Engineers that are new to the field or feeling atrophied in their skills are often looking for ways to revamp their skills when finding a starting to look for a new gig.
Any new learning is better than no learning; so the just code is where to start. The activity that should be much more popular is open source contributions.
It makes sense right? We utilize open source all the time, so why not give back?
There’s a great reason, it’s terrifying. There’s hundreds, perhaps thousands, of rapid alpha nerds waiting to critique your work. To make it worse, it’s happening on Github and Google will never let you forget. YIKES!
Also, and this seems most typical amongst software engineers coming out of bootcamps, they believe that only working on full stack apps qualifies at quality portfolio work. This reasoning is sound if you want to be a full-stack engineer, best to have an FS project on hand to show employers. But assuming you have already done one full stack project, adding much more will have diminishing value. Breakout by putting your skills on display for an open source community.
The good news is that most contributors and maintainers are not bad guys. In fact, they would love an (many) extra hands(s). There are some great projects on the web curated to kick-off your efforts. Some use descriptive GitHub labels to make searching for them easy.
Here is quick rundown:
Up for Grabs maintained by @dahlbyk, @shiftkey and @jrusbatch
First Timers Only maintained by @shanselman and @kentcdodds
http://www.firsttimersonly.com/ (co-lead by Microsoft’s Developer Advocate guru Scott Hansalmen
Awesome for Beginners maintained by @MunGell
Node.js “Get Involved”
Your First PR (pull request) maintained by @charlotteis
Good luck! …now SHIP IT!