No one dons the cap of code wizardry when they're first starting out.
In fact, getting a computer science job seems daunting. It's all about the perfect resume, the tip-top interview, the SEO blog, right?
Wrong. These things are distractions from what's really important to employers.
In this article, we're not going to sugar-coat it. Nobody cares about your qualifications. All the boss cares about is that you know how to solve their problems.
The quickest way to gain experience and show off what you know is with programming projects. Here's how it works.
Why Programming Projects?
According to Raghav Haran, you can score any job you want (even if you're unqualified). The key is showing, not telling.
And programming projects show that you have ideas, organize them, and carry out your plans to completion. They show that you really know what's up with code, not just what your professors quizzed you on.
In doing so, you gain real experience with programming. This is probably the most valuable thing you could do, even more so than an internship. You're doing your thing, your way.
Whether it's one big project or many small projects, your resume will pop.
So, what might coding projects look like?
1. Twitter Bots
Coding a Twitter bot is straightforward and fun. From Kim Kierkegaardashian to a bot tweeting every line of the Bee Movie since September 2016, the possibilities are endless.
There are plenty of opensource starter kits online (like this one). Chat with some friends, come up with something helpful, pour some coffee, and get coding.
What's cool about this is its versatility. You can do it in anything from Python to Clojure to Node.js. The more the merrier, since cross-language projects show more agility.
2. Data Science Coding Projects (With Stuff Already in Existence)
All the resources you need to be an expert are already on the Internet. You just have to look in the right places.
One way to look is towards all the public datasets, like this smartphone human activity set. These make for fantastic experiments, allotting plenty of wiggle room.
If you're feeling machine learning, look no further than the MNIST database. Containing over 60,000 handwritten characters, the MNIST is useful for neural networking projects. Think up a project with Python's TensorFlow and you're golden.
It's hard to find a computer science geek who doesn't like games. Games can be strong showcases of talent, especially if it showcases a science concept or a difficult coding technique.
Not only that, if your game is aesthetically pleasing and well-structured, it demonstrates determination and passion.
Web developers, this one's for you. Though straightforward, a good-looking frontend with a frugal, secure structure can show a lot. Start from scratch and make it pretty.
Once it's up and running, make sure it's SEO-optimized and filled with unique content. Blogs are a stunning way to show your expertise.
5. "Ad Hoc" Programming Projects
The last thing an application should be is a list of random stuff that doesn't pertain to the occupation at hand. Raghav Haran's strategy for landing any job goes something like this:
When you're applying for a job, examine what the company wants. What is the niche they're trying to fill? What does your position need to do?
Once you've got that, build something that sells you by doing exactly what they already need. For example, if your company is trying to analyze housing data, code a neural network that does just that. Or, in Haran's case, if they need email copy, write a set of five A/B emails.
This strategy has been replicated over and over again without fail. Give it a shot!
Filling Your Resume
Needless to say, programming projects are one of the essentials for any computer science resume. It's less talk, more walk.
Once you've got some good projects going, the next step is finding the perfect job for you.
We're here to help with that. Click here to sign up for our email list. We'll send you instant notifications about cutting-edge tech opportunities.