A couple of weeks ago I was one of the few designers who competed in a challenge that was run by Topcoder admin, Victor George for a small component of the Topcoder platform… at least at first it seemed like it. I didn’t understand why there were only a couple of members who were interested. I’ve decided to share some intriguing facts about internal challenges that you might not be aware of, so chances are that next time you will be there and submit in one of those challenges.
First of all, these challenges are obviously about the tools you use every day at Topcoder. Do you ever feel like you could come up with a better idea, a more meaningful design, an easier to use interface? Internal challenges give you the opportunity to influence the design of the platform. Like a dream come true, isn’t it?
All of us know how important feedback is in our job. Vic takes it to the next level. The feedback he gives is usually challenging, so you don’t want to quit any more. You want to show that you can do even better. In addition, most of the time internal challenges don’t follow the rule of not talking to the client on Marvel. You can ask Vic and he will give you just the right amount of input to be able to go on without influencing you.
One of the drawbacks of freelancing, especially when you are new, is that you might not be able to generate enough income. If you are a student or have a normal 9 to 5 job and you only need a small additional income it is not a big deal. But if you have family and monthly expenses to cover it might be challenging. Through internal challenges you can show your talents to the people behind the scenes and if they find that you could add value to the platform, you could be selected to be the part of the design pool of Topcoder, which means that you have a chance to have some sort of stable income.
Many of the designers at Topcoder have never had the experience of working in a team. They probably prefer that they don’t have to cooperate with others and the decision making is all theirs. In fact, they might also feel intimidated by constructive feedback, as they might perceive it as they are not good enough to come up with the best design alone. If you are one of those people who has a hard time being criticized, I would advise you to try team work and in quite a short time you will see the enormous advantage of having more great minds working together. It is not only more productive, but quicker as well. Team members also have a chance to learn from each other and don’t forget about the fun that you’ll have together.
The perfect combination
For me I think being able to work for the design pool offers me the perfect combination of the freedom of freelancing and the chance to grow as a designer in a team without the burden of a 9 to 5 job. Thank you Topcoder!
I hope that after reading the above you cannot wait to join the next internal challenge. See you there!