As a college student, I’m at the point in my “career” where personal projects have heavy emphasis – building a portfolio, learning convention, meeting new people, etc. I love showing off my weekend code, but like most others – I tend to shy away from my earlier projects. You know, the really, really bad ones I worked on when I first started writing code.
Why be ashamed, though? Earlier work gives great insight into how far we’ve come and what we’ve learned. To go even further, I’ve never really understood the following picture.
Is there a reason to suddenly regret stupid things from your past? While I’m trying to steer clear from a mediocre article on life coaching – it never made sense to me that we should be ashamed of the less-than-perfect things we’ve done in the past.
Stupid projects are no exception. A dumb little web-app that you created while learning Flask is something to be proud of. In fact, that little web-app is concrete evidence on how much of a better developer you’ve become, and that’s amazing.
So Ask Me!
While I can count the number of interviews I’ve had on one hand, everyone is familiar with the infamous question:
What are some your flaws?
A stupid question that merits a stupid answer, the likes of “I try too hard” and “I care too much.” Of course this is completely tongue-in-cheek (Does anyone ask that question anymore?). One question that really resonated with me went something like this:
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever made?
And, to be honest, it completely caught me off-guard. The worst thing I’ve ever made? Are they mad? Why does that matter? But after some thought, it made sense. They wanted to learn how I’ve progressed as a developer. The mistakes I’ve made, why they were mistakes, and what I took from them. It was a delightful question that sparked some great discussion with my interviewer.
So, I guess I’ll come clean
To be honest, I don’t even have the source code for most of these.
- Yes/No – I think this was the first web application I ever made. It’s a couple lines of Sinatra ruby code, hosted on Heroku.
- Clyppy – My roommates pester me a lot about this because I was so passionate about it my Freshman year of college. In fact, I think I wrote clyppy 3 or 4 times, introducing me to a couple web frameworks. This is hosted on AppEngine.
- picopaste – Believe it or not, a tool I still use from time to time when sharing URLs between computers. I also took a lot of pride in this one.
To think I used to proudly showcase these projects on my résumé, and that I got some great internships with that résumé, is a little comical to me.
I’m still here
Even with the “burden” of these not-s