As a software developer, it's easy to get caught up in the daily grind of working on client projects or tasks assigned by your employer. While it's important to focus on your job and deliver quality work, it's also essential to make time for side projects - those little side ventures that allow you to explore new technologies, improve your skills, and work on something that is purely for your own enjoyment.
Many successful developers have credited their side projects as a crucial factor in their growth and career advancement. In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of side projects and why it's important to never underestimate their potential. So let's get started!
The benefits of side projects
Side projects are a crucial aspect of the software development world, and they should never be underestimated.
There are countless benefits to pursuing side projects as a software developer. For one, side projects are a great way to learn new technologies and expand your knowledge set. Whether you want to try out a new programming language, explore a new framework, or experiment with a new library, side projects provide the perfect opportunity to do so. Not only will you have the freedom to try out new technologies and approaches, but you will also have the chance to apply your learning in a real-world context.
Another benefit of side projects is that they can help you keep your skills up to date. In the fast-paced world of software development, it is essential to stay current with the latest trends and best practices. Side projects provide the perfect opportunity to do so, as they allow you to experiment with new technologies and approaches that you might not have the chance to explore in your day-to-day work.
In addition to learning and improving your skills, side projects are also a great way to work on something you are passionate about. Whether you are interested in building a new product, solving a specific problem, or just exploring your own interests, side projects provide the perfect opportunity to do so. By pursuing a side project that you are passionate about, you can find personal fulfillment and enjoyment in your work, which can be especially rewarding in times when your day job might feel monotonous or unfulfilling.
Finally, side projects can also be a great way to make your resume stand out. By demonstrating your ability to take initiative and complete projects on your own, you can show potential employers that you are a self-starter who is capable of handling complex tasks and delivering results.
My personal story
As a software developer, I know firsthand the value of side projects. In 2019, I started learning NestJs as a way to expand my knowledge and have fun. As a result, in 2020 I was able to use this knowledge to get a new position as a backend engineer at Data Systems in Kigali, Rwanda, where I built the backend of a huge edTech platform that was planned to be used by multiple schools in the country as a management tool.
One reason I enjoyed working with NestJs was that, at my previous company (Andela), many of my colleagues hated working with the front-end framework Angular. Personally, I have a drive to tackle the things that others avoid. So, I decided to learn Angular and even built an application to help manage mentorship internally at Andela. This side project helped me gain attention from my manager, who recommended me to Data Systems.
In 2020, a group of friends and I came together to build a side project that could potentially help us manage our community, share job posts, and connect with each other. This project ended up being a key factor in my next interview, with DEJ Technology GmbH. During the interview, I talked about the project and did some technical tests, and I was offered the job.
While working at DEJ, my friends and I created an application that manages hospitals using NextJs and NestJs. We decided to add a blockchain layer to the project as a way to stand out in the market if we decided to sell the product one day. This project allowed me the flexibility to implement all the ideas I had for a project, so I built microservices in Elixir, Typescript, Python Django, and Golang just for fun. Little did I know that this would help me get my current job, where I work on multiple products in various languages.
This year, I started building a clone of Dropbox using multiple languages as a proof of concept for distributed systems. I want to invest my future in this area of the industry, and I know that this project will help me get my next job.
Whether you're looking to learn a new tech stack, expand your knowledge set, keep your skills up to date, work on something you're passionate about, or even earn some passive income, side projects can be a valuable asset.
To get started with your own side project, consider the following tips:
- Find a project idea that aligns with your interests and goals.
- Set clear goals and a timeline for your project.
- Break your project into manageable chunks to make it more achievable.
- Find resources and support to help you along the way.
- Don't be afraid to pivot or adjust your project as you go.
- Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process!