Leading Edge

Experimentation is Good for Your Career

Side projects can be a great avenue for career development.

September 14, 2013
Side projects can be a great avenue for career development.
These projects develop new skills, amp up creativity, and provide a testing ground for new and innovative ideas, according to 99u.
In other words, think of them as experiments and a chance to grow. A few tips, according to 99u, on how best to frame your side projects include:
  • Don’t worry too much about the result. Embrace serendipity and personal exploration. Emphasize the learning process, not necessarily, how you want your project to turn out.
  • Get your idea out, before you judge it. Creation and judgment are very different processes. Allow the ideas to breathe before you begin editing and refining them.
  • Build it brick by brick. Avoid overwhelming yourself with your side project. Break it down into obtainable benchmarks. Then tie all the pieces together at the end. That way you can fit your “side” project around the rest of your responsibilities.
  • Fail fast. Keep the project as light as possible in terms of the resources needed to pursue it. Make a prototype and get it in front of people quickly before wasting your time on details that won’t matter if the project doesn’t lead to something bigger.
  • Don’t repeat yourself. If your first experiment fails, by all means, try again, but make sure you change the variables. Aim for a new audience or try a new medium; otherwise, find a new idea completely. 
Using your side projects as a laboratory can help your career; it also can give you the confidence to pursue ideas without judging them too harshly if they don’t work.