Can I volunteer as a developer for a startup?


1

I'm unemployed, not having luck finding a job. I'm not a people person and I always mess up interviews. Also when you freelance for many years its difficult.

I'm not really materialistic and I would like to help out a startup. Why should I volunteer to write opensource when I can really have my work put into massive action! I am pretty good with Linux, .net, Jquery and PHP. Not saying I'm the worlds best but if I'm told what to do I get it done in reasonable time. I'm currently spending hours learning Rails, Ive written a few threaded webcrawler/scraper apps in pure Ruby. Ideally I would like to do something real world in Rails, but I'm fine with something I have more expertise in.

I write objective code with unit tests and developed some interesting frameworks. My code is fast, optimized and I'm not afraid of any SQL, Regex, etc.

I've developed some services on my own but I need a bit of direction to succeed, that is why I don't do it on my own. I also don't care for the business side of things. I do some stuff on my own but I'm jumping from thing to thing and never get a solid project done. I'm desperate for guidance on good idea. I have no trouble with an NDA.

Is there a site place or place that you can submit your credentials to volunteer? I've sent my resume into a few startups offering to volunteer and I was never taken seriously. One was in SF and was very interested but I looked at the rents and can't afford to live there. He said I can sleep in the office and get freebie food but I really don't want to move cross country there. I wanted to telecommute but they wanted someone onsite.

P.S. Maybe I should reword it a bit, down the line I would want some sort of equity share, but initially I would consider doing it free if it was something challenging and I could venture into a new skill area. I guess I described the ultimate "NetSlave" situaton, there was actually a book by that title.

Recruiting

asked Oct 25 '11 at 05:10
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Len
376 points
  • Do you have a contact e-mail address? – J Locke 9 years ago
  • check the profile for contact info. If anyone is interested I will discuss technology in general terms (**not ideas**) before proceeding. – Len 9 years ago
  • I'm looking for a developer. We would pay for an initial project. We are in NY as well. – Tim J 9 years ago
  • @rubyfanboi your profile doesn't contain any contact info. – Joseph Fung 9 years ago
  • Ok, I added a public contact email :). I also got two more startup interviews so I will see how that goes. – Len 9 years ago

4 Answers


1

It may not be as easy as you think. Companies may be wary of you because you can leave any time and they may be required by law to pay minimum wages or be affected by other laws.

I think you are underselling yourself and you could get a paying job. If you want to volunteer look for a charity/not-for-profit that needs technical help. Your goals should be learning how to communicate with people, being part of a team etc (not learning more programming) so you will be better at interviews. Remember - you impressed them enough to get to the interview stage.

And don't be scared of the business side, you might surprise yourself and want to start your own business.

answered Oct 25 '11 at 11:14
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James
1,231 points
  • I'm not that much of an action taker, but I should change. – Len 9 years ago

1

Can I volunteer as a developer for a startup?

You could volunteer, but you should ask for equity instead. Most likely the startup will go nowhere and your equity will be worthless, but that's how things are done in business.

I am pretty good with Linux, .net, Jquery and PHP. Not saying I'm the worlds best but if I'm told what to do I get it done in reasonable time.

It sounds like you have some solid skills but either aren't familiar with the professional software world or haven't yet found your niche. The thing you need to do is start meeting people face-to-face. Back in the dark ages, people dressed up in suits and went to job fairs. Nowdays the technology world is so mainstream that you can often find relevant local meetups that offer technical discussions and sometimes free food. Pick subjects that you are comfortable with, and you will find your social anxiety melts away quickly. Dress casually, no one wears suits anymore.

I do some stuff on my own but I'm jumping from thing to thing and never get a solid project done. I'm desperate for guidance on good idea.

Find a mentor. Find someone technical who you respect and has a solid track record of completing projects. Ask to setup a mentorship relationship. Meet every week if you can, or every month if that's the best you can get. Get advice on how to complete projects. Then start completing projects.
answered Oct 25 '11 at 16:15
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Obscure Robot
111 points
  • Thanks for the info! I have corporate programming skills that are different from startup environments. I did consulting for a while and probably had a startup, but it went nowhere. I attribute it to failure to market the product. Believe it or not I used to teach computer programming and math, but didn't like it :). – Len 9 years ago

1

If you're up for a short bit of travel for a bit, I recommend checking out http://www.startupify.me/ - the founder behind it is taking in another cohort of developers, and it would give you some work experience and some time to experience some startup work too.

I know the space and founder - highly recommended.

answered Oct 25 '11 at 20:12
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Joseph Fung
1,542 points

0

I would recommend post to hacker news with your offer.

http://news.ycombinator.com/

answered Oct 25 '11 at 09:24
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Joel Friedlaender
5,007 points

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