Learning to code
One of the most frequently asked question is, “how can I learn how to code?”
I’m no traditional developer in a sense that I don’t have any qualification in Computer Science (psst to save you a lot of questions: you don’t need a degree to be a developer) and I learned how to code purely from smart trial and error and Google. 😂I’m still learning every single day because there undoubtedly loads of gaps in my knowledge but that’s the incredible thing…
Coding is an endless learning opportunity, there is always an opportunity to learn new things and dive deeper. Knowing how to code truly is a super power.
So today I’ll be sharing some of my favourite ways that I have used to learn – hopefully they can help you!
1. Start and complete a online course 💻
When I first started coding, I wasn’t aware that these courses existed (I don’t know if they were very prevalent back then to be honest…) But today, there are a vast number of websites that offer you courses (free or paid) that allows you to try writing lines of code.
Online courses are great because they allow you to get to grips with the syntax and familiarise yourself with reading and writing. FreeCodeCamp, Codecademy and udemy are just a few examples of great courses to delve into and start learning with! They allow you to start writing, review and track your progress and most have a forum of some kind that allow you to interact with others on any questions you might have.
Notice what the heading – I’ve specifically written “start AND complete” because it really is one of those things that you need to keep persisting at in order to establish the information that you’re learning.
I understand how it can be difficult to keep your motivation up when you’re alone in front of your computer, and so, alternatively (or additionally) I recommend…
2. Join a coding bootcamp 🥊
There always seems to be a new bootcamp or coding training programme every time I open social media or my emails (I’m signed up to a lot of tech related newsletters 😆) More and more people have the opportunity to learn in a face-to-face environment which is brilliant – especially for those that lose motivation after coding away in front of your laptop alone.
There’s always something motivating about getting a group of people with the same end goal in a room. It’s super exciting! ✨
I’ve personally seen the impact of bootcamps first hand, for over 2 years I helped facilitate coding courses for women at university with Code First: Girls (CF:G) Those that aren’t new to my blog, you’d know how much this organisation has influenced my purpose in life. Code First: Girls are one of the many organisations that work towards creating a better future for all, along with a team of volunteer instructors they teach thousands of women at universities and organisations how to code. You can read all my previous posts on Code First: Girls here.
Can’t believe today was the second last class of #shefcodefirst :(( Made so many new friends along the journey ❣️ And @paulienuh still has the same enthusiasm as she did on the first day of CFG course!!! 😍 pic.twitter.com/NP5pSadEqh— Nadia Z (@nadia_zz) March 13, 2018
Code First: Girls is just one example of these awesome bootcamps, others include North Coders, Makers Academy and more! Have a quick Google around your local area.
3. Attend tech / coding events 🌟
As self-proclaimed queen of 2018 events, I can’t recommend attending tech events enough. Not only do you get to meet like-minded folks and to leave with inspiration and resources to keep you going on your coding journey, but free food, stickers and other swag!! That always wins me over. 😆
On a more serious note, tech events (especially those that have workshops or some sort of hands-on element) are a great way to pick up some coding knowledge.
A primary example in this case are hackathons. I can give you numerous examples of when I’ve sat at a hackathon either as an attendee or organiser and learnt something new – whether or not it was the answer to my coding question or whatever I was exploring at the time, I still left knowing a bit more.
I remembered why I love attending hackathons. 👩🏻💻— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) December 2, 2017
I’ve been trying to understand CSS Grid for weeks now but I couldn’t get my head around it. Another hacker, Iulian (hey 👋🏼), just taught me how to use it. I’m so impressed 🤩 FUTURE OF WEB DEV #LocalHackDay @HackSheffield
I also noticed that I actually retain information better when I interact with others, especially other students.
There are a vast number of other events where you have the chance to learn something that could help you with your coding journey! For instance, local meet-ups especially focused ones are a fantastic way to speak to others about specifics.
Let me also stress that the folks you meet at these meet-ups are incredible. These are the same people that continue to help me in my coding journey. 🥰
4. Get involved with an online coding community 🕸
Following on from the point above, your community really is everything. Surrounding yourself with other like-minded people who are supportive, can keep those (inevitable) frustrations at bay.
Local meet-ups and events are a great way to meet folks, but hey, since we live in an increasingly digital world… the digital world can help you with that too. (With that said though nothing beats face-to-face contact so definitely try and go out and explore!)
There are some fantastic coding communities online, but one that I will always recommend is CodeNewbies. They have cultivated a supportive community which allow you to connect with others starting their coding journey and have a vast number of resources for inspiration, motivation and more!
If you’re looking to make coding a habit, I recommend looking into #100DaysOfCode. Again this has become a fantastic community that aims to motivate, inspire and help beginners.
You can also look into specific communities such as front end development, back end development, react, DevOps, AWS and more! Know any you think should be mentioned here? Let me know in the comments!
5. Try smart Trial and Error 🤔
As I said, I’m no traditional developer in any sense of qualifications and even in the bootcamp world. I consider myself heavily self-taught that all started when I was 8.
I owe most of my knowledge to good ol’ trial and error. Learn by doing is powerful stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, bootcamps and online courses are so impactful but nothing beats sitting down and attempting to build something outside the limited step-by-step walls of a course. There’s a beauty to sometimes sitting there trying to figure something out and trying multiple things to get that green light. Logical deduction and smart trial and error for me has greatly helped with my learning. This is why events like hackathons are brilliant – it’s in their core.
Maybe try and open up your terminal or text-editor and just have a go at what you’ve learnt so far!
Also… Google is a developer’s best friend. 😁
The stages you will face on this journey
The what-the-hell am I doing and the frustrated why
Mood: WHY pic.twitter.com/sO1GSMIEfp— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) December 3, 2017
The OMG IT WORKS?! OMG? YAS!!! HOW DID I DO THAT? I don’t know why it works BUT IT WORKS.
Also me: OMG YAS I REMEMBERED WHY pic.twitter.com/2diHO6G44S— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) December 3, 2017
The acceptance stage: the infinite loop of learning. Ooooohhh so this is dev life. 😆
Before and after understanding #CSSGrid 😂— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) December 2, 2017
My new favourite thing, as my team knows v well now: @katkoler @MrDarrenV @_fallingstars_ @s_kariotis #LocalHackDay #shefcodefirst #sheftechwomen pic.twitter.com/4teIHIScXB
Like I said, it is a super power. 🤷🏻♀️💥Keep going – you got this!