Today I am going to talk a bit about the importance an usefulness of having side projects.
We love coding and problem-solving
My wife did not understand me at first. How can it be that we work, after work?
As developers, many of us have the privilege of work doing what we like. And we like it so much that some of us even continue coding at home. I did a small survey at my office and the results showed me that I was not the only one that had side projects.
But besides having side projects for fun or for learning, a side project is one of our best professional assets.
How I got my first (developer) job
I had moved to Japan for personal reasons. I wanted to work as a developer, but even though I believed in myself, I had nothing to prove my value. I had just graduated and I did not really know japanese.
I spent my first years working as a language teacher while I was learning japanese. But I did not give up on wanting to work as a developer, so I started working on a couple of side projects.
Some months later, I suddenly got a call for a job interview. I prepared a portfolio about my side projects and went for it. Most of the interview turned out to be about my projects, and because I built them, I was able to explain myself without problems. Some time later I was told that I got the job because of the portfolio I was able to present.
Have a side project
What makes a good side project? Well, it is different for everyone, but if I had to give some advice, I would recommend a project related with some new technology. For example, golang, angular, react, node.js or similar.
Do you see the need for some kind of utility? Try building it. Are you bored of the languages you use at work? Try learning a new language. Do you use a library or module and want to know more about it? Go to its github page and investigate. You can even try improving it.
There are a lot of activities that can become valuable side projects.
Publish your project
So you have been working on something for a while. If it’s a website, probably you plan on putting it online. But what if it’s a library or another piece of code?
I am sure you have used open source software, and probably you use it everyday. Of course, you can prefer to keep your projects for yourself, but at least consider the possibility of publishing it to github or similar. One of my objectives for this year is to complete and publish a couple of projects I started some time ago. I will talk more about those in future posts.