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Why Side Projects Are SO Important

Passion projects can propel your success.

Oct 24, 2020 Laptop on a desk, showing a screen full of JavaScript code, with a plant in a yellow pot next to it. Photo by Clément H on Unsplash

Side projects aren't what they used to be. It doesn't have to be about starting your own business or founding the next big tech start up. Side projects are an excellent way to create a body of work and experience outside of your day-to-day. What better way to facilitate personal development than through passion projects and continuous learning of things that make you happy!

These projects come into a whole new light when you're job hunting. Being able to show a range of personal work that highlights not only your interests, but your coding abilities too, sounds like a perfect recipe for a portfolio! Although it may sound simple enough, evidencing your coding ability with projects you've worked on... looking over the side project graveyard that is my GitHub 😅, all is not as it seems.

It's easy to think of / find ideas for projects that prove you can code, but the art is in focusing your energy on projects that emphasise the core skills you want to evidence through your portfolio. When you're trawling through job listings, make a note of what recruiters say they're looking for. For a role like a Front-End Developer, recruiters might be looking for someone who can demonstrate knowledge of Javascript and front-end frameworks, someone with an eye for styling & CSS, and possibly even someone with experience using APIs (just an example, not all Front-End Dev jobs are looking for these skills, and you don't have to be an expert in these things to become a Front-End Dev). Focusing on demonstrating the core attributes of the role can help you steer your side projects into great examples of your knowledge and experience in those areas. The same goes for Back-End Devs, Full-Stack Devs, Data Scientists, you name it!

When it comes to side projects, remember quality > quantity. It's so much better to have a select few "perfect" projects that show off the skills and experiences you want to evidence, rather than a bunch of unfinished, abandoned small projects (no shade here, we all have them).

On a similar note, demonstrating passion projects that are outside of what you work on usually, but align more with your career goals for the future can help you get to where you want to be!

Get your hands dirty (figuratively) and create projects that shine a light on your unique ideas, and show off what you can bring to the table in your desired role.

Happy coding!