Getting started with coding – Part 7 – Next Steps

Introduction

In part 6, we looked at a number of training options to help take your knowledge and skills to another level.

In this final part of my Getting Started With Coding series, we will review what we’ve covered so far and then try to answer the question that will, at some point, inevitably crop up. “What do I do next?”.

Quick review

You’ve picked a language, you’ve settled on a particular editor/IDE you feel comfortable with and you’ve built out a simple platform to get started with coding. After finding yourself with your computer desktop spattered with multiple versions of the same file you’ve been working on for days, you take the dive and give the introduction to Github a whirl and discover version control isn’t so scary after all.

A few days go by and you can feel yourself getting more confident and so you start to feed your appetite to learn more. You buy a book and check some videos online out. You’re even listening to a podcast on the morning commute that, whilst it discusses topics you don’t fully understand just yet, you feel like you are part of something bigger.

Then you hit a brick wall. You understand the language’s syntax and data structures. You’ve even started using object oriented programming techniques to help make your code more reusable and scalable. The thing is, you are struggling for ideas on what to apply this knowledge to.

Read on.

Pick a project

Find something in your life, either at work or something more personal to you, where coding could make a difference. Some examples:

  1. Working with your favourite service’s API e.g. Twitter, Azure, Netflix
  2. Create a web based toolkit for your work colleagues to automate tasks for them e.g. creating reports, configuration management, monitoring tools
  3. Taking the data your company has collected over the years and learn/use some solid data science techniques to extract more value from them

The list above is short but sweet but they all have something in common. They allow you to take your current skills and start building upon them, bit by bit, continually improving not only your skills, but the value those skills allow you demonstrate.

Keep at it

Try to keep the momentum going, especially in the early days when you’ve still not learnt that persistence will almost always be rewarded. Once that becomes a learned behaviour, you’ll find it easier to stick at it, even when the going gets tough, which it will from time to time.

Look for further training materials. Search out those modules that will help you hit the ground running on that seemingly impossible problem. Find forums, IRC/Slack channels where like minded folk hang out and get engaged with the community.

Share code and help others with theirs. As alluded to above, be prepared to hit brick walls but also be prepared to think outside the box with regards to how to get past the block. You can go over, under or around a wall. Sometimes, the wall isn’t really there. Hmm, very meta.

Summary

And so we reach the end of this Getting Started With Coding series. The intention was not to teach you coding but rather to get you inspired to dive in to learning coding by cutting through the noise and setting the landscape for you.

There should now be no excuse for you to go off and start working with the language of your choice and creating scripts that help build your knowledge, self-confidence and value.

I hope you have found it useful, even motivational. Please do take a couple of minutes to let me know what you liked and what you didn’t so much so I can tweak and tailor future content. In the new year, I hope to do some more coding related posts so also let me know what you’d like to see.

Till the next time.

Please let me know your thoughts!