Finish Strong: My 2016 Programming Bucket List
Sometimes your programming job won’t challenge you in the ways that it should. Computer Science is broad and complex and in the corporate world, you will rarely need to use all or even half your technical skills. It’s easy to find yourself in a job that requires you to use a specific set of skills constantly and it can get redundant and cease to challenge you.
It is important to find ways of preventing that redundancy from seeping in and to avoid getting rusty in the skills that you know.
For me, I start each year with a programming bucket list where I list a few things I want to do in my spare time to enhance my programming skills and fuel my passion for technology.
If you didn’t make a programming bucket list, that’s fine. 2017 can be a new start for you. You don’t HAVE to do this but I’ve found that it helps keep things interesting for me. Plus it’s a great way to measure your growth at the end of the year. Anyway, here’s my 2016 programming bucket list and what I’ve accomplished and hopefully it will be an inspiration to someone.
1. Launch my website
Starting a blog and online portfolio has been a goal of mine for ages. I kept putting it off because of the usual ‘I am not skilled enough’ excuses. Turns out you don’t have to be a genius to do it. This has probably been one of my biggest successes this year. I’ve met so many people with a vision like mine and I’ve gotten a lot of different freelance opportunities through it. Bottom line, thinking of starting a programming blog? Do it. Its worth it.
2. Learn Android Application Development
Application development wasn’t a part of my curriculum in university so it took me a while to get into it. Mostly because I had to teach it to myself and finding the time and motivation to do so is hard. But apps are all the rage right now and I wasn’t going to let 2016 end without taking advantage of that. You’d be surprised by how much people are willing to pay for an app these days. Personally, it has brought the most income for me this year.
3. Learn Python
I always learn a new language each year and this year I learnt Python. If you’ve been programming for a while, you’d see that it is a ridiculously easy language to learn. I love it! My next goal is to do a commercial project in Python. But one step at a time.
4. Learn Brainf*ck
During one of my lectures in my second year of university, my lecturer mentioned the existence of this language. I literally laughed out loud because I was shocked that he had just said that word in a professional setting. Turns out it is a real language and I was fascinated by it so I decided I wanted to learn it out of pure curiosity.
5. Plan a hackathon in Zambia
I wish I had done more in 2016 in terms of programming events in Zambia but 2016 was too busy a year to incorporate all the events I had in mind. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Agora code community hackathon planning which was a success so there’s that.
6. Gain a reputation on StackOverflow
This is one of my favorite pastimes. If you’ve never taken the time to participate in the StackOverflow community, I’d strongly recommend that you start. Participants can get snarky particularly to new users but nevertheless, it connects passionate engineers, developers and programmers around the world so you can learn so much about how programming works.
7. Do freelance projects
Freelance programming is very different from programming in the corporate world because it allows you to satisfy your creative impulse. I have been able to complete quite a number of freelance projects this year through which all kinds of opportunities have come up.
8. Do a coding challenge every week
Competitive coding is by far one of the best ways to practice your programming skills. I’m positive that my interest in coding would have dwindled had I not set this goal. There are a number of websites you can use to participate such as HackerRank and CodeEval. In fact, even ZedCoder now comes with its own set of challenges.
9. Join/Start a network of coders in Zambia
In an effort to promote programming in Zambia, I had always wanted to start a network of coders. I didn’t get to create one but I was able to join existing networks through BongoHive and Agora and I’ve met some interesting and talented people through it.
10. Contribute to an open source project
Contributing to an open source project for the first time can be scary and overwhelming but it is definitely worth it. The sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing that you did something on the web for others to see is a satisfying reward. Explore Github to find open source projects to participate in too.
Overall, I’m proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished in 2016. I’m excited to keep growing in 2017 and I hope you want the same for yourself as well.
Make the most of whats left of the year and have an awesome Christmas. Until next time coders!