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Every garden-variety coding bootcamp out there will tell you that learning to code can be as easy as pie if you only signed up for their program. However, as anyone who has ever tried to learn programming will tell you, the truth is that it is anything but easy.
Still, not easy does not mean impossible, and not impossible means that you can find strategies to make the process of learning easier to stick to and your success more likely by following these 6 tips.
How to Set Up a Routine
Learning to code is like learning a new language. Instead of translating between two human languages, you are acting as a translator between humans and machines. The machine here only speaks binary, which is just a bunch of zeros and ones, and it is up to you as a programmer to write code that successfully translates into binary language for the computer to understand.
Any language student will tell you that the key to mastering a language is through practice, and the best way to practice regularly is to have a routine. Whether daily, weekly, or even monthly, taking the first step to scheduling regular practice sessions will ensure you are on the right path to mastering computer programming.
For example, spending just 30 minutes before bed every day to practice programming will not make you lose much sleep or take a large chunk of time out of your day. These 30 minutes add up to 3.5 hours per week or 15 full hours in a month. That’s a lot of time you just spent practicing a valuable new skill!
How to Find Good Resources
For the same reason people flock to Ivy League universities, finding the right resources to help you with your coding journey might make all the difference between a successful learning experience and one that is disappointing.
Luckily, living in the era of the great wide web, you can access many programs at your fingertips. Some of these programs are free and available to everyone with an internet connection, while others are paid programs that allow you to earn credentials at completion. Some courses might be prerecorded, while others might have a live instructor teaching you over regular webinars.
The presence of ChatGPT and similar Large Language Models has enticed individuals into believing that these platforms are valuable resources for learning to code. However, this notion is actually false. While such models excel in many tasks and can simplify the lives of those who already possess coding knowledge, they should not be regarded as learning tools for programming, let alone be praised as effective resources. Experienced programmers can utilize them as tools because they can accurately determine the validity of the code they generate. However, beginners lack this ability. Consequently, utilizing these models for learning purposes is ill-advised, as incorrect foundational knowledge can persist throughout one's coding career, leading to significant problems down the line.
At Edlitera, we offer coding courses for both individuals and corporate teams. In every course for individuals, our Ivy League-educated instructors will cover the material and ample practice in live webinars. If you find that level of hand-holding a bit unnecessary, you can easily find plenty of free online resources such as YouTube, or you can even check for classes offered by your local public library. No matter what your preference or budget is, I'm sure you can find the right courses to meet your needs with some research.
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How to Find a Like-Minded Community
Like with any hobby, having a like-minded and supportive community is key to keeping your interests alive. This is the reason why there are knitting clubs, book clubs, running clubs, and moms’ clubs found in every community league or neighborhood. In the online space, this translates into forums and other community sites, such as Reddit.
For example, stackoverflow.com is one such website built for programmers and programming students to share knowledge and learn new things. If you are enrolled in a formal coding course, the community comes built-in as you will have access to the instructor as well as your classmates to keep you on track. So, don’t be afraid to make friends with them and ask questions!
How to Set Realistic Goals
As you may suspect, the life stage you are at will also influence your ability to learn a new skill like programming. When you are in your early twenties, your brain is more flexible and retains information easily. As you age, this becomes harder, so you will require even more motivation and persistence to achieve your coding goals.
Additionally, when you are a young twenty-something in college, your life is structured by set blocks of classes and deadlines. When you leave, you are on your own, and it is up to you to balance your life responsibilities, such as your job or kids, with learning how to code. Therefore, knowing how to manage your time and setting realistic goals can be just as important as understanding that new concept from class.
How to Find a Mentor
Having a mentor is another good way to keep you on track. These are people who inspire you or guide you in life and can be older with more life experience, or know more about the topic you are trying to master. They can be found in and around your local community or online.
For example, talking to someone who has walked the walk and has been in the career that you’re looking to get into can be very powerful. You can find these people on LinkedIn, or at professional networking sessions, or through mutual friends. If you are enrolled in a course, another potential mentor is your instructor. They can also refer you to other potential mentors through their networks and connections.
How Practicing Every Day Will Lead to Success
Remember: Rome wasn't built in a day . . . but the Romans worked on it. Every. Single. Day.
No matter what happens in your coding journey, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. You don’t have to code your way to end world poverty, or discover a cure for cancer either. All I'm saying is that it’s natural to set big goals and lose interest when you realize you are far from reaching them.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg started coding at the tender age of 12, and it took him years of practice and a private tutor before he created Facebook. Similarly, if you set small and attainable goals and work hard to achieve them – you will be successful.
Are You Ready to Learn To Code?
Becoming a seasoned computer programmer can be tough, and I hope that these tips will make your journey easier. To learn more about the courses Edlitera offers, check out the courses page and see what’s coming up.