Looking forward

This summer, I’ll be wrapping up work on a rather long-term project. (Long-term at least by the standards of a freelancer.) Though the bulk of my assignments are fairly brief in scope, ranging from three to six months, this job has been well over a year in the making.

In a 2-phase implementation, I’ve launched the WordPress-based website of Work for Progress, a employment firm for non-profit organizations. My role included all phases of deployment, including custom UI/UX design, front- and back-end development, and the creation of a complex job board and job application system that interfaces with the client’s remote database.

Sure I’ve built plenty of websites in the past, but with its unique requirements, this assignment gave me the opportunity to learn a lot. A chance to learn new skills, of course, but also to learn about myself.

In my 15 years of freelancing, I’ve worked on nearly one thousand projects with more than a hundred clients. Nearly all of this work arrived at my desk via word of mouth referral (and plenty of repeat business).

So I know that I must be doing something right.

Yet despite—and while I’m humbly grateful for the success of my career thus far—this latest website project made me realize I want more: More challenges, more collaboration, more opportunities for my work to have a bigger impact.

Sustainable growth and professional development is something I routinely struggle with as a freelancer. I find as my experience and skills mature, it’s increasingly difficult to find projects that suit my abilities or satisfy my career pursuits. Understandably, the more substantial projects end up at more fully staffed agencies, better equipped to handle the multiple roles involved in web development. I realized that I will need to discover novel approaches to achieve my goals.

While I’m busy researching new opportunities, a colleague posted on LinkedIn about a relatively new platform called Toptal. Toptal appears to specialize in matching heavily vetted web developers, designers and related professionals with qualified clients working on industrial-scale projects via their Web Engineers Network. This sounded like a potentially good match to me!

So, I signed up with Toptal, filled out a questionnaire, and am now on to the next steps. Those steps include interviews and what appears to be a robust skills assessment. We’ll see if I have what it takes to join their network. And I’m equally excited to discover whether they can connect me to the sort of challenging projects, collaborations and impactful work that I seek.