Today, you don’t need a computer science degree to start a career in programming. Plenty of successful programmers today are actually self-taught or they took part in a coding boot camp that helped them master their skills quickly. There is simply no right way or wrong way to learn how to program, but there is a faster way.
When it comes to learning anything about computers today, things change fast. The technology you’re learning about now will likely be a little bit (or a lot!) different by the time you feel confident in your craft. That’s why speed plays a role in your successful development. All great programmers know that you never stop learning, but you do want to have enough skill to land yourself a great job. Not sure where to start? These 7 tips will help you learn faster so you can start your career sooner.
1. Just Get Started
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One of the biggest reasons people put off learning a new skill is because they don’t know how to start. They’re afraid they aren’t up for the challenge, or that they don’t have what it takes. Anyone can code, but not everyone can just get started. The sooner you start getting down to business and playing with the code yourself, the faster you’ll be able to conquer new concepts.
There’s a difference between book learning and actually doing. While reading about a development task is an important part of the process, it’s not the only part. You need to just get at it and start coding for yourself. You’ll run into problems. You’ll need to look things up. You’ll make mistakes when you try to implement new codes for the first time. That’s okay. That’s how you learn.
2. Don’t Skip the Basics
If you’re already skilled in some areas of development, you might think you can skip the elementary steps and jump into the deep end. Don’t do it. These basic fundamentals are the foundation of any solid understanding of programming. These are the things you need to understand inside and out before you’re able to move on to the next step.
In fact, you should continue to review these basics again and again as you continue your learning. Those who tend to jump through the initial stages of fundamentals are more likely to struggle later on when they’re missing an important part of the story.
3. Ask for Help
There’s a bit of a stigma around asking for help. People mistakenly believe it will make them seem weak or unintelligent. That’s not true. In the coding world, much of the work is collaborative. When you’re programming in your industry, you’ll be expected to work as a team. It’s better to learn now while you still have mentors you can call on for help.
We all run into walls, especially in the beginning. There will be bugs or topics that seem impossible to understand at first (or fifth) glance. Ask for help. You never know what a fresh pair of eyes will reveal, and you might gain a new connection along the way. However, don’t just ask for help right away. Take a few minutes to give the problem a solid try before reaching out to someone else. It might not be as confusing as it seems at first.
4. Get Off the Computer
This might seem counterproductive since you’re learning to program, but it’s actually a revolutionary idea for learning quickly. Try to code by hand. This requires a whole different type of concentration that you don’t experience when you’re working at a monitor. You’ll have to think about every individual line of code. You can’t check this code half-way through writing it. You just have to think acutely about everything you put on the page.
Coding by hand will make you a strong developer. You’ll have a stronger grasp of the fundamentals we mentioned before, and you’ll be ready to really test your understanding. Also, a lot of job interviews today require you to code by hand, so this is great practice.
5. Push Beyond Samples
When you’re learning how to develop, you’ll come face to face with a lot of sample code. This is a great place to start, but don’t take it at face value. Reading sample code won’t help you understand just how it works. If you want to really get this code on a deeper level, you need to play with it yourself.
Just because you can read and understand the code does not mean you’re ready to write it yourself. Push the boundaries of the sample and see if you can make key changes. Finally, try to replicate it from scratch to facilitate the learning process.
6. Utilize Online Tools
The internet is a coders paradise. There are a wealth of online resources whether you’re trying to learn from a YouTube tutorial or a Reddit post. If you want to understand Amazon Cloudwatch, you can find more info on this website. If you need to review statements and functions, there’s a YouTube video for that. One source might help explain something better than another, so don’t stop searching when you have a question. Here is one of my favorite resources for mastering test automation.
7. Avoid the Rabbit Hole
We’ve all been there. We’ve all been stuck on a particular bug for hours or even days. These times can seem frustrating, and they might make you want to give up on programming altogether. Say no to that negative voice and step away from the screen for a few hours. You don’t need to spend hours working through something small.
Let your mind refresh. Sometimes all you need is some time in fresh air and a break. When you return later, you’ll be less frustrated and ready to tackle the problem. Once again, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re unable to overcome a bug.
Learning how to program is a valuable skill that will help you land a career you can be proud of. However, don’t try to rush the process too much. As long as you’re taking your time with every step of the learning process, and you’re giving yourself the freedom to stay sane even when things go wrong, you’ll be ready for anything.
Confidence in the key to success. These 7 tips will help you, but you need to put in the hard work and confidence on your own. Don’t let the doubts get in the way of your learning. Plenty of people have followed this same educational journey before, and you can too.
Have you ever struggled to learn programming? What helped you? Comment below…