Importance of GitHub for students

15 May 2021

By: Atreya Tiwari
1.What is GitHub and why is it used? GitHub is essentially a version control and code hosting platform for developers. It acts as a project management, code version control system and social network platform and facilitates working collaboratively with people from around the world, planning projects and tracking work. GitHub has over 40 million users and more than 190 million repositories from around the world which makes it the largest storehouse of collaborative work for developers. Besides contributing to a specific project, GitHub allows users to associate with like-minded people. You can follow people and watch what they do or who they are connecting with. Github allows us to: ●Share your repositories with others. ●Access other user's repositories ●Store remote copies of your repositories (GitHub servers) as a backup of your local copies. 2.Is GitHub and Git same? Git and GitHub often create confusion and are often used interchangeably. But do they mean the same thing? The answer is No. Git is a Distributed Version Control System for tracking versions of files. Github, on the other hand, is a web portal that provides cloud hosting services for your Git repositories. In simpler terms, Git is the tool, whereas GitHub is the service for projects that use Git. 3.How important is your GitHub profile? Just the way Designers and artists use a portfolio to showcase their past works to attract customers, similarly, GitHub profiles are portfolios for programmers. They provide the developers with a platform to present what they are good at to potential employers. Moreover, as the trend suggests, candidates for development jobs are increasingly being asked about their GitHub profiles by recruiters, to verify the technical skills of the candidate. GitHub provides following important services to a developer: ●Sharing First of all, any code needs to be shared among the team members. A code file on a big project is usually heavy and will take a lot of resources. After the upload, when your teammates will make the changes to the file, they still have to upload the complete file each time. This problem is not present when you use GitHub. Just make the changes and push only the changes to the main code file. It will be fast and easy. As a project owner, you can track these changes quite easily on it. ●Recruiting GitHub is not only important for development but also recruitment. GitHub gives you credit for your contributions towards the different projects and it gets mentioned in your profile. This creates a good image in the mind of the recruiter and reflects how active you are in helping others. It's their tool to filter out applicants. ●Social Network GitHub provides you with the opportunity to connect and contribute together on a project without physical interaction. Not only that it also allows you to follow other users and their activities. You can even mark a certain project as “favourite” and follow that project’s progress. ●Getting Help GitHub is a boon for resolving problems faced by new developers. All you need to do is to raise an issue and people with expertise start replying to it in a short time. 4.How do I become active on GitHub? Once you know how important it is to have a great GitHub profile, the next step is to actively build it step by step. It is pertinent to know that recruiters are not expecting you to single-handedly conceptualize, design, and implement very large projects that never see the light of day. What they do look for is a sincere worker with passion for learning new technologies and executing diverse range of projects in collaboration with other developers. Following points are to be kept in mind while making an impressive GitHub profile. ●Write clean, commented, and well-organized code ●Contribute by helping and improving archives and libraries of other developers, which will further enhance your visibility on the platform ●Have a robust list of repositories that can vouch for your ability as a developer. 5.What should I put on my GitHub? Your GitHub profile is your portfolio so you must incorporate genuine projects with readable, well-formatted, well-tested and well-documented code which establishes you as a developer. Here are a few suggestions for the same- 1.Websites This is the most common project. A website project does not require very deep knowledge of technical concepts but sufficiently displays front end and back end skills. For beginners, simple but functional websites are the best option. 2.Mobile apps Building an app is the next best alternative which demonstrates a combination of skills. Usability and functionality of the app is an important factor to be kept in mind. Also, mobile development is one of the few fields with the highest employer demand relative to the number of developers available. 3.Employer-targeted code One distinctive strategy to get an employer's attention is to include something related directly to its business. These projects can serve to showcase your skills and capture his interest. 4.Contributions to open-source projects Open source projects give a visible indication to recruiters that you are capable of working in teams and involved in collaborating with others. 5.ReadMe profile A well-written ReadMe is one of the most important parts of a good repository. The reading is necessary for others because it tells people: ●What the code is about ●How to install the code ●How to contribute to the code Along with the above-mentioned points, you must avoid posting any personal stuff or offensive content on GitHub and adhere to the general guidelines that need to be followed on any social media platform. 6.How to make your GitHub look good? First of all, choose a target goal and then optimise and modify your profile according to the target audience you are wishing to reach out to. You might be a developer or a freelancer looking for employment or an open-source contributor, looking to join an open-source project. Once you have decided your target audience is, it’s time to start making decisions about how you want to present yourself. The next step is to shortlist your repositories containing projects which demonstrate the relevant skills to the recruiters. Pin those repositories to the top. Once you’ve selected a few repositories to showcase, make sure they are publicly accessible to all viewers. In addition, add your picture, followed by a concise bio, and links to other relevant websites that showcase what you do. While optimising your GitHub profile, the following points should be kept in mind while selecting the repositories. 1.Diversity GitHub profiles having a diverse range of projects using different languages, frameworks and tools are preferred over profiles with repetitive projects using same and obsolete technologies. A diverse GitHub profile reflects a diverse skillset and ability to work with different technologies at ease. 2.Totality It's preferable to have few but complete projects than having multiple incomplete ones. It is of no use to have numerous projects which are not readily workable. 3.Functionality and performance The projects included should be practically suitable to carry out the intended operations. Code that is not viable is not worth including in your profile. 4.Readability Recruiters look for employees who write code which is easy to read and understand. Well commented code with low duplicity is a sure bet to impress the potential employer. 5.Documentation Documentation aids the understanding of code and what it does. A repository must include a well-written README that describes the goal of the project. In addition, GitHub includes a contribution chart which reflects your day-wise contributions. Each square represents a day and the shades of the green colour shows how many contributions were made. To a recruiter, an increasing growth pattern indicates the persistence and commitment of the developer towards coding.