If you’re new to programming, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options and steps there seem to be when it comes to establishing your coding career and your skills. You might be a student, or you might simply be taking the next step in figuring out where you stand in this modern world of technology, but like anything brand-new, breaking into programming can come with its own complications.
From figuring out how to work through problems to learning to create goals that will motivate you, getting started is a huge leap into the unknown. Programming is a very modern field, and because of that, there might be hurdles to jump over that people in other careers can skip, for example, learning alone, fighting the fear of not knowing something, constantly facing things that you haven’t met anywhere else yet, and still managing to be inventive and creative. As a person who had to deal with all the same obstacles, I know how overwhelming it might seem at first. You might not have a clue where to start, how to use theoretical knowledge, or how to approach the task, but that is what every quickly developing field makes us feel. However, I’m sure that once the barrier of the fear is overcome, there’s nothing that you can’t do.
So to help jump-start your new career in programming, here are 10 recommendations that will send you on your way to success!
1) Have a Plan for Code
It will ultimately help you in the long run to carefully plan out any coding project. This will make your projects cleaner and allow them to move far smoother than if you simply jumped into each one blind. While you can’t plan for everything, it’s important to come up with a general goal for your project, while leaving room for troubleshooting.
Some things to take into consideration, other than the coding language and technology you’ll be using, are:
- What are you trying to create?
- What do you want it to feature?
- What needs to be featured in order for it to work properly?
- How quickly do you want to have this done?
When you figure these key answers out, you’ll be ready to start working on your project without getting sidetracked.
Just like with any career move, it’s also crucial to have a plan for your future in code. Having a plan will help keep you motivated to do well and help keep your goals in line so that you’re able to continue moving forward in your career without hesitation.
Where do you want your future in code to take you? Make sure you’re able to define this for yourself, as it’s the only way to truly get on the right career path.
2) Define Your Purpose for Code
Finding the purpose for your code is essentially part of the planning mentioned in section one, yet it’s also a whole separate task altogether. When planning a project, it’s helpful to define a purpose for your project as well. When starting a new project, you’ll be able to stay encouraged if you have a clear idea of what you want your project to be when it’s finished. For me, it’s always essential to imagine a person using the final project and understand its value and the changes that it makes. This will help you to stay on target and will motivate you to keep working to achieve that end goal.
On top of that, before jumping into any career, it’s helpful to define what possibilities may lie on the horizon for you and what you might be able to create through that career. What are your long-term goals? Programming is a powerful career that can jump-start your future in incredible ways. It’s important to figure out where this passion for coding can take you and what your exact goals with it are.
3) Test Your Code
As you are new to coding, it’s important that you test, test, and retest. This will not only help you to perfect your project, but it’ll give you more practice for when something goes wrong. A huge part of coding and programming is troubleshooting—figuring out how to get yourself out of a sticky situation when things go haywire. If you’re able to identify where in your code you’ve made a mistake, you’re off to a great start.
Being able to identify problems in your code is essential when it comes to figuring out what you can do to make it better. Even if your code does exactly what you wanted it to, there might be a way to make the project run smoother, and figuring out how to iron out those problems is important when you work toward being a successful programmer. Remember, you’re trying to make the complex simple, so figuring out the best way to make a piece of code run more efficiently will be incredibly helpful in the long run.
4) Google It First
We live in a very technologically driven time. This is probably obvious from the fact that you can easily make a career for yourself in programming, but oftentimes coding can feel incredibly overwhelming to newbies. Troubleshooting those pesky problems can be discouraging if you don’t know where to start.
Before you decide to scrap the entire thing, Google it! Google has pretty much all the answers you’ll need to keep you motivated, and when you’re persistent enough to keep looking for new ways to improve, you’ll naturally get better at coding. I can’t even count how many times Google saved my time and nerves. All you need to do is to learn how to ask the right thing.
5) Bad Code Should Be Discarded
On top of Google being your best friend for troubleshooting, it’s necessary to point out that there are going to be times when you’ll have to discard your code. If a project simply isn’t working correctly no matter what you try, it should probably be discarded. This is a sign that you simply have bad code. There are a few ways to identify if your code is bad, and some of these things can be easily avoided on your part.
To avoid creating bad code in the first place, make sure you don’t copy and paste any part of your code, and double-check to make sure you haven’t repeated yourself.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re focused when writing code, which will help you remember to include all the important requirements of the task into your code. Coding while your mind is somewhere else just isn’t going to get you anywhere.
You can often identify bad code if:
A) things simply aren’t working the way you intended them to.
B) your code is hard to understand. If you can’t understand it, how can you expect the computer to? After all, you’re the one who wrote it!
Go back to the beginning and try again. You’ll likely come up with a new solution this time around, and that practice will do nothing but motivate you to keep trying!
6) First Is Not the Best Solution
Of course, it’s easy to get excited when you first figure out a solution to a coding problem you’ve come across. It’s crucial to remember, though, that the first solution you come up with is not always the only solution to a coding problem. Just like in math or art, there are endless possibilities to reach that final solution in programming.
Although it’s encouraging to finally reach a solution to a problem you’ve been working through, it’s important to recognize that the solution you’ve come up with might not be original, or it might just be a simple fix for something far more complicated.
Just remember, the first solution you come across might not be the best one. Once you recognize this, you’ll be able to practice more and learn what you need to so that you become the best at what you do in the crazy world of programming.
7) Always Figure Out Problems With Your Code
While you’re taking the leap into a programming career, it can be easy to get discouraged when something suddenly isn’t working. Remember, in code, you’re trying to create shortcuts that will better the future, and you can’t do that if you give up! If something in your code isn’t working, it’s important to be able to identify what that is. Not only will this help your code run smoother, but it will ultimately make you better at what you do. Being able to identify issues in your code is a great way to familiarize yourself with your primary coding language and open up the possibilities that can come from fixing something as soon as you realize it’s a problem.
There are a few ways to identify problems in your code, but the easiest way to tell if you have an issue is simply when something isn’t working. When this happens, it often helps to look to your source code for help identifying what the problem may be. Once you’ve figured out what that problem is, you’ll be able to take steps toward fixing it.
We’ve already discussed a couple of great methods for troubleshooting problems in this article, but it will also help to read the problem carefully. This will help you to truly figure out what it is you need to do to fix the problem in a way that’s clean and won’t mess up the rest of your code. Then, make an outline of the steps you need to take, and write out a sample code for you to test before you embed it in the rest of the code you’re working with. Doing these things will ultimately improve your code and help your project work smoothly even after you hit a roadblock.
8) Don’t Waste Time on Simple Things
When you’re first starting out in code, it’s easy to get sidetracked and obsess over making everything perfect. Of course, you want your code to run smoothly, but it’s important not to get hung up on things that aren’t actually significant to the function of the project.
The goal of coding is to create something that works so that you can create technology that makes tasks easier for people in the end, but you won’t be able to reach that end goal if you’re obsessed with how one little transition looks on a webpage you’ve created. Take that dedicated energy and put it toward the function of the code so that you can perfect your skills before you go and perfect everything else.
9) Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes
As with any career move, there will be mistakes made. Programming is a learning curve just like every skill, and if you’re caught up in being too afraid to make mistakes, then you’ll never be able to move forward in your career as a programmer. It’s important to take your passion for code and focus on that rather than the fear that something won’t work. You’ll never be able to improve your skills if you’re too afraid to start. Admitting that mistakes are something that happens to even the best programmers will help you push past that idea that you can’t make mistakes. Honestly, it was the hardest thing for me to do. Even now, I have to fight my inner perfectionist, which makes me feel down from time to time. But that is a crucial step. And I’m talking not only about the field of programming now.
There’s a great community in the world of programming, and if you ask any professional coders, they’ll likely tell you that mistakes are just a common part of coding. Keeping this in mind is a great way to stay motivated even when you’re feeling discouraged.
10) Take Breaks
While a huge part of becoming a successful programmer is to practice, it’s equally important to take breaks when you need them. Burnout is real, and it can even affect beginners. If you spend too much time staring at your screen, dwelling on code that just isn’t working right, you’ll be more likely to give up because of frustration. But the truth is, nothing happens instantly, so rather than sitting and pouring all of your day’s energy into figuring out how to perfect something, take some time away from the computer. Often, when you sit back down, you’ll be able to come to the code with a clear mind, which will actually help you fix it more efficiently. You might even think of a solution you hadn’t thought of before while you’re resting!
You Have a Future in Programming
Truthfully, in this modern, technological world, there’s more of a demand for programmers than there has ever been in the past. When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged to keep going, but with these tips, you’ll quickly find yourself improving and able to move into the world of coding seamlessly. To be honest, I check this list of tips from time to time to remind myself not to give up and move forward in my career.
Being able to identify problems in your code will keep you motivated to improve, and starting off with a solid plan for yourself and the projects you hope to complete will allow you to see the possibilities that can come with coding. Allow these steps and your own goals to be the encouragement you’ve been looking for in jump-starting your career. Even if you’re brand-new to code, if you’re passionate about improving your skills, you have a future in programming.