With technology evolving at an exponential rate, the demand for jobs in the tech industry is increasing. Those looking for high salary opportunities in this developing sector are looking to develop their programming skills the way people used to flock to trades.
When new programmers and aspiring web developers get started, it can feel like everyone else is already light years ahead of them. Here are seven critical tips to help newcomers learn programming faster.
Choose the Right Language
There are various programming languages to choose from: Java, C++, and Python to name a few. They each have their pros and cons, though there are various groups that are entirely devoted to a single language and will spread their gospel about why it’s superior to all the others. Even so, the consensus is that Python is the best language for new programmers to get started, due to its simplicity and accessibility. Python is an open source operating language, meaning that anyone can use it, and it helps new programmers get used to the idea of coding without becoming too overwhelmed.
The challenge with Python is that it doesn’t have the same versatility or compatibility as some of the other languages. Thus, many experienced programmers would recommend starting with something else. However, starting with Python to get comfortable before moving onto the other languages, and relying on the extremely active and supportive online Python community can help newcomers find their groove.
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Understand the Fundamentals
Despite the pressure to rush, skipping past the basics will only make the learning process longer and more tedious. By spending ample time learning the fundamentals– the jargon, how code works, etc.–, new programmers will have a solid base upon which to build their skills. That way, when things get challenging, they can go back to basics rather than scrapping everything and starting from scratch.
Work with a Mentor
If possible, new programmers should try to work with a mentor to receive guidance and direction when learning programming. This should be someone who has knowledge and experience in programming but is also open-minded to new ideas and innovations.
The adage “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” often comes to mind when dealing with experienced programmers, but in this case, it’s the unwillingness to change rather than an inability to learn. Try to work with someone who has strong coaching skills and can provide constructive feedback.
Programming is a skillset that relies heavily on the development of strong habits. Just as writers will practice their craft every day to improve, programmers should do the same. Even setting aside half an hour to practice and develop programming skills will yield incredible results over time. This will also set newcomers far ahead of their peers who start programming with great intentions, but let their practice fall by the wayside.
To drastically improve one’s coding skills and to remove the excuse of not having a computer handy, both new and advanced programmers should practice coding by hand. By using a notebook rather than a computer, programmers will be forced to pay more attention to what they’re doing. Additionally, they lack the benefit of running the code part way through to ensure there are no errors.
Know When to Take a Break
Coding and debugging can get stressful, especially when someone has been at it for a while. Combine that with the stress of looking at a screen, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. It can be hard for both new and experienced programmers to know their limits and force themselves to take a break from their efforts. Experienced programmers know that this frustration is a part of the gig, but for newcomers, this can result in burn out and deter them from staying the course for the long run.
Sometimes all it takes to solve a problem is a set of fresh eyes or a calm mind. The program won’t go anywhere while the programmer is gone; a few hours away from the computer can be refreshing.
Use Free Resources
There are plenty of resources online that can help new programmers find their footing. From online forums to chat with other programmers to articles and courses, the options are endless. New programmers should take some time to look at the extensive library on GitHub or reach out to community members with questions. For example, if you don’t know how to manage applications in Amazon Web Services, there are numerous informative blog posts and knowledge bases out there to help you
(Like this knowledge base page here: https://help.papertrailapp.com/kb/hosting-services/aws-elastic-beanstalk/)
Play with Someone Else’s Code
Sample code is a great way to enhance one’s beginner programming skills and put themselves to the test. However, rather than relying on sample code to do the trick, it’s essential that new programmers take time to pick it apart and understand it. Thinking about how someone else’s code is put together and why it is the way it is develops critical thinking skills that will help a new programmer learn faster.
The key takeaway of learning to program faster is to learn by doing. By diving in and dedicating themselves to continuous practice and learning, new programmers will quickly become skilled and confident in their craft.