How I Got Started: Luke, Senior Developer

One of our favourite ongoing features on the Artisan Recruitment website is our A-List interview series with our incredible candidates about how they got started in their chosen fields. Today we're joined by Luke, a talented Senior Developer, who has very graciously sat down with us virtually to answer our queries about his work life!


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How did you first get experience when you started out in the industry?
I started building websites for fun in the mid 90s, but didn't start doing it for serious money until the early 2000s, when I had a career change from engineering in my mid/late 20s. I'd just done a diploma of multimedia, but I was struggling to get an interview, let alone a job. My first paid experience was doing small freelance gigs for a design studio near my day job. They were getting trickle down jobs for some biggish clients so I got some brand names into my folio. That lead to websites for friends of friends businesses which lead to contracting.

Who helped you, and how?
I hustled and everyone I worked with gave me advice along the way. But you have to help yourself. Now super-agent Ian helps me and I don't have to worry about anything except being awesome.

If you could go back in time and have a chat to the younger you getting started in your career, what would be your advice to yourself?
Talk yourself up and explain what you are doing respectfully. Don't assume your work speaks for itself, if you do an amazing job with no fuss, people will think it was easy. Assume people are idiots and have no appreciation of how brilliant you are. Even if you are talking to experienced people, it's a good habit.
Tell people when they have disappointed you - ie a client who didn't pay you on time or a coworker that didn't pull their weight. Tell them why so that difficult conversions become easier.

What mistakes do you think you made along the way?
Getting pissed off at bad clients and cutting ties without telling them why.

What resources could you recommend?
Mix with your peers, find a local meetup group and go along to their events occasionally. Stack Exchange is useful.

Are you specialised?
Not really, but I only do front-end work for money. But my specialty is probably getting dropped into a gig and being productive from the first day.

How did you find your specialization?
I was a Flash developer in 2000s, I enjoyed the combination of coding, animation and visual creativity. When Flash died front-end was the logical place to transfer my skills to.

Did you intentionally start out down the path to this specialisation?
No, after another career change in my early 30s, into air traffic control - which failed - an opportunity for a developer opened up at the same organisation so I took it.

If NO, how did you transition?
This role was Flash heavy, and I had previous Flash experience so it went from there.

Did you have to start from scratch?
I didn't think so, but in reality - the difference from building banners or web sites to full applications, meant I pretty much did.

What resources could you recommend?
Do some hackathons, they are a good way of trying new ways of doing things and there are usually super geeks around to help you learn.

Have you ever applied for a job and been declined because of your experience?
Yep, a long time ago.

What was the reason given?
Not enough experience

How did you deal with this?
I kept trying and finally got some experience with a local design studio. The industry has matured a lot since I started. If I was starting out now, my first step would be to directly approach the head of digital at a big agency for experience, or the owner of a smaller agency. Most of them are actually nice people so just find them and shoot them an email or call them, tell them your situation and ask of they have any junior gigs or jobs you can do. You'll get straight onto big brands you can brag to your friends and family about and will look great in your folio.


Thanks heaps to the wonderful Luke for sharing his insights and wisdom about finding his footing as a developer in the industry, we're so appreciative!


And don't forget, if you're on LinkedIn and keen to stay in the loop as far as great tips on finding your dream job and hiring incredible candidates is concerned, head to our LinkedIn Groups page - we'd love to have you join our community!