A few years ago, I found myself at a career crossroads. I had devoted so much time to learning about a particular industry, but now my job prospects were limited.
Even if I were to find a job, the pay would barely justified the student loans I had amassed. Instead of continuing down that path, I decided to learn new skills that would be relevant to the modern job market.
I taught myself how to code. And here is how I did it.
Step 1: Why Coding?
The first question I asked myself is why I wanted to go into coding. A part of me saw coding as an escape from my current career prospects, which were bleak. But the truth is that I always had some interest in programming and computer languages.
There are so many different roads a person can take within programming. Did I want to become a professional programmer? Was I hoping to be part of teams that would build websites, games and apps? Were my goals centered around web troubleshooting?
Every goal has its own path. I found that I was most interested in becoming a professional programmer, which is why I began accruing the skills that would be necessary for that job.
Step 2: Choosing a Language
Many people get confused when they first want to get into programming because there are so many different languages. Is it best to start with C? Is Java the right step? Should I go with Swift so that I can start writing iOS apps? Or can I jump into Python, even though it is considered a higher level language.
Take the time to look at different computer languages. Understand the differences and the various sectors where each language is used. I went with Python, as it fits with the goals I had set for myself.
Step 3: Use Free Resources
The beauty of the internet age is that so much information is available for free. A quick Google search will reveal so many resources for free Python study. These are the resources I used during the first few months of my journey. I knew that it would be difficult, but I was not ready to put money into this pursuit, as finances were tight.
Step 4: Start Small
There are online tutorials such as Scratch, which is designed to help kids how to learn to code. When I first heard about such sites, I was sceptical. How am I, in my mid-20s, going to get anything out of a kids coding tutorial?
The impact of these tutorials shocked me. They are simple enough for kids to learn, but they are also informative enough for any beginner coder to learn through. And given the modest nature of these tutorials, they can help boost one’s confidence as they lead to many “easy wins” during the early coding process.
Step 5: Take an Online Course
When I was confident enough in my ability to code, I decided to take an online course. The reason I went with an online course is that there is a more structured format to the learning.
I am happy that I waited until a few months into my coding journey, as I made full use of the course. If I had jumped straight into such a course, I may have gotten overwhelmed or discouraged that I was not picking up information quickly enough.