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IN REALTIME

The benefits of personal projects

By Caroline 25-04-2017

6_cuisine_hacker_720

One of our Ruby on Rails developer, Vlatka Pavisic, shared her experience of doing a personal project and what benefits it had on her career and everyday life.

“When I started learning Ruby on Rails, I relied on books, tutorials and online courses. The sources were good, but they were not enough. You learn best when you have a "real life" assignment, a problem to solve on your own.

One great source of that is a job. I got my first job as a full-stack developer at Napster. I wanted to become good at it and master the technologies I used.

At the same time, I got hooked on cooking. I discovered healthy food blogs like Minimalist Baker (http://minimalistbaker.com) and Love & Lemons (https://www.loveandlemons.com). I was cooking twice a day and posting too much on Instagram. I felt like I was spamming because most of my friends couldn't care less about things like chia pudding and kale chips. I realised I needed a channel to express my cooking adventures. I got an idea - why not develop my own food blog?

I made some sketches and started coding. I decided to use the technologies I used at work (Ruby on Rails, Sass, HAML, Foundation, RSpec) in order to learn them better.

The result is... Cuisine Hacker (http://www.cuisinehacker.co). A healthy food blog with recipe and restaurant reviews. I'm featuring my favourite healthy recipes and parisian restaurants.

Here are the benefits of personal projects I noticed:

  • They accelerate learning. - You're working on something that's interesting for you. You're motivated to make it good. And to do that, you have to learn the technologies you're using.
  • They make your résumé look better. - You have an original project that displays your coding style and says that you're passionate about programming - you're doing it in your free time as well.
  • You can get code reviews and pull requests and learn even more with the help of others.
  • They mirror your progress as a developer. - It's probable that you will look back on your old code and feel the urge to refactor it. It's a sign you’ve learned new patterns and improved your coding skills!
  • You become better at your hobby. - The project is "forcing" you to work on you hobby as well.
  • You become more interesting. - You're not just a developer any more, you also have a cool side project to talk about.
  • You make the world a better place. - Someone might learn from your code, someone might like the content. You're contributing. Unless your project is a hacker academy or something evil like that.”

You can follow Vlatka's cooking adventures on Instagram and see the source code of the blog at GitHub (https://github.com/vlatkapavisic/cuisinehacker).

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