075 - The Last Episode! (Possibly 😋)
7 Jul, 2018
It’s the last episode! I’m sharing the biggest lessons I wish I knew when I first started learning to code, and also what’s still to come on the Start Over Coder journey.
My Parting Advice
1. Set a clear goal from the beginning
It’s the lesson I keep coming back to (as discussed in episode 13, episode 49, and episode 50): it’s a lot harder to get where you want to go if you’re not sure where that is. Setting a clear goal about what you want to accomplish (and by when) is the most important step, both for learning new tech and especially for switching careers.
Granted, if coding is new to you, it can be difficult to set realistic goals—you just don’t know what you don’t know. In this case, I’d say set short term (like 2 weeks or 1 month) exploration goals to learn as much as you can about one topic in a set time frame. At the end, decide if you want to keep learning it or move on to something else. Also, no. 3 below can help you work on your goals as well!
2. Build actual projects
While tutorials and code-alongs are great for getting introduced to a topic, building something on your own from scratch will be a much more effective way to have that topic sink in for most people. It’s also through building things from scratch that you can see just how libraries and frameworks can quickly solve problems that you would otherwise code from scratch.
What kind of project? For me, I found it the most rewarding when I built something that I actually wanted to use myself—think about what that might be for yourself and then build it! If you want some more ideas, take a look at the freeCodeCamp curriculum or the (somewhat overwhelming) lists below:
3. Work with other people from the beginning
I’ve noticed a huge difference in my learning progress since I started getting other knowledgable programmers involved.
First, they’ve helped me figure out what to work on next and how to approach my goal setting.
Second, working with other people on coding projects—first in person and then as part of Chingu—has accelerated the speed with which I pick up new skills dramatically.
Third, interesting opportunities can come of it, like job prospects or access to special events.
And finally, it’s just nice to have someone to vent to or commiserate with occasionally about the frustrations of coding—encouragement from someone who knows your pain can be great!
4. Teach someone else what you know
This may be hard to wrap your head around even once you have years of coding experience behind you, let alone as a beginner. But to learn something new, you really only need a teacher who is a few steps ahead of you in the process—why can’t that teacher be you?!
I released a previous episode about the personal benefits of teaching someone else, and also how you can go about doing it yourself.
5. What to learn? Keep it basic and go deep
One of the biggest conundrums when I first started learning was what I should actually learn. Which language? Should I learn more than one? (Answer: no!) Which framework should I pick up?
The short answer to all of these questions: pick one thing and go deep. It will be difficult to shut out all of the noise from the many corners of the internet pulling your attention away from that one thing, but try hard to stick with it. Then, once you know that thing well, add to it.
What’s Next for the Start Over Coder
Despite this being my “parting advice,” I’m not stopping coding or actually going anywhere! Though the podcast is coming to an end, my main goals (check out episodes two and four to hear about them) are still very much in play.
You can listen to the episode from about 16:15 to hear what’s coming up in the immediate future, and keep in touch for future updates by:
- subscribing to the podcast feed wherever you get your podcasts
- signing up for the SOC mailing list
- following me on Twitter and/or Instagram (Direct Messages are open if you want to get in touch)
- emailing me at startovercoder at gmail dot com
- CodeNewbie podcast season 3, ep 8 - Colleen Schnettler
- Episode 70 — First Real Life Dev Meeting
- Grace Hopper Celebration