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5 things you should know before starting a coding career

learn to code

It often happens to us that a few years after we have learnt something at a certain depth, and we have been either working on it or doing it consistently; we realize many things about it, and we wish we had been told them before starting this new endeavor.

When considering to start a coding career things are not so different, as the world of programming and code is so varied, fascinating, and there are so many beliefs, misunderstandings and fears that surround the coding profession.

This is why we are going to discuss five things many professional coders would have liked to be told about before starting out.

  1. Your first programming language is not all that important

Choosing a first programming language can be a dangerous trap, because many people tend to make it look like this election will shape our entire career. Or worse, that there are certain coding languages that real programmers use, and others that are ugly, bad, terrible, etc.

It is not that any language is great, but sometimes, some of these elegant or very powerful languages are only good if you have any idea of what makes them good at all.

When you are just starting to learn code, learn something that is beginner friendly, with a great community, and that allows you to create things as soon as possible.

Languages such as HTML and CSS, even if technically not programming languages, or Scratch, and of course, JavaScript, will be great to learn the fundamentals.

  1. Learning by doing is usually the best way to learn

There’s a lot to learn to have a long and healthy coding career. Wait, don’t worry, we have to learn a lot for any career. And this doesn’t mean you need to learn it all at once.

One thing is true, when starting to learn code, of course, look for great educational content to start learning the fundamentals of programming as well as new technologies. Tutorials are one great way of learning.

However, beware the so called tutorial purgatory, which is a state where tutorials and learning material are so good, so varied, and so available; that you could end up spending each day completing tutorials.

Let’s clarify something, completing tutorials is actually important, it’s good to watch them and to complete them (most of them at least). But do make sure that you are not only following tutorials, and trying to apply what you learn. Even making a clone of something will do it, but it’s important to do it.

Also, when learning through tutorials, do not copy and paste code. Write it down yourself, and even rename some of the variables so that they are meaningful for you. Add comments when needed, change things here and there, break the code, and make sure you understand what it does. You’ll learn so much more.

  1. Completing projects and having a portfolio get jobs

This goes hand in hand with learning by doing. Completing projects, which will eventually go into your coding portfolio; is something that really get you jobs, because they talk the most about what you can do, they are interactive proves of your skills.

One important thing to do, is not to confuse completing programming projects with undertaking something too complex for your current level of experience with programming. Pick something, whatever, even a clone, because you’ll probably end up adding your own style, and do it.

Don’t worry if your projects seem to be too basic. Absolutely all of us most start with the basics, and as you complete things, projects will increase in complexity, and you’ll learn to better deal with this as well.

Algorithms and data structures are important, of course they are. However, don’t rush to learn them all for the tech interview. Make sure to be able to use the technologies, and these concepts will be easier to learn.

  1. Asking for help, googling and using Stack Overflow are fundamental

What would you say if someone told you that many programmers don’t memorize absolutely everything of a language, and they often ask for help online?

For some people this might be surprising, especially because of the stereotype of the lonely genius programmer. However, programmers pretty much need and depend on the internet, a search engine, and of course, Stack Overflow.

One thing is getting help, and other is actually understanding the code. The first one is completely fine and everybody do so; the second might be overlooked, but it’s hugely important. It doesn’t mean you have to understand each piece of code you find on the internet at a 100%, but do strive for understanding at least the basics of why this code you are using was written that way, and why it works.

  1. You will always be learning something

Wait, come here, this doesn’t mean you won’t ever have a free day. This just means that there are many things that an aspiring programmer should learn before getting that desired first job in code. And that, after that, the learning will pretty much never stop.

But this is not learning to be graded or under a lot of pressure. There might be a few instances in which you’ll have to learn a new technology in a week to do something for your job, but this is not usually the case, and even when it is necessary, you’ll just need to learn enough to get the job done.

This ever-learning nature might be very surprising for many of those who are working to become developers. However, it can be done little by little, and not having to sacrifice your free time at all. Determine how much you have to learn something, and start learning it accordingly.

Considering these five things, you can have a smoother path to a coding career. After all, the single most important thing is to be motivated and to be patient. Also, enjoy the ride, because coding is a fascinating and fun skill. Happy coding!

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