Get noticed in tech

What platform are you using to get noticed in tech?

For a noticeably growing group of people, it’s YouTube. Some names are already starting to make rounds in the General Assembly programming classroom, like Traversy Media and fun fun function. These are programmers that “we all know” because they make videos about programming that many of us watch.

The important idea here is what these videos do for their creators. Their videos make them visible to other people – programmers, newbies, entrepreneurs, and recruiters.

Regardless of the medium, be it video, writing, podcasting, as long as the “content” is easily accessible and provides entertainment, camaraderie, or education, it is worth your time creating.

This is particularly true for newcomers to the tech scene (like me and, if you’re reading this, probably you). Let your ephemeral thoughts, ideas, opinions, and skills transfer from the mind to the page/screen/speaker so that others can have the slightest opportunity to get acquainted with what goes on in that head (and heart) of yours.

Maybe someone who chances upon and reads that article on your blog is in a ranked engineer in a well known startup looking to hire, or she knows someone who actually is and shares that link with that person. You might get hired, or be awarded a job contract.

The most important idea here is this: If some person is looking for someone just like you to collaborate with or hire, will they be able to tell when they land on your website?

If your answer is no, then it’s time to get to work. Build your platform for getting understood.

The favourite project

Yesterday I got my friend, Yihui, to come in to give a talk to the current WDI batch at General Assembly. He was gracious with his time and came in to share with us his joining-GA story and the (huge) product that came out of it – his e-commerce website, Hush. It was a great talk. I kept hearing the word “inspiring” from the audience. Great!

Throughout his talk he went back and forth fielding technical and business questions. The class comprised of one-third fresh graduates, so I’m not surprised that people asked so many business questions in a technical course. A startup unfortunately remains the first thing that pops to young people’s minds when they think “get crazy rich and have a glamorous lifestyle being your own boss”.

One thing that stood out for me was his way of thinking about side projects. In response to a student’s question, Yihui explained that he invariably ends up favouring one project over others, and he chooses to eliminate it altogether. In other words, he focuses on only one project at a time.

Since technology folklore suggests that multi-billion dollar companies are usually born out of the activity of tinkerers working on side projects in their mum’s garages, his perspective may be seen as silly and wasteful.

But for me, and for many others I believe that are like him, I think it’s a good way of thinking about how to allocate our time and effort. It’s the difference between a sniper and a gatling gun. (Sorry for another military analogy, I can’t find a better parallel…)

The key is to first get good at something, then branch out to others. The second key is to realise that it takes time to get really good at something. In software, my gut feel is somewhere between 2-4 years for a junior entry-level programmer to become fully autonomous. In other words, it takes a couple of years of practice to be able to know how to implement any project without reference (except documentation).

So instead of jumping from one favourite project to another favourite side project, I believe we are better off focusing our time and effort on one project that is worthwhile and gives us the opportunity to dive deep into. Best case scenario, that project is your day job, as it is with Yihui. I can see opportunities to dive into my work to come at Altitude Labs too, and I’m excited because of it.

And when we’re finally good at something, we’ll know, because then we’ll be bored. When that time comes, we know it’s time to work on that side project…