The New Homeless: Aspiring Web Developer Ends Up on San Francisco's Streets

Tough times for web developers?

The descent into homelessness can occur with terrifying speed. For Mike, a 33-year-old aspiring Web developer, it happened after an emergency loan from a relative suddenly fell through, driving his family out of a motel and onto the streets of San Francisco in September.

His wife and two kids were lucky to get a bed at a shelter, but there was no room for Mike (he asked us not to disclose his last name). So he ended up spending four nights in Golden Gate Park, a sprawling urban greenscape that, while popular with tourists and locals alike during the day, can be dangerous after dark.

Web development is a job that’s just too damned easy to outsource to developing countries.

If I had a teenage son/daughter and they told me that they wanted to become a web developer, I would smack them upside the head.

If you have a family, are the sole wage-earner and don’t have funds to weather a rainy quarter, if not a rainy half, you should really look at your financial arrangements. Industry is pretty immaterial.


I read the article and went further and read the comments from the article as well. That was pretty shocking!! Especially since there has been a growth of various web 2.0 companies in the SF Bay Area. It’s like there’s this rosy picture of the web industry and then this article which exposes the underbelly.

And so, I’d like to know what steps I can take to avoid going down this guy’s unfortunate path.

This is where my education is going:
I know that I can’t really cut it ONLY as a web developer, (unless I’m someone who’s been doing it for years since the 90s) and so that’s why I’m pursuing a degree in corporate communications and learning PR/PR writing. I’m at an internship which involves light web production (updating templates with Joomla) and there is no guarantee that this will lead to a full-time position.

On top of that I’m deciding between a minor in marketing/selling or a “global business/entrepreneurship” minor. Based upon what I’m learning, how could I keep myself employed in web-related careers? No way am I going to be a hard-core PHP programmer. I know who’s already applied for those jobs…

Thanks for posting this article. It’s a wake up call.

I don’t really think it’s explicitly relative to web design, irrespective of industry people are going unemployed. But it’s a wake-up call to anyone who thinks that the web is bulletproof in this economy, businesses come and go all the time and you really have to struggle at times to get through the bad days, but in all fairness I will round things off by saying that usually when people suddenly find themselves in such situations (whether their fault or otherwise) it’s less to-do with their job title and more relevant to their lifestyle. While I feel for the guy I do wonder whether he had considered saving in case a time came when he couldn’t get work, after all, it’s one of the first things most freelancers learn, never bet all your cash on a contract coming through, it’s essential to save for those days when business is slim. :slight_smile:

PS: That article says he wasn’t a web developer, he was trying for a career change and got caught short when his part time job dried up while he got his degree. If anything it was rather a silly move to drop a well paying job to clock up a massive bill to get his degree and on top of that try and push into an industry well known for being highly competitive… smack bang in the middle of a recession. If you want to change careers, wait till you can either afford to or the economy is less fragile.

In an Economic Crisis diploma don’t count much, only real practical skills.

That’s just plain wrong, sure we need skilled individuals however we also need educated people, even in this economy (or in despite of it)… or would you prefer a doctor (or other medical professional) who can give out pills but doesn’t know what their doing because they don’t have their license to practice medicene?

This story reminds me why I’m a firm believer of the days of a sole income provider are over in a family. If you have dual incomes and hopefully the couple would have jobs in different industries, it would lessen the chances of a financial disaster.

It sounds like the chef didn’t have enough money saved up and started to make the switch during the beginning of the recession. Unfortunately, it sounds like he brought some of this on himself.

I think it is going to take sometime, but I think outsourcing tech jobs might start to slow down. I’ve read plenty of stories of bad code produced by outsourcing. I’ve also wondered if the money saved from outsourcing is even worth it for companies.

Please remember that political discussions are not allowed on SitePoint. I’ve had to remove some posts that strayed off topic. Thanks!

That just sounds funny coming from a forum dealing primarily with web development.

I’m no web developer.

But I can appreciate the irony. :wink:

Being a web developer can be and should be a great thing, but only when the developer is not relying solely on corporate jobs. There are lots of opportunities out there for a developer to create his own thing and flying by his own wings.

To be fair, it did say he was aspiring, which means he probably didn’t have a hope in hades of landing a job in this industry without experience.

Tough thing to switch career during a recession.

Web Development is something you try out to see if it works as a stable source of income, otherwise it is time to move on. It is very much like starting a business. It may or may not work out, and you may or may not have the type of personality required to keep it going do that your income remains steady. I now believe you have to have a business type mentality to be a web developer for obvious reasons. If you do not have this type of personality then you definitely need to move into something else.

Interesting article. He seems to blame the economy for not being able to find the jobs…which I think is total BS. It seems to indicate that he’s been getting IT interviews but just weren’t able to land the job. Then he says “no one seems to want fresh out of college” excuses… uh~ he was still invited for interview w/ the resume he submitted…they know well that he has 0 experience. It’s sad the way he thinks w/o realizing the truth of “WHY” he can’t get the job. I’m fairly sure he flunk the questions they asked and probably didn’t follow up to know what’s the correct answer. It’s good that he has a degree and that is why he’s getting the interviews…but during the interview… you must demonstrate your skills and not just on paper… People who typically fall in this bucket is for the students who “cheat” to graduate… congrats! you now have a degree and you didn’t learn squat! …not saying he maybe in that category but just to illustrate my point.