Side-projects as a confidence hack

It’s easy to get discouraged in an industry like ours.

When you’re starting out, it’s difficult to get hired. It seems like everyone wants someone with 2-3 years of experience.

As a junior dev, you’re hyper-aware of how little you know. There are so many tools, technologies, and techniques out there. How will you ever learn all this stuff?

At some point, you realize that you’ll never learn it all. New technologies get created faster than you can try them. You’re constantly running just to keep up. Senior devs often pop their head up, look around, and realize that they barely recognize the industry anymore. Imposter syndrome starts to creep in.

So how do we stay confident?

One thing that has helped me is building side-projects.

Side-projects are tangible. They are a thing you can point at and say “I made that.”

“I took unfamiliar technologies and I figured them out. I ran into weird bugs, and I fixed them. I built the whole thing, from end-to-end. I powered through, and I shipped the thing.”

Every side-project is evidence of your competence. You’ve done it before, and you can do it again.

Confidence, as a developer, doesn’t come from knowing everything. If so, nobody would have confidence.

It comes from being able to say, “I don’t know everything but I know that I can figure out anything.”

Not everyone can say that. But you, a shipper of side-projects… you can. The evidence is all around you.