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Old 08-28-2018, 02:07 AM   #1
Our House
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Finding Work As An Apprentice

Hi All,

Does anyone here know a good way to work as a programmer's assistant from home? General computer work is also an option, although something with room for advancement is preferred. Working with a small to medium sized business is also preferred over a large company.

Some Background:

Overall, I am fairly computer savvy, with 20+ years of Windows experience (no Mac), as well as familiarity with MS Word & Excel, Photoshop, networking, social media, and a bunch of other common apps/sites/programs.

As far as coding goes, I started working with MS Access databases in the late 90s. From there, I got into playing online poker and started writing AutoHotKey scripts for my own use and to help other poker buddies. After that was HTML for designing simple websites. I got a dedicated server in the mid 2000s and started working with SQL, Linux, cPanel, etc. and moved more into web development, picking up some basic PHP and JS for my forum's vBulletin plugins and add-ons. The next few websites were CMS-based (rather than from scratch) and were created using Drupal, which expanded my PHP and SQL abilities.

Everything above was learned primarily for the small businesses I've owned or managed, so I don't have an ordinary job resume or certification. I'm currently unemployed, and don't have money to lay out, but I do have time (day, night, even overnight) to commit to projects. The main issue is that my programming skills are somewhat rusty and outdated. It's been a few years since writing or editing any code, but I've heard it all comes back quickly - like riding a bike. I started learning Python recently and there's definitely a familiar feeling, even though it's a language I've never used before.

Feel free to PM if you have more personal questions or if you don't want to reply publicly about your work or something you have in mind. Thank you in advance for your help.

Cliffs: I'm currently unemployed with some (outdated) programming knowledge and over 20 years of general PC & tech experience. I'm wondering where to go to find home based work as an apprentice/assistant until my coding skills are back to speed, and current enough to be a real programmer.
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Old 08-28-2018, 12:44 PM   #2
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

I don't know that apprenticeships are really a thing, but there are going to be junior developer positions. You might want to look into doing work as a contractor, probably via a company that supplies contractors to businesses. There's a recent phenomenon of websites essentially offering ad hoc contracting work. I personally feel that these are somewhat exploitative but people want to work for them, so...

Let me see if I can remember the name of the one I worked with... a company I used to work for got bought and they replaced everyone with this online contracting company.

Ugh I can't find it. upwork.com is an example of what I mean though
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Old 08-29-2018, 09:17 AM   #3
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

Thanks for the reply, Rusty. That's similar to what I'm looking for. I created a Fiverr profile a little while back and, upon choosing categories for a listing, quickly realized I wasn't qualified enough to handle projects on my own yet.

Is there anything more steady than freelance work that offers an opportunity to improve programming skills for the future at the same time? For personal reasons, it needs to be home-based, and taking 6-12 months off to train isn't an option financially.

Quote:
there are going to be junior developer positions
Can you elaborate?

Working together with a programmer (or team) would be ideal. They could pass on whatever tasks are too basic for their time, but too complicated for AI or custom/built-in functions. Kind of like a "virtual assistant" for programming.
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Old 08-29-2018, 11:23 AM   #4
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

A junior developer is someone with limited job experience, but some programming skills. It's not really easy for me to tell where you are in that sense - there are probably things you know that many junior devs wouldn't know, but also probably things they would know that you don't. That's the danger of an eclectic background.

Anyway, there are places that hire junior devs. I would be a little surprised if they would be into having you work from home. And honestly, most places wouldn't even be interested in free labor if it was going to take a significant amount of time to hand-hold.

I'm not sure what the right course of action for you. Maybe low-cost or free online courses that aim towards having a somewhat complete understanding of some specific technology stack (like say, learning to write javascript apps in a particular framework, or learning to write backend APIs in a particular framework, etc)
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Old 08-29-2018, 11:40 AM   #5
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

I'd like to offer one other observation. Well, maybe 2.

When I started working as a programmer, there was a real shortage of them. So, we hired almost anyone who showed interest and maybe a little intelligence, and spent 3-6 months training them into developers. Some of these I've known for a long time and went on to careers in programming, others left and I don't know how it turned out.

I haven't really seen that since in my jobs. We do internships (which might be right for you except that you lack a few things, such as affiliation with a university or bootcamp or something, and you want to work from home) but we don't really hire junior devs, much less raw recruits.

I have a little bit of a theory on this though, although I could be wrong. I have worked for 20 years, and I've noticed that most jobs, everyone is "about my age", like 90% of the guys there are +/- 5 years from my age. My theory is that every business has an age comfort level and they tend to interview and hire guys about that age.

So when I was in my 20s, there were places that wanted to hire guys in their 30s, and they just passed me right over, and so forth. So I think there might still be places that hire junior (or young) developers, and they just don't pop up on my radar, if that makes sense. But unfortunately, since they're not on my radar, it's hard for me to be sure about that.
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Old 08-30-2018, 02:30 AM   #6
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

You're right, the two big roadblocks are the lack of a formal education and the need for hand holding. Neither would exist for more than a couple of months, but employers can't rely on trusting that to be the case, and they also don't favorably view applicants in their early 40s without a solid resume.

There are other home-based computer jobs available. What I'm trying to avoid is taking something unrelated and just slightly above minimum wage (such as customer service, telemarketing, data entry, etc.), then constantly adding hours in order to make ends meet, eventually surrendering the availability & opportunity to pursue a programming career.

Thanks again for the advice. I'll keep looking around.
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Old 08-30-2018, 09:57 AM   #7
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

Well, you're not wrong about applicants in their 40s but the real problem is you want to work from home. As someone with a lot of experience and track record, I have still gotten pushback about working from home. I can successfully complete project after project after project and there is still always someone who's suspicious that I'm not actually getting work done.

It is a real hard sell to say "I need a lot of hand holding but also I won't be here so you can't hold my hand"

If you'd like to learn and try some python stuff I'd be happy to help you out. If you want to work on an actual project I usually have some kicking around. My current python-web-project thing is a website that gathers stats from an online video game and tries to present them in useful and novel ways. It's python backend and javascript (React) frontend.
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Old 08-30-2018, 08:43 PM   #8
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

PM sent. Thanks.
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Old 09-05-2018, 03:40 PM   #9
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

Quote:
Working together with a programmer (or team) would be ideal. They could pass on whatever tasks are too basic for their time, but too complicated for AI or custom/built-in functions. Kind of like a "virtual assistant" for programming.
I'm not sure that's a thing (read: I'm pretty sure that's not a thing). You're asking to be given jobs and you will hand back code to people who will at least look over it.

In such a scenario any expert programmer is liable to rip your code apart and redo it themselves. Coding is an industry. If you're working as a team then coding gudelines, quality standards and knowledge of current coding patterns is a must. Where teams cooperate without being in the same location that only works amongst equals (and even then not particularly well).

The reason why your idea probably won't fly is:
You're asked to be given the basic jobs. This creates a lot of work on the other end in terms of requirement engineering (writing some kind of document so that its clear exactly what you're supposed to deliver and when)
If you think this over you'll realize that the effort of writing such a document quickly outpaces the effort for an expert programmer of just doing the basic task themselves.

Best way is to really get stuck in with a team (on site) and have them bring you up to speed so that you can start implementing on an equal level with them.
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Old 09-25-2018, 05:16 PM   #10
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

I would suggest you find an open-source project and start to contribute to that. You won't get paid, but it's a good learning experience and it'll build up a git repo for you that you can point to in your job applications.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:56 AM   #11
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Re: Finding Work As An Apprentice

coding bootcamp.
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