IT is where it’s at
Andy Daines, pictured here with his son, is part of the IT sector. Here he shares the delights of being freelance…
“I’ve been writing software on a freelance basis since the mid-90s. I work on a full project lifecycle, from gathering requirements from the end users through design, prototyping, implementation, testing and delivery. In my current role I’m also responsible for managing the release schedule for periodic updates of the software suite.
“My first job was working as a junior programmer , which I tolerated for some seven years. Working as a staff programmer, I felt locked into a system of reviews, hierarchy and procedure which seemed to limit my creativity more than encourage it. More and more of my energy was being wasted on suffering company restructures and applying for my own job, yet never being made redundant, so I cried enough.
“The weeks following the bulk postal mail shot of my CV revealed that there was a huge world of opportunity out there and my first interview was like a breath of fresh air. I was offered the job there and then, and that first week and subsequent months on that contract showed me I’d made exactly the right decision.
“If there is a downside to being freelance, it’s the stress of knowing I must remain competitive in knowledge by constantly being abreast of the next big thing in software. As a programmer, it’s especially fast moving compared with management roles, and maintaining marketability is crucial and hard work. Cruising along as permanent staff, knowing you have a good buffer of redundancy and gardening leave if the worst happens isn’t an option.
“Legislation seemingly drawn up by people who have not the first idea of what running a small freelance business involves is also a large challenge and especially frustrating, as it adds nothing to my business. A more positive challenge is appearing on site and working very hard to make sure production starts as soon as humanly possible. There are great expectations of delivery from contractors and it’s crucial for continuity of business not to disappoint.
“The very best thing about being freelance is the complete absence of office politics. You negotiate a contract and sign it. That’s it. There’s none of the ‘permy’ politics, such as another guy doing some similar work getting paid more than you, someone else not pulling their weight, someone getting a sweet ‘working from home’ deal… I’m there under contract to do a job and leave when I’m done. If I feel unhappy with anything it’s my own fault for signing it. It’s also nice to walk away from a contract at the end knowing you’ve done a great job and put it all behind you, take a few days off perhaps, before arriving at a brand new, fresh, exciting challenge baggage-free.”
Interview by Liz Granirer