I'll echo what others have said: spare time projects definitely count for me when I'm looking at resumes, and they show initiative and genuine interest.
The one other thing I'd add is to encourage you to find underserved users, either at work or in your personal life. When I was in your position, my first baby programming projects were doing things like making an Excel spreadsheet to automate statistics that a coworker was doing by hand, writing a script for my wife to find references in her papers that needed to be cited in the references section, etc.
Programming for yourself is fun, and can very rewarding. It's a great way to learn new tech when it's not needed at work. But having actual users is a really different mode of working: you have to figure out what the problem is (often the hardest part of a project) and if your solution actually solves the problem or not.
Esme Cowles <[log in to unmask]>
"In the old days, an operating system was designed to optimize the
utilization of the computer's resources. In the future, its main goal
will be to optimize the user's time." -- Jakob Nielsen
On May 6, 2011, at 4:06 PM, Ceci Land wrote:
> I like this. Maybe it's because it's what I was already thinking about doing. I have 3 project ideas twirling around in my head at the moment. I can't do them at work, but perhaps the systems department could give me a dataset to play around with in my spare time. I already have a good dataset for one of the projects that I harvested via OAI-PMH.
> Do these spare-time projects get any respect from the "real world" when it comes time to apply for a job? ....particularly if you focus on really making it as polished as possible (within the limitations of a non-work environment)? I remember building my own darkroom as a teenager and doing B&W and color slide and print processing. (yes, I still love the smell of D76 and stop bath. I can bring up the smell purely from memory :) ). I did manage to work for a while in photography because of my original personal investment of time and energy into it as a hobby. I'm just concerned that the things may not work that way any more. Life was not only slower paced back then, but having an exact skill match wasn't required to get a foot in the door. Plus, I'm no Mozart so it's not likely that I'll come up with something uber creative or so nifty that it's used by a community at large. But I do good technical work. I tinker...I make things "go".
> Thanks for the advice. I'm going to start playing with the projects I have in mind. One is already done as a JSP, but I think I'll convert it to something else and "clean up" the compromises I had to make to get it done in a limited time.
>>>> On 5/6/2011 at 2:31 PM, in message <[log in to unmask]>, Devon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> My answer to this question changes every time it gets asked.
> These days, my thinking is that focusing on skills/tools is backwards.
> Instead, focus on a problems and solutions. Pick something you want to
> do, then do it. Figure it all out on the way. If you don't know where
> to start, build and deploy a simple website. Try a solution. If it
> doesn't work, try a different solution. Keep trying. Don't be afraid
> to toss all your work away and start over. Make the website more
> complex as you go. Add a database. Switch the whole thing to jQuery.
> Then switch to something else. Just keep going.
> Devon Smith
> Consulting Software Engineer
> OCLC Research
> On Fri, May 6, 2011 at 3:07 PM, Ceci Land <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hello everyone. The recent thread asking people what they would like to learn if they had the time brought another question to my mind. If you were looking to get into "this side" of the profession, what would you recommend focusing on?
>> IOW, suppose you were a current MLIS graduate student (that's me) who has a techy sort of inclination. But also assume that your current job as paraprofessional staff involves minimal computer skills, no programming or scripting and this situation will not ever change. Imagine that you've taken every programming and database class you can fit into your schedule, but you realize that course work will only take you slightly beyond a beginner level even if you make A's. (in an IS based program, not CS. I would have preferred the CS route, but work could not accommodate the class/lab time during the days)
>> How would you choose to develop your skills from "baby" level to something useful to the profession? Will developing projects on your personal time and hosting them yourself be enough to get noticed when they day comes that you graduate with your shiny new diploma? What core skills would you choose to focus on? Would you give up a secure job with benefits to find an internship that could really challenge your programming, web development etc. skills?
>> I see many people on this list with very strong skills, but in the job world, I don't see many 2nd string/entry level jobs that would allow someone to hone their skills to the level I often see here. I've been thinking that I should focus on further developing my abilities in: HTML/CSS of course, XML, XSLT, PHP, and MySQL (because they're all readily available for someone to play with despite not being employed in a systems department). It seems that anything I can learn about metadata transformations/crosswalks and RDF would be useful too. I also find some classification theories very compelling (ok, I admit that colon classification really got my attention in my first MLIS class) and found myself drawn to potentially being interested in taxonomies and controlled vocabulary. I know nothing about Drupal, but I wonder if I should include in my smorgasbord. How much is too much and where you y'all recommend I put my energy?
>> Any advice is greatly appreciated. The more specific the better. :)
> Sent from my GMail account.