As an aspiring software developer, it’s hard to bridge the gap between doing personal projects to show off my skills and having companies actually look at them. When I went out to look for freelance opportunities, I found out quickly that not having at least one freelance project under my belt was going to make it very difficult.

This is when I found out about a Riipen.com, a skill-building assessment platform that connects emerging talent with innovative organizations through short-term, skill-specific challenges. With the variety of software development projects available, I can actually sink my teeth in to real world projects outside of the pressure required in a freelance arrangement. It’s understood that I’m a student and I’m looking to build my skills and therefore the requirements of the project are more open ended, companies are looking to see what I can do, not what I should do. I assumed this would result in a lower pay, and less incentives, until I saw this:

Beanstream’s Ruby SDK Riipen Project, I was completely wrong! The pay for this project is easily just as good or probably better than an average freelance project. I actually managed to complete three out of the six offered features, totalling my current income ever made doing software development to $600! This kind of opportunity is only found on Riipen, seriously, it’s amazing. Without the kind of platform offered by Riipen, I would not have been able to find a project like this. Current freelance portals cater to the professional, who can draw up an invoice and knows exactly what they are worth. This is certainly not me. I need a platform, as does every other student, that enables me to build my connections and initial experience. Without this, I’m caught in the vortex of not having enough experience to actually do the projects that would build my experience.

After I completed the Beanstream project, I found another project offered by the HiVE Vancouver. This project currently has me building a backend user management system for their staff to use. It’s the first time I’ve been able to go into a company as if I’m a consultant, draw up a proposal and then actually build it. I’ve never seen this kind of opportunity given to someone with no experience, it really only happens on Riipen. I will be receiving in kind services for this work, a formal recommendation on my Riipen portfolio and am excited to be pushing my real world skills to the next level.

I urge every student to sign up for Riipen and start building their virtual portfolios. The pure quality of the projects and of the companies are higher than any other service. They also provide incredible support and encouragement. After I completed my first two projects I immediately got an email from one of the co-founders checking in to see how my experience has been. This level of care and support, combined with the quality of the projects available is why I sincerely urge every student to give Riipen a shot.

Written by SFU Student Colin Walker