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Can I be “too young” to get a programming job?
I’m 15 and I want to Freelance

I've always loved programming. I started when I was about 8 with making some silly WinForms applications in VB.Net that basically did nothing. Now, I'm 15 and I would say I'm quite good at C# and I'm reading through Jon Skeet's C# In Depth. I also have some experience with VB, C++ and Assembler (mostly reverse engineering).

I really love coding, which got me wondering about college, what I can study to get into the software business. However, I would like to earn some money now, so I can spend it on better hardware, on development tools or on other hobbies. This is hard because I don't have any work experience nor have I done any programming-related studies. It's also not legal for me to do any freelancing jobs as I'm under the age of 18.

How can I use my current experience at my age to earn some money?

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marked as duplicate by gnat, Ryathal, Walter, GlenH7, JeffO Dec 18 '12 at 15:36

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

It would be great to have downvotes require a message with it. Without a message explaining the reason, the downvote wouldn't be registered. I've seen far too many unexplained downvotes recently. –  Juha Untinen Dec 18 '12 at 13:39
@JuhaUntinen this has been debated on meta for a long time, and the consensus is that it is a bad idea for a lot of reasons (meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/a/2690/34327 for example) –  Simon Dec 18 '12 at 13:46
@lesderid - This seems like a polling question. –  Ramhound Dec 18 '12 at 13:46
You should consider re-formulating your question. As it currently stands, it asks for a debate. E.g. someone will suggest, "apply for internship", others would say, "no, just apply at freelancer's community", and it will never end. –  bytebuster Dec 18 '12 at 13:49
Check the duplicate links at the top of this page. On another note, it's encouraging to see someone so young take up programming with such zeal while their mind is still "agile." Keep it up! –  Robert Harvey Dec 18 '12 at 16:51

7 Answers 7

Probably not the answer you want to read, but anyway: Since you are probably very proficient with computers in general, just sell those skills. Install Windows on your neighbour's new computer or remove a virus from Aunt Anny's harddisk. These jobs are relatively easy to get, nobody asks you for your trade licence and you still have enough time to do what is really important, i.e. go to school, get good marks and get accepted by a good college then. Maybe you can create a little website for a local business owner, too, once the word about your computer skills spreads.

Real programming work is demanding in terms of expenditure of time. Most programmers work fulltime and then some. This is probably not the kind of work that you can do and still care for your education. Of course you can try to go the "write a little app" way as suggested by the other answer, but unless you are very creative, changes are that your funny little tetris clone will sell 10s of copies, hardly making enough money to cover the expenses.

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Writing a tetris clone that sells 10 copies is still worthwhile. It teaches you development from start to finish. How to debug, polish and make a product rather than just a bunch of projects that never get finished. It forces you to do things like do professional looking graphics and have a rock solid build. The dicipline required to make a good app is experience worth having, even if noone pays for it - kinda like school (or OSS). –  dave Jan 29 '13 at 23:31
dave: true, but lesderid explizitely asked "how to earn some money", not "how to learn an important lesson". –  user281377 Feb 13 '13 at 21:56

How about to develop a small program, and sell it through your website? Or if don't want to spend money for a web host, then maybe through social media?

Another chance is to learn some mobile programming and sell apps for mobile phones. Each major platform has a large service based on this exact idea, but they may charge a fee for including your program (can someone confirm?).

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I was going to suggest the same thing. One of the best ways to get more programming experience and possibly earn a little extra money while building your resume for the future is to work on a mobile project or two and get it released. You can do that as a minor with your parents help for some of the contractual parts. Considering what technology stack you have been using, consider going the Windows 8 (phone, tablet) route perhaps. –  Akira71 Dec 18 '12 at 13:42
Your answer seems to be the most constructive. I would just add that a Web application may also earn some money by itself. Written by a the OP and a small business (+PayPal account) arranged by a major (e.g. a parent) –  bytebuster Dec 19 '12 at 10:00

Invest your time in learning.

I am 15 years old too: I have been programming since I was 8 or 9 maybe, and I've come across a lot of languages, technologies and paradigms: C, Java, Scheme, Haskell... jack of all trades, master of none (Well, depends on the language).

I'm also comfortable using *nix systems (Mainly Linux and FreeBSD) and took some Coursera/EdX classes about Machine Learning and Algorithms.

Maybe this is not too much, my knowledge of this things isn't really broad: And I've never build any big application or have real world experience: But when I get into College I'll have previous knowledge, and when I go out to the real world I'd probably have arround 10 years of experience.

I've tried to get jobs during the summer: but I can tell you that at least in a small town it's impossible: maybe if you live in a big city you have more chances. But here it's impossible, no Software Companies, no Universities, no User Groups.

You can try building a mobile application or a game and sell it: but might be complicated to do such a thing alone. Maybe build a small team of folks that have similar interests and build a game with them.

Another option is start building a portfolio of your projects in Github: Build a lot of things, in a lot of languages and put it in Github. Also contribute to an opensource project if you can.

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Selling software on your own might be a way to make some money, but there are chances that you spend more time selling than coding if you try to do so. In order to develop a commercially successfull application, it will take a whole range of skills which are not directly related to programming.

I am not saying that you shouldn't learn those skill. I am just saying that you may not find the whole process very fun (if you do, lucky you!).

I would recommend trying to do some informal projects like maintaining websites for associations. Or helping your neighbor to solve computer issues (not programming, but you will eventually have to deal with people using your products at some point).

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Well the first and most obvious thing I would suggest is go to a few local user groups and get to know folks. It is not crazy to think that someone local shop would be willing to have you come in after school and over the summer as an intern.

You would gain a lot of experience and some good mentoring.

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First off. Please be careful about using the word "Master". I got a Master degree 1st class in Computer Science + 4 years in work experience and I am not calling myself a Master of anything - Only a handful of people in the world have the right to call themself that. As for your question. This is probably best done writing some Websites. Blogs, Apps, in your case ASP.NET(C# + Javascript) and make money via advertising. This will take a lot of work and patience. Good luck.

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True, poor choice of words. I've edited the question. –  lesderid Dec 18 '12 at 14:07

Try to earn money from another hobbie or another job and use your progamming skills to create (or help with) an open source project.

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