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How to learn coding on your own: The self-taught developer’s guide

I had a lot of fun these last two years seeing Twitter blow up every time Elon Musk took to it. I look at Musk as a prime example of a successful, self-taught developer.

He’s not the first; of course. From Ada Lovelace who created the first algorithm, to Steve and Steve who transformed our favorite fruit into a global tech giant, there have been many. Every generation has had at least one name who has proven that the best developers are the ones with the best skills, not the best resumes.

If you’re looking to join their ranks and learn coding on your own, how do you start? Let me help.

Step 1: Pick a niche

There’s a famous adage “If you want to succeed, limit yourself.” Trying to learn everything at once will only overwhelm you. Start by getting an overview of what each sector of software programming involves.

Every good developer should know at least one or two of these languages: Python, R, Java, JavaScript, C++, Go, and Rust; frameworks such as Springboot, Django, Node JS (for backend) and AngularJS, Angular 6, Redux, and React (for frontend).

Cloud computing, AI/ML, Full Stack, and Data Science seem to be sunrise-career options in the post-pandemic world.

Step 2: Find online resources

There are a host of resources online today. If you’re a beginner, try out sites that offer introductory courses — CodeSchool, Treehouse, multiple YouTube tutorials.

At an intermediate level, utilize community platforms like HackerEarth that let you practice, duel, upskill and interact with fellow developers.

I cannot stress the importance of joining a community enough. It helps greatly to have your peers for guidance and mentorship while learning a lot about the industry from experienced developers.

Step 3: Build, break, and build again

A developer is only as good as their code, so try to build as you learn. Remember to keep a repository of your builds on GitHub or similar platforms. Keep adding new features that you learned, to your project.

Don’t worry about being too ‘fancy’. Make errors, find out how to solve bugs, and eliminate mistakes from your code.

Step 4: Practice for interviews

Post gaining suitable mastery over your chosen language or tech stack, it’s time to look for a job — freelance or full-time.

Apart from writing clean code, a developer also needs to work on communication skills for interviews. Next to coding knowledge, engineering managers look for efficient workplace communication, and a good work ethic.

Step 5: Read, learn, and network

Software development is a rapidly shifting landscape. I recommend reading and following tech blogs from top brands (Netflix tech blog pops to mind).

An interactive way to upskill is via hackathons where you present groundbreaking ideas and network with developers from across the globe.

Expertise has started to trump other traditional criteria like academics, and previous experience, post-pandemic. This is the time for developers to grab their moment in the sun.

It is important to recognize that self-learning has its own challenges. It needs a high degree of self-reliance and comfort to learn in a non-traditional format. There will be bad days, and having a community or a mentor for support would be beneficial.

In the long run, hard work and self-reliance pay off. Solving real-world issues through technology is a beautiful feeling. So, keep at it, and keep coding!

– Article by Akshat Saxena, Head of Growth Marketing, HackerEarth

Read: Tips to learn coding for beginners of all ages: A complete guide for you to start coding NOW

Read: Why learn programming? 5 easy ways to learn coding at home

Read: 5 start-ups which teach coding in the most simple way

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