lot! But I did not only not complete a lot, I just didn't get many projects in the first place, and wasted months on getting somewhere, but then in the end didn't do any coding, but was chasing projects. – J. Pasternak Feb 1 at 16:38

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