Creating Coding Opportunities

Hack Upstate
4 min readSep 6, 2023


Written by Jason Scharf, Hack Upstate’s Student Success Coordinator

So you are in a web development bootcamp to learn how to code or you are learning online through FreeCodeCamp, Harvard’s CS50, YouTube or other options. Now you are looking for some projects that you can make to show off your skills.

There are multiple options that you can choose from. This post has some ideas to get you started.

Build a portfolio site

This might be an obvious choice. The great thing with this, is you can literally make whatever you want. You are the designer, coder, and the client. You can be as creative as you want. You can change it as often as you want. You can show folks your progress.

If you are working on this, do not try to make the “perfect website” before you share your work. Instead look at this as a Version 1 of your website. Share your progress with friends and contacts. As you improve this, you can always update it to version 2.

Some ideas for portfolio websites can be viewed HERE.

Build a basic website for a friend or family member

Ask friends or family members if they have a business and would like help putting together a free/low-cost website. Make sure you specify that you would like to use this for promotional purposes. There is not really stress of having a deadline over you.

You can practice holding stand-up meetings to show your progress towards the deliverables. Your friend or family member can also give you feedback on your progress. This helps you figure out how long it takes you to implement different features, which helps you give future clients a better estimate.

Try to tie coding project into your day job

This one may not be possible for you, but it may be. Here are some ideas that may help you get started:

  • Do some accessibility testing of your businesses/organizations website. Google’s Lighthouse is one example of a tool that can help with this:
  • Do some testing into how well your organization’s website performs on mobile devices.
  • Is your work doing a special event or promotion, offer to build them a landing website page for this.
  • You can do a simple Bootstrap page, a free domain through Porkbun or other websites, and all of a sudden you look like a rockstar
  • If you normally do data analysis in Excel or Google sheets, install Jupyter Notebooks and do a Python pandas tutorial and start to learn how to do some of the same calculations there.
  • If you occasionally make charts or graphs for your work, you can try to make a chart in D3 (a Javascript Library), which can be run in Observable notebooks.
  • You could also play around with Python libraries that do data visualization such as Plotly, Matplotlib, or GGPlot2.
  • If you need to map things out occasionally for work, instead of doing this in google maps, see if there is a mapping application library that you can use for this. Some examples are:
  • Leaflet.js — A Javascript library for making maps

These are just some ideas. Please feel free to come up with your own and put them in the comments section below. If you are working in a job that is more customer facing and you just cannot work on a computer during your shift, I would encourage you to work on the next option.

Locate someone in your company that does works in web/software development

Every company nowadays has some sort of digital presence. Fast food companies have websites, small businesses typically have a Facebook business page, etc.

Find out which person or department maintains that. Ask around at work, call HR, search LinkedIn. When you find someone, ask them to meet up for lunch or a cup of coffee. Let them know that you are starting to learn web development and would love the opportunity to help your company or organization.

Ask them for their ideas and just listen, take notes, and follow up on their recommendations that make sense to you. You can ask them if they were to interview a new developer, what might be a small project that would show them that this person could do the job.

After they give you an idea, you can ask them if they were to work on that, would they be willing to meet with you to give you some feedback on this.

These are steps that will likely make that person think of you the next time that their department is looking to add another web or software developer.