Build Confidence and Skills in Coding through Freelancing

By Nikhil Abraham

Let’s say that you’ve taken training classes at work, found a coding mentor, and even solved your first problem by using code. Congratulations! So where do you go from here? Like a foreign language, if you stop coding, you’ll forget what you’ve learned. The most important thing is to keep coding and building your confidence and skills.

Here are a few ideas for you to practice coding in the workplace:

  • Clone a website: Unlike programs that may have code you can’t access, company websites allow you to see and save text and images. You may not be able to re-create all the functionality, but choose a specific company’s web page and try creating a copy of the layout, images, and text. This process will help you practice your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript skills.
  • Build a mobile app: People purchase more mobile devices and spend more time on them than on desktops and laptops. Still, some companies have been slow to adapt, and don’t have a mobile presence. Create a mobile website using HTML and CSS, or a native application using Swift for the iPhone or Java for Android devices.
  • Code a small workplace utility app: There are many tasks that everyone at your company and in your office performs. Your coworkers come to the office around the same time, eat lunch at the same places, and leave work using the same modes of transportation. They also share the same frustrations, some of which might be solved with a simple program. Try building an app that solves a small workplace annoyance — no one knows what would appeal to your coworkers better than you.

For example, build a website that sends an email to those who opt-in whenever there is a traffic jam on the highway that everyone uses to leave work. Similarly, you could build an app that sends an alert if any of the restaurants close to work fails a health inspection. The goal here is to learn a new technology to solve a problem, and get real feedback from other users.

After you’ve practiced and built a few things, publish your code on a hosting service such as GitHub and create a portfolio website pulling everything you’ve built into one place. You’ll be able to share and others will be able to find your work, and the progression in your coding skills will be visible for anyone to see.

If you are stuck and can’t think of anything to build, try freeCodeCamp. The website connects working professionals with nonprofits that need a website or app built. After you complete the challenges, you’ll start working on a vetted nonprofit project. Current projects include an animal adoption database for Latin America through the nonprofit People Saving Animals, and a charity fundraiser website for the Save a Child’s Heart Foundation.