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I’m a front-end developer (fifteen years as a Flash / browser game and front-end developer) with limited CMS/backend for my market, which is a mid-sized city with not an abundance of front-end developer jobs. I’ve taken a couple months to build and polish a portfolio website, obviously to present some notable projects, but also to refamiliarize and update myself in ReactJS (a web technology). Since then I've been on the job hunt, which hasn't been straightforward, since everything requires either Wordpress or some backend) The employment gap from portfolio development might be another complicating factor. Money is a non-issue in the short term. I just need get busy again ASAP (but continue my job search, and hope to get hired).

I’m confident I can productively knock out billable work with any company, but I can see where issues arise in my perceived hireability.

So I was wondering... would it be so bad to:

  1. Offer my skills to an agency for free? Basically volunteer/intern for them for say, a month to demonstrate my work and ethic.

  2. Offer to start out under contract for a specified duration, maybe for a rate lower than would be expected to start at.

  3. Just plain tell them you can start inexpensively (or that getting back to work takes priority over salary).

Strategies may include an understanding that you expect to advance quickly, get up to speed with whatever I need to, maybe hinting that I probably will be worth employment or a raise soon once I’m seeming productive. I would probably apply first, wait to hear back that I was turned down, then ask.

Are any of these or a combination a good idea, or a bad idea?

  • What did you do prior to portfolio building? – Matthew Gaiser Jan 27 at 6:13
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    Before that I was working for a web advertising agency as a front-end developer. – BBaysinger Jan 27 at 6:15
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    So you are basically a past developer who took a break? – Matthew Gaiser Jan 27 at 6:16
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    Add all this to the question. I was under the impression you were a new grad/bootcamp grad when this started. – Matthew Gaiser Jan 27 at 6:25
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    Ok, done I think. – BBaysinger Jan 27 at 6:29
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Offer my skills to an agency for free? Basically volunteer/intern for them for say, a month to demonstrate my work and ethic.

IMHO, I wouldn't recommend working for free, since its as good as starting as a fresher, because even if you did, how will you expect a comparable salary to your experience, even when they start to pay?

Offer to start out under contract for a specified duration, maybe for a rate lower than would be expected to start at.

I would suggest that keep it as a worst-case scenario if you get an opportunity where a company is ready to give you exposure to some backend stuff they want to be done but with less pay, take it as a learning opportunity for a short term.

Just plain tell them you can start inexpensively (or that getting back to work takes priority over salary).

Don't undersell yourself.

I would probably apply first, wait to hear back that I was turned down, then ask.

There's no need to think like you WILL be turned down!

My Suggestions:

  • Since you're from JS background, you can learn Node.js which can be used for backend development.

  • You can be a freelancer, apply to some websites (freelancer(dot)com) to even do React.js, etc. stuff that you already know for some earning. Meanwhile, you can learn Node.js to ultimately try for a full-time opportunity.


In a nutshell, try going for a freelancing or a part-time job for some money. Meanwhile, learn some backend language and then apply for interviews.

Don't worry, you are gonna rock it!

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    +1 TL;DR do contract work and learn a back end. Most tech hiring doesn't get "someone with exactly the tech we want," everyone has to learn something. – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jan 27 at 19:55

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