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I had another interview yesterday. Before attending it, I checked out the company’s website and was immediately impressed. I was not disappointed when I arrived at the company’s premises; the office was bright, spacious, warm and the atmosphere created by the staff was one of professionalism, hard working, yet sociable.The guy who interviewed me for the job was a clever, polite, nice guy who explained to me that even though he was looking for a more experienced .NET developer, after looking at my CV, was intrigued by the mix of my skills. One question that I have been asked during my previous week of job hunting by recruiters is how whether I see myself as a web developer or software developer. Given my academic background I’d say I was software developer but over the last 12 months I have gone down the web developer path. I can never give a straight answer because I think I’m both, though obviously have little commercial experience of non-web development roles.

What is a web developer?

I class a web developer as one who writes the mark-up, does battle with CSS to get the presentation looking right in the popular browsers, and enhances usability with a dash of JavaScript. Sometimes it is the same developer who brings the web site to life with server-side programming. The latter role requires a distinct set of skills from those required for client side programming, typically application design, database design, SQL, authentication, etc… It seems a lot more complex than client side coding and this is why lots of developers cross over to web tier, write a bit of HTML, CSS and JavaScript and says “hey, what’s the big deal?” PPK refers to these type of web developers as “new amatuers“. I’d agree with this. Typically, new amateurs will not know about or care enough about semantic HTML, unobtrusive JavaScript and complete separation of content and presentation, and why these points matter. JavaScript is often seen as a language not worth learning.

I am a web developer

Over the past year I’ve learnt quite a bit about coding accessible web sites. The benefits are numerous and, business aside, the web should be available to all members of society, whatever disability a user may have. Also, web sites offering a service must be accessible according to UK law. Local councils and government departments have been moving over standards-based web sites for the past couple of years.

So with this experience under my belt, when a recruiter attempts to pigeon hole me, I hope to convince him or her that I am happy on the client or server side, and will happily bridge the gap between the two. I know a lot of developers often write complete web applications themselves, but I think, from experience, many developers act professionally on the server side and forget it on the client side.

I want to be a “serious” programmer and a web developer

I’m eager to get back into a serious development architecture, like .NET or Java. But convincing potential employers that I can return to the server side is not easy given my lack of experience. There are so many .NET jobs on recruitment sites it’s frustrating. Frustrating because from my limited experience I know that I can do it. So my angle in is two-pronged. First, I have decent skills as a web developer, in that I code to standards and secondly, I have proven during my academic years that I’m intelligent enough to construct well built applications. Four years of Java is enough for anyone to know what they’re doing. Give me the tools and little time to learn the nuances of the language and I’ll get on just fine.

The interview

So back to the job in question. The interview went well. On the one hand he spoke of his reservations about hiring an inexperienced .NET developer, and on the other he said I definitely had something to offer the company in terms of web development and the fact that I was championing the web accessibility cause. He tabled the idea of a 3 month trial in which to prove myself, a risky thing to do from both sides of the table. He needed to talk this over with his co-directors.

This morning I got a call from Alex, the recruitment consultant. I had managed to convince enough for me to come in on Monday and complete a sample project based around an in-house product and a simple set of objectives orientated around ASP.NET. I am relishing this opportunity. I 100% agree with this method of interviewing. The employer is reducing the risk of employing the wrong person for the advertised role and the employee has the opportunity to check out the working conditions, the people and the bosses.

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2 Comments

    • Jen
    • Posted Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 10:55 pm
    • Permalink

    That sounds like an auspicious interview – remember you are interviewing them as well as vice versa. When I go for another job, one of my major requirements is that they get me to write some code in my interview (unless I go down the slippery management slope by then)… a company that cares about quality can have me!

    I personally take the opposite side – I started off having to do all the CSS/JavaScript stuff and moved gradually to the ‘server’ side. I agree that having nice accessible markup, valid and degrading javascript, CSS et al is important it’s just not really what I want to do.

    Maybe we should launch a MicroISV!? You can do the front end stuff, I can do the back end stuff and Steinunn can write the company blog! Hurrah. Just need an Idea I suppose!

    • Jen
    • Posted Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 11:08 pm
    • Permalink

    Oh and 3months trial period is completely normal! Think it is a get out clause for you as well!


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