How to create a public portfolio when what you do is private or proprietary?

Not all people work on something public. A lot of what we do is proprietary and couldn’t be shared with the world. So what can you do about it? What if you want to add your work to your portfolio?

Here’s a little story about my experience:

In my first internship in software development, I created an algorithm. This algorithm takes two phrases, compare them, and gives you a % of likelihood between the two. Something like: the first phrase looks like 80% of the second. Also, it gives you where is exactly the difference between the two.

The QA team was using my algorithm to test regression in error messages. So whenever we have a new version of our software, we want to see if we missed up with error messages somewhere. We give a bunch of error message, and the algorithm (and accompanying software) generates a nice Excel sheet with filters, colors, and cool stuff.

It was a huge deal for me back then. And is still is. It was my first internship. And I worked on something amazing.

The only problem was: my code was private and proprietary. And I couldn’t add it to my portfolio. The only thing I was able to do is to include a small description in my resume. But I wanted to do more than that.

My algorithm is based on the Longest Common Subsequence theory. It’s the same principle, with some tweaks.

I was learning JavaScript at that time. And I figured out it would be cool if I can write a Longest Common Subsequence package in JavaScript. That would be a big addition to my resume as I can have a public code. So, I did it. And called it, longest-common-subsequence.

4 years later, the package is still downloaded more than 400 downloads per week. And 40k times in total.

Why am I telling you this?

Next time you work on something amazing but your code is proprietary. Think about a small part you can re-write and do it. Then share it with the world. This is a good addition to your resume and portfolio.

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