The benefits of personal projects
By Caroline 25-04-2017
“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).