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Hackernoon logoWhy Side Projects Are Important by@Gareth

Why Side Projects Are Important

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@GarethGareth Mahoney

Someone who enjoys sharing stories about coding and tech, with a passion for automation.

To some, the idea of side projects is an unwelcomed distraction. They
have what they need to do, and they need to get it done before the next
thing. For others, side projects are a key motivation of the day-to-
day.

I consider myself to have started learning how to code three years
ago, having started with Python and recently getting really into
JavaScript, side projects are how I've learnt what I know now.

My style of learning fits it perfectly; a challenge, which I have to throw myself into in order to be able to do it otherwise there's no chance.

Below are some of the reasons why I think side projects are important, especially if you're getting into learning how to code.

Broaden Your Horizons

When I first started learning Python, it was very much for the purpose of work. Could I automate a report, or crunch some numbers
quicker than I could write in IBM SPSS or even worse, Microsoft Excel.

Side projects, and the motivation they provided, lead me down the
path of exploring questions like "Is it possible to map this data instead of making a spreadsheet?", "Could I automate running checks and emailing myself results if there was a problem?"

Now admittedly, these were work-related side projects, however, this was within the realms of what I knew and could see that I could apply things to - the more interesting challenges came as a result of the confidence these began to give me. People grew naturally curious as to whether I could do x or y?

With this came more challenging side projects, and even the confidence to attend hackathons - something I had never done prior. After two years, it became my career!

Improve What You Are Already Doing

Side projects, sometimes can appear as something a bit out there and
wild. For those who are able to use their coding skills as part of their
day-to-day, you will find side projects will help you learn things that
you suddenly realise you can use on your not-side project.

Take JavaScript for example, through exploring the Microsoft
Playwright module and having to use aspects of JavaScript within my
Python code - that helped me understand some fundamentals of JavaScript. Giving me the confidence to springboard from that to creating things such as my template mode setting for my site.

I talk about figuring out how to automate something is like a puzzle,
sometimes by taking a break, you can find that one piece you were
looking for.

Have Fun

Side projects can bring you joy. If you start learning to code and find joy in it, making a career out of it can sometimes then damper it. Working on it 24-7 can lead you to forget why you enjoyed programming in the first place.

Making time to take a break from your main grind, and doing something as a side project that you enjoy can help you rekindle a potentially dwindling passion.

Final Thoughts

Side projects, by their very nature, provide limitless opportunities and allow you to expand your abilities and potential as much as your imagination allows.

I would recommend people explore this as an avenue of learning how to
code, make them passion projects, do things of interest, and everything becomes a lot easier.

Also published at: https://www.automateall.co.uk/ImportanceOfSideProjects

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@GarethGareth Mahoney

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Someone who enjoys sharing stories about coding and tech, with a passion for automation.

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