Since I got back from HackerSchool (which was absolutely amazing by the way) I’ve begun taking up jobs as a freelance developer. While it’s tempting to apply for “real” jobs, and I did interview with some that resulted from contacts from HackerSchool, I’m not entirely sure where I want to be and there seems to be some adventure in going on your own. I like adventures.
Running on your own
Getting up to speed as an independent contractor so far have been both a fun and scary experience. It’s certainly a mind-shift and explaining what you do suddenly feels a lot more complicated. It’s scary in the sense that I have no idea what project I’ll be working on next. But that is also the best part about it.
Initially there was a bunch of paper work that needs to be sorted out. Luckily in Sweden you can do almost everything online and I already had the necessary bank and payment accounts in place. The most annoying aspect is figuring out all the terminology. First time going through the documentation took me quite some time.
Things I’ve noticed so far
I keep track of time much more closely than before. Lyndsey, a fellow HackerSchooler, recommend HarvestApp and I really like it. Especially for it’s interface and uncomplicated features. I have it set up to record four different types of time: Meetings, Programming, Architecture/Documentation, and Pro-bono work. Each slot of time that I record I annotate with a short note on what work was done. The detailed report is attached as an appendix with the invoice sent later. The level of detail may not be interesting for those paying, but it comes from my father complaining about the consultants he hires and their lack of transparency.
Since I bill by the hour I’m also much more aware on how I spend my time. Some people have warned me that this may wear off over time and that you do not feel as conscious about it later. We’ll see how it goes.
As far as I can tell there’s a level of freedom too. This is likely more in my head than actually so. The responsibility compared to being employed might even be higher. But it feels kind of nice in a way to know that it’s ok to take only a 60% gig and have time left for your own projects.
A note on interviewing
I absolutely loved Stripe’s interview process and more companies should look at them for inspiration. The first phone call was a fun pairing exercise and my interviewer was friendly and talkative. After a day or two their HR representative invited me to San Francisco for a full day of more coding and talking. The interviews resembled the phone screen in tone and style with a few exceptions. Although they didn’t make an offer I’m really happy I got to experience Stripe’s interview process. They are super nice and if you like them you should consider sending your application. The only thing that I miss is more feedback as to why they did not give an offer, but I suspect there are all kinds of legal and time consuming issues with doing that. In contrast, Google’s and Palantir’s interview processes are not nearly as fun. Someday I should write a guide for interviewing candidates from the perspective of the candidate.