This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
I have always envied those persons who really knew since they were kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. I was not that kind of kid. I had lots of things I wanted to become. Programming was one of them, but my fear and insecurity about Maths made me run away.
Things resulted in me following a completely different path which lead to me to Operations Managing and also Marketing. However, I deeply knew it was what I wanted. So I did it, I made the decision of becoming a developer. One year after, these are the key things I learnt in the path. If you are really considering to change your career, take a look at the following thoughts:
Make a first attempt on your own
So we are grown-up responsible people, right? Before quitting your job make an attempt on your own. Like taking an online Bootcamp like this one. And build something on your own. Once you finish a small project you will be in a position to know if you really want to make it professionally or just leave it as a hobby. Or forever.
You don’t need a degree to start developing.
However, they will be extremely helpful when it comes to applying for developer positions. It doesn’t mean you need an Engineering degree. There are plenty of options that can work as a certification of your knowledge. Chance are that the company you apply to will make you a test anyway. But sometimes a degree can help you succeed in the first filter.
Expensive doesn’t mean better
At least when it comes to learning how to code. There are plenty of free and inexpensive options (freecodecamp.org, codecademy.com, udemy.com) that can really help you dive into this world.
Small victories are important
Which means: choose -realistic- projects and finish them. It is extremely necessary to see your improvements. Usually, a CV online is a good starting point. But also are little videogames such as Simon Say’s, Choose Your Own Adventure, or similar.
Find support in people in the same situation
Every day there are people looking to start, struggling with their first lines of code. So go ahead, and spice up your Twitter account by following the hashtag #100DaysOfCode or #CodeNewbie and connect with people in the same situation. Share, learn, and support others.
It’s going to be frustrating
I have to be honest. Starting to code often means deal with a huge amount of frustration and this awful feeling that you made the wrong choice. Persevere, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Is just that when we restart the learning path, we have probably forgotten how much it took us to learn other things when we were younger. Let me remind you: a lot.
Find a mentor
This is probably not easy, but the developer’s community is really welcoming. Having a mentor to cheer you up and guide you is always a huge help.
This is a lonely profession. It’s you against the code/problem. Good news, this last few years lots of groups, Meetups and events have been formed. Despite Coronavirus crisis, they all kept going with online meetups. Find a Meetup nearby or check the GDG groups you have. Tech world has become also very welcoming for women, and you will find several organizations you can join to.
This one thing I learnt: the more you learn, the more you know what you don’t know. So tech becomes that sort of infinite spiral of knowledge that you never master. My advice is: make your research. FInd that one language you feel curious about, and focus on it. Learn it, feel comfortable, and grow over it. Avoid jumping from one thing to another. It will only lead you to frustration at the beginning because you don’t feel any remarkable progression in your skills. Besides, programming fundamentals are roughly the same in all languages. Once you feel comfortable in one, you will find it very easy to learn a new one. It’s like learning Spanish and then study Portuguese. They all have a latin base, so it’s easier to jump from one to the other. But it would be hell to learn both at the same time.
It’s ok to Google
You cannot know all the possible solutions for a problem from the very beginning. Coding is like 30% of knowing how to code, and 70% knowing how to solve a problem. You will face problems and save the solution to your mental database. And next time, you will find the solution easier. Don’t feel sorry for googling. Furthermore, you really need to document your problems, look for solutions and find the best alternatives. You will probable copy code, but be sure to understand what you are doing.
Hope this 10 tips help you. For me, they were like the most important things I learnt and I wish I knew before. Feel free to comment and make your own suggestions.
Peace & Code,