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WebRookie -- Diaries: Having A Job In A Web Department

WebRookie's Story

After many months of classes in html, Photoshop and graphic concepts, I started looking for intern work in order to start using my new skills and learn about the web business. I became an intern for a local company, working on a prototype site for a client. It was free training and I was paid nothing for traveling to meetings and working on the site. If it sold I might receive part of the profit. This process involved learning a wiziwig editor that the company used for all its web site construction. After working for a few months and being told by the company owner that there was a big learning curve in learning the editor (he was never able to teach me, he just knew how he could make it work), I suddenly stopped getting answers to my last two e-mails. Yep, I was dropped, never found out why, not even a "no thanks" or anything. Unfortunately I had finally figured out how the editor worked and had succeeded in producing the effects the owner wanted.

Lesson one: Don't let your expectations get too high. Give yourself a break - you are new at this. Believe in yourself - who else will if you don't? Learn whatever you can from the experience, carry something positive away from the situation. And...when you own your own company be sure to give someone new a break. Always remember where you started from.

Next I was hired for "contract work" through a company in another state. This part-time position became the owner calling me six to seven days a week at all hours, whenever it worked for him. Fine, I thought, hey gotta do it. I worked on a prototype navigational topframe for one of his sites. I also created original graphics for the prototype, logos and buttons, created the html and even was told part of my duties would be to do maintenance on the various sites. I was supposed to fix code in pages already made with MS FrontPage. And I was to touch up and fix graphics from other sites that needed improvement. This meant using quite a bit of my PhotoShop skills. The owner kept changing what he wanted for the navigational page, which I gladly did.

I was told there was "plenty of work", and was never given a limit on hours, etc. In three weeks I ended up putting in 48 hours...not much for that amount of time. Oh yeah, I was getting paid $10.00 an hour. Checking out rates in my area I found that interns received $10.00-$12.00 an hour, so this guy was getting a pretty good deal. It was also understood that I was a beginner and unexperienced.

Well...I turned in my first time card after the first project was completed (three weeks) and his words were "shock" in describing how he thought my hours should only total 20, and how my being "new" slowed things down. I had a feeling I wasn't the first person he'd said this to.

The best part was when he suggested that I could accept payment in full and we would call it quits...or, I could accept $180.00 less than my hours totaled and keep working for him. He also stated that they did not use contracts but paid by the project.

Afterwards I sent him an e-mail detailing the problem of not having a contract of agreement from him and my increasing lack of trust in the situation. I asked him how I could be assured I would continue working on the project if there were no contract? Of course he sent back a very short, terse note saying my check for payment in full was in the mail. Here's a link for legal guidelines to read up about contract work.

Lesson two: Figure out what direction you want to take. Do you want to work under contract or work full-time for a company? Are you going to create your own company? Will this involve scripting, design, graphics, database or other special skills? Get a clear picture of what you want and where you want to go. Safeguard yourself. Learn all you can. Check out the contracts link on the Resources page and the many other links listed there. As the site builds, I will provide as much information I can on what to watch out for. Keep your self respect. It's worth more than a few less dollars to work for someone who chooses not to operate with integrity in mind. And lastly, keep your sense of humor, you may need it along the way.

Job Update: January 1999
After a year of classes, hard work and learning all I could about the web, I'm now working for a well-known company in their web department! I'll share my experiences as I learn more about what it's like doing the "real thing." Believe in yourself...it happened for me.



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Copyright 1998 by D. Goetsch, WebRookie