Working on a personal, independent pet project is one of the counsels we usually give to aspiring software engineers and other newbies in coding who want to improve and earn their first Junior Developer job. If you don't have much professional experience yet, adding a side pet project or two to your portfolio might significantly boost your chances of being hired.
Creating a pet project is always wonderful, and no one can deny it. When working on a personal project without the assistance of others, an unskilled developer may encounter many challenges. That is why we put up this post on how to complete your pet project. We also shared some pet project ideas that will help you complete yours.
What is a Pet Project?
A pet project is a small personal project independent of your main job. It may be used to practice skills you wish to improve as a software developer, such as learning a new programming language, new design patterns, or any other technologies and processes. In a nutshell, a pet project is anything a developer works on outside their usual scope of activities.
Pet projects are important because:
- They give you a clear idea of what a developer is capable of doing
- Helps developers get a better idea about marketing
- They help developers know their strengths and limits better
- Helps you develop problem-solving skills
Tips On How To Complete Your Pet Project
Here are some time-tested tips that will help you get your pet project up and running:
1. First, Research and Plan, Then Code Later
Just like every construction needs a firm foundation, each project, no matter how little or autonomous, should begin with a plan borne out of research and deep thinking. Starting to code and build without a defined strategy is one of the most common mistakes developers make.
So the recommendation is to not rush into coding. Coding without a strategy can quickly become a waste of time, leading to a dead end and the necessity to restart from scratch. Before you embark on any pet project, do thorough research and planning before coding.
2. Set Goals and Deadlines
Setting goals with deadlines, which is also part of planning, is another key aspect that both junior and experienced coders sometimes overlook.
When setting goals, it is vital to be realistic. If your skills and abilities are still relatively low, it is best not to get overly ambitious and choose a project you can complete, even if it requires additional study and work. Setting (and keeping to) a deadline is another technique to develop self-discipline and encourage oneself to accomplish the pet project within a reasonable timeframe.
3. Attempt To Solve Real Problems With Your Pet Project
Another great tip that will help you complete your pet project is choosing an idea for your project. Most people have no difficulty coming up with ideas for their pet projects; the only problem is that their ideas are not particularly solving real problems. Look for real-world challenges in your profession or elsewhere that your initiative might help to solve (or at least attempt to).
Read what Bruno Skvorc, an experienced web developer from Croatia, said about coming up with pet project ideas:
“You can't force yourself to have a good idea. Most of my pet projects came from working on something else and realizing that something was missing, and I then proceeded to build that missing component/part/library. In time, as I gained more experience with frameworks, I realized I didn't really like any of them. I then made my own, which I use on many projects today. As I used it, I noticed more missing components and more things I could build that would save me tremendous amounts of time, and those became new pet projects themselves. It's a basic need-and-supply, but on a more personal basis. Notice the need, and the idea for the supply will come to you."
4. Focus On Technologies Used By Firms You Aspire To Work With
If your major reason for working on pet projects is to gain experience and construct a CV in order to land a full-time job as a software engineer, you should consider the technologies you will use while selecting a project. Your project should be in the same field as the firms you intend to apply to or to use the same technology they use. "The finest pet projects satisfy your curiosity, so choose a technology that intrigues you and build it," suggests Palantir Technologies Developer, Sanjay Paul.
5. Publicize Your Work
Publicizing your small projects every given opportunity you have is a great motivation. It is one thing to create something that only you will see and quite another to create a product that others will be able to try and share their thoughts on. Even if it is your first pet project and it is extremely simple, plan to make it public immediately; this will help you develop better projects.
6. Use Version Control and Keep Track of Your Progress
Finally, we suggest using version control systems or other methods to keep track of the code. This will ensure your work is not lost due to the passage of time (which will eventually happen if you just leave it on your computer). Version control will also allow you to revisit your work in the future, which is precisely what you need to do. Looking back at your previous work is always beneficial: it allows you to monitor your professional development, identify areas in early projects that you would do differently now, and so on.
Overall, you should be proud of your pet projects. Make some preliminary plans before you begin. Enjoy the process of developing them. Keep them, list them, and publicize them to the world when you are through. A pet project helps you develop problem-solving skills that will let you get better at what you do. If you need to hire a professional freelance UX/UI designer for your pet project, explore our website to choose some of the creative professionals on our platform.