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I am currently looking at possibilities to doing developer type jobs but I realize I dont really have a real "portfolio" per se, so I was thinking of what projects I can do to demonstrate my skills.

Just to give a little background: my last job was in the visual effects field, and for the last couple years I was writing a lot of tool sets for software we use via Python, but i just found development to be pretty interesting. So really other than this i have no real "experience" in development. My knowledge in C++ and Javascript are suuuper novice (though currently trying to learn). I have basic HTML and CSS knowledge. Im currently also looking into what MySQL is.

The other thing is I have no idea what i want to pursue in a development type job, only that i dont want to do anything website based, but i assume its probably good to know how all of that works. Ive been looking at a bunch of job ads too and ive seen "full stack developer" or just "developer" on its own and i dont have a clue on what it is i need to know to be even remotely employable. It just seems like the answer is "you have to know EVERYTHING" and that sounds unrealistic. So what I was thinking was doing some projects to demonstrate what i can do, but i dont have a clue on what to do. should i go try to make a simple program? like what? should i make a website? what kind of website? should i look into writing an app? im kind of lost with what i should be doing to at least get into the whole "developer" route...

can anyone provide some feedback...? I understand that my knowledge in the field is lacking in general, I just want to know if it is viable for me to start doing something to pursuing that type of career at my current level...

EDIT: Thank you all for the great feedback, i think what I have decided on and take the advice of "doing something I want to do", rather than trying to "prioritize" what and what. Hopefully by creating what I want can be utilized to demonstrate my skillsets... Thank you all again!

closed as primarily opinion-based by virolino, gnat, gazzz0x2z, mag, Mister Positive Oct 9 at 12:03

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Did you try to use a search engine for understanding any of those terms? "full stack developer", "front-end developer"... If yes, what did you find and was not clear? – virolino Oct 9 at 5:11
  • Did you read the job descriptions? "Developer" is quite vague for example; full-stack developer usually means a web developer who does not specialize in front-end nor back-end work. In Web dev front end means HTML, CSS, JavaScript, i.e. what the user interacts with on the visible part of a Web page. – Brandin Oct 9 at 6:52
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    The comment by @virolino has another important aspect: The one skill you will use the most as a developer, especially when you are new and learning a language, is googling stuff. – Dirk Oct 9 at 9:43
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Hobby project: Do what you like (and what you want to do) is it webdesign, make a website; apps, make an app; programs, make a program. But do something you like.

Follow courses: and I do not mean tutorialpoint or the like (they are useful to start) but I mean courses as on coursera or another MOOC (massive open online course) platform. This will also help you with the basic terminology

Focus: I do not think it is handy to know a little c++, a little python a little... Make sure you know atleast one a lot better before you invest in other languages. SQL is an exception since that is complementary to all.

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You obviously want to show something close to what you are applying for.

If you want to develop Iphone applications then you'll want to show that you'are able to developp an IOS one in Swift.

If you want to become a Python developer then write Python programs.

Always be aware of the trending frameworks / library, so you don't learn deprecated stuff.

If you don't know what you want to do then try to learn the basics of a few languages and you'll figure out what you like.

As other answers suggested, you can first use some tutorials and then some MOOC and courses (Coursera, MOOC of top universities once you master the basics etc).

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You sound like you could use an internship at a company that interests you, to get to know current tool kits, workflows, tasks, etc.

While yes, there are some bad companies out there that abuse interns for (almost) free labor or ask for years of experience for an internship, there are also good ones where you actually can learn a lot, and if you are good they might be happy to offer you a full time job (possibly only after you get a degree or further education).

From your answers it seems like you are not desperate to get a job right this instance, so you can take your time to talk to different companies and find the right one for you.

If you prefer doing your own projects, just pick a language that is relevant to what you want to do later, as already pointed out in other answers, and do something in it. The content is not that important, what matters is how you structure your code, if it is readable, etc. If you plan to use it for applications and, for example, send your github to recruiters, it might also be worth to invest in a proper documentation and not only do the minimal comments needed for yourself to understand things.

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Often the easiest way to transition into a developer job is to be doing something related, and to gradually take on development tasks, as you did. The company knows you, and you know the 'business rules' and requirements, which is half the job.

Ideally you'd stick with that for a year or so before applying for a developer job, to prove you have development experience.

If you can't do that, I'd recommend web sites like CodeWars.com or CodinGame.com that set little coding challenges for you to solve. For me, collecting 'meaningless internet points' by solving a specific puzzle is more motivating than a hobby project with no real goal. You can build up an account with a history and a rank that you could show a recruiter, and they'd have a good idea how you compare to other developers. An interviewer could look through the list of things you've done and ask you to talk about it.

Also, I'm an experienced programmer, and I still regularly learn stuff when I spent hours on a challenge and find someone else managed it in a few lines!

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