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Discussion on: Do I need to do private side projects to be/become a professional web developer?

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shamblingblindly profile image
Karen Carter

I feel like this post, as well as a number of the comments, are conflating very different things. Becoming a dev and staying a dev are two very different things, as are portfolios, side projects just for fun, and side projects for pay.

The entry- and junior-level web dev job market are currently extremely competitive and oversaturated in many (maybe most?) places right now. Many people are reporting a year plus long job searches while trying to get that all-important first dev job. Those folks are going to be at a severe disadvantage without a GitHub full of projects for a portfolio. It wouldn't be a stretch to say they need side projects. You can't compare the market of a decade ago to what's going on now.

After getting that first job and working a few years, no, at that point you do not generally need a portfolio, nor do you need fun or paid side projects in order to get new jobs or continue advancing. At that point your work should speak for yourself, unless maybe you are trying to get back into the market after a long break; I think at that point a portfolio is again necessary to show you've kept updating your skills.

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owlcowl profile image
Owlcowl (he/him) Author

Thanks for pointing out the difference between applying on entry-level vs more expirienced level.

I can understand that most on entry-level feel they need to have a good portfolio of side projects. As you well described there's pressure from different angles.
For me as someone who is from time to time part of interviewing processes I've asked myself how fair it is evaluate someone based on their side projects and I concluded for myself it is not at all. Not all entry-level devs have the time to create a good portfolio of side projects, one reason could be because its a career change.
Since then I'm only using the side projects as a topic to talk about but not to evaluate coding style or anything similar.
I know that view is not common (yet) but I hope with discussions about this topic it becomes a bit more mainstream.

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shamblingblindly profile image
Karen Carter

I agree, it's not really fair to require everyone to have a huge portfolio and I don't personally require this of candidates either. But listening to people who are on the hunt for their first job, it seems like most employers are requiring more and more out of entry level candidates. It's a huge problem with the industry right now in my opinion. Seems like many candidates are going to be entering the field already burned out, the way things are going.