5 Tips for Developers Leaving an In-House Development Team for a Design and Development Firm

A few months ago, I joined the Cloud Construct team, based in Boston. Before I joined the design and web development firm, I worked with an in-house development team. I quickly learned the differences between the two environments. 

First, here's context: At my previous position, I worked as a front-end developer for a company that handled events, seminars, and publications for a few major software technology players. My daily responsibilities included maintaining the websites for the events and seminars. I also designed and created new visual items for those websites. Every once in a while, I got the opportunity to work on a different project, other than my daily responsibilities, but not often. 

Below, I share what I believe every developer should know before they transition working from an in-house development team to a design and web development agency.

Tip #1: You Won't Get Much Downtime

At an in-house development team, I experienced a good amount of downtime.When I worked on a different web project, I was able to use skills I had learned during my downtown. So, while the downtime enabled me to learn new skills for my career, the downside was that I wasn't always busy. Most days dragged on. Yet, at a web design and development firm with multiple clients and high-stake projects, there isn't much downtime. There's so much work to do, that you're challenged and busy. Personally, I like that. One of the first things I noticed when I started working at Cloud Construct is that I always have a project to work on. Most of the time I have several projects and each project comes from a different client. No two days and no two web development projects are ever the same.

Tip #2: You Will Be Challenged

In my previous role, the work itself become repetitive after a while. Plus, the code was outdated. As most developers will understand, I didn't feel challenged. Plus, most projects I worked on didn't have deadlines, which meant I could work on the project in the final two weeks before it had to launch. There wasn't a sense of urgency or ownership that I have found at Cloud Construct, working on web development projects. After just over two years with the in-house development team, I knew that, due to the slow pace and lack of skills advancement, it was time for a change. When you work on multiple web development projects, whether it's .NET or azure, you are consistently challenged. One day I could be working with new coding languages. Another day I could be trying new techniques with the languages I am proficient with.

Tip #3: You Will Work & Learn Fast

Unlike the in-house development team with its slower pace, I work efficiently at Cloud Construct. Right off the bat I knew things were going to be different here than at my previous job. I had the chance to contract for Cloud Construct before I became a full-time team member, so I was able to check out what it would be like to work at this higher level.I knew when I decided to make this change that I would have to work harder and at a faster pace, but I definitely wanted to give it a try.

Some might consider the transition to have a steep learning curve, but I'm fortunate to be on a web development team that encourages questions. If there is ever a point that I don’t know something or can’t figure it out, I always have someone to help me. I use this to my full advantage, so that one day I can help someone else who is just learning, who needs someone to come to with questions. 

Tip #4: You Will Gain Valuable Skills

Beyond new coding languages, I'm learning how to work cross-functionally. Cloud Construct uses agile project management to manage all its web development projects. Which means there is a project manager assigned to every project, to help keep the team moving forward. And this is a very good thing, let me tell you. Overall, I have gained valuable skills and knowledge working this way, in iterations with smart UX designers, engineers, account managers, and stakeholders.

Tip #5: You Will Have Fun

The change from in-house to a web development firm has been perfect for me as a front-end developer. Not only am I evolving my skills and learning quickly, I am also having fun. What used to feel like long, tedious days are now days passing quickly because I enjoy the work. I enjoy the team and projects I work on. I wake up looking forward to the day ahead, because I know it will give me a chance to learn something new while being part of a team that enjoys collaborating -- and that's an awesome thing.

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About the Author:

Alex is a Front-End Developer with a degree in Graphic Design from Umass Dartmouth and a Graduate Certificate in Web and Interaction Design. Using his design skills he has created many customer facing websites. He enjoys the fast paced technology industry and is always looking to expand his skillset.