- Definitely the open source projects, or start some of your own and get other contributors.
- Look at ways of mentoring, for example in this very community.
- Look for nonprofits or not-for-profits that support causes you feel strongly about. When you offer your time or efforts, make sure to set your own reasonable limits!
The education I got in college was valuable. It taught me that that was not my way of learning. Instead, I learned better by doing. I saw the challenges the people around me were having, and I sought to find ways to make their jobs easier.
I have been out of the industry professionally for ten years now. I’m working hard to break back in, but I know there are a lot more things I should be doing. It’s a process.
- Build (or rebuild) the skillset. The languages have changed, a LOT.
- Build a current portfolio. This means creating new stuff, even if it’s simply projects based on FCC challenges to start. Every couple months, add something new. New both in my portfolio, and new to me. keep it fresh!
- Network network network. Getting to codecamps or hackathons, posting answers to questions, going to Meetups in my area (or even out of my area, doesn’t hurt). Get to know people, and become known BY people.
- Become a voice of reasonableness. Rather than getting into a Pollyanna “rainbows and unicorns” mindset, or becoming a conspiracy theorist, recognize the reality. I have a LONG way to go before I get where I plan to be, but my biggest obstacle isn’t the recruiters or the boss or the cultural setting of the place – it’s me. If I can’t interface with people, for whatever reason, then I probably don’t belong there.
Sorry, that last point was largely due to the earlier hijacking. Annoying. I’ve sat on both sides of that table, and now I’m sort of under the table (and not in a good way). But I know, with my own effort, I can get back on top.
Nick, man, you got this. You got the skills, you got the portfolio, you got the network, and you seem like a sane and likeable dude. I believe in you, man!