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Why you should have a side project

November 12, 2023

Unlocking Career Growth: The Power of Side Projects

What is a Side project?

The Definition

When you enter the dynamic realm of software development, the term "side project" has become a pivotal catalyst for professional growth, especially for frontend React developers, who usually solve visual problems.

Disclaimer: This post is based in my opinion as a frontend developer, but can be applied to any other profession as 3D artists, musician, etc.

A side project, in essence, is a personal initiative to build something outside of one's primary job. It's an opportunity to go deep into creative exploration, skill enhancement, and real-world problem-solving outside the structured confines of your day-to-day work.

Basically, it transcends the routine and opens doors to new possibilities, influencing not just technical stuff but also contributing significantly to the overall trajectory of one's career.

Highlight the Relevance of Side Projects

In the fast-evolving ecosystem of, in my case, React and Frontend development, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. Side projects emerge as a powerful means to not only keep pace with industry trends but to set new standards for oneself.

  1. Enhance your skillset

    Continuous Learning: Side projects provide a sandbox for acquiring new skills and experimenting with the latest features or complementary technologies. Depth of Understanding: Diving into a project allows for a deeper understanding concepts and encourages hands-on application.

  2. Boost your Portfolio

    Demonstration of Expertise: A well-executed side project serves as a tangible testament to your proficiency, acting as a living portfolio that goes beyond a traditional resume.

    Diverse Showcase: Building a diverse range of projects showcases adaptability and versatility, making you an attractive candidate for varied roles.

    Personal Branding: Side projects can be a powerful tool for personal branding, enabling you to establish a unique identity and stand out from the crowd.

  3. Expand your Experience

    Real-world Application: One of the major benefits of that projects I found is that often involve solving real-world problems, providing practical experience that goes beyond theoretical knowledge. In my experience, always try to solve a problem that you have, or that you have seen in your day to day work (about you or your team).

  4. Netyork with Peers

    Sharing side projects on platforms like GitHub not only validates your skills but also opens avenues for networking within the whole community. Collaboration Potential: Collaborating on open-source side projects offers opportunities to work with like-minded professionals and establish meaningful connections, which can lead to future collaborations.

  5. Explore Entrepreneurship

    For those with aspirations beyond coding as me, side projects can create an entrepreneurial mindset, encouraging the exploration of projects with commercial potential. Risk Mitigation: Side projects provide a low-risk environment to test and validate ideas, laying the foundation for potential entrepreneurial ventures.

Benefits of Side Projects

While the benefits of side projects are substantial, it's crucial to acknowledge the potential challenges:

  • Time Commitment: Balancing a full-time role with side projects requires effective time management to prevent burnout.
  • Scope Creep: Ensuring that side projects remain focused can be challenging, as the temptation to add features may lead to project sprawl.

However, the benefits of side projects far outweigh the challenges, and the key is to find the right balance.

Also pay attention, I found some companies that don't like that you have side projects, because they think that you will not be focused on your work, or that you will be working on your side project during your work hours. So be always sure about your company's policy.

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