More than many other careers Software Engineers and Developers are expected to love their job so much that they take it home with them. By this I mean that in addition to coding on the clock, a good programmer is usually assumed to code as a hobby and have at least one personal project going on at any given time. In my experience this has so far held true, at least among my software-fluent acquaintances.
Since starting programming I have tried to make this expectation a reality. Much like my unending list of “books to read,” I now also have an ever-increasing bookmarks tab full of “tutorials to do later.” And though I firmly believe that a line should be drawn between work-time and family-time, I do highly recommend personal projects because, truly, to stay ahead in the tech world one must always be expanding one’s skills even more than a job demands in its day-to-day.
In my current academic project I found that my previous personal projects have been extremely helpful. I am in charge of designing multiple screens and their transitions through handling event transitions in a game loop. This is logic that had never encountered before in my classes. However, at the start of the pandemic in a previous personal project I designed my own game screens and level selects for an arcade game emulator. I figured out the logic of how to switch between animation loops and add or remove functionality based on the screen.
Even though my previous project was in a different language, the experience I gained was a big help in my current project and saved me quite a bit of time. Expanding the breadth (or depth) of knowledge a developer has is extremely beneficial. Personal projects can be a lot of fun, and you never know when that tidbit of knowledge will be an asset to your team or be what tips the scale for you to land that job.