Learning new skills and trades is something that everyone could benefit from, no matter what skill it is. Adding to your repertoire can advance your professional or academic career and lead you down better paths in life. Picking up new skills isn’t easy though, especially if you are doing it on the side or by yourself. Self-learning is quite a difficult task knowing that you are the only person involved in this process, and your success depends on how disciplined you are.
Coding and Programming is quite difficult in its own right, even with a professor or a course – it involves plenty of reading and writing lines and lines of code with no end, long, all-night sessions of coding, and countless hours of lost sleep. Self-learning added on to the stress of learning programming and coding, is another mountaintop that will be difficult to reach. Of course, it’s not impossible, but there is definitely more leg-work to do on your own.
Where do I begin?
It all has to start somewhere, and usually it’s finding out your personal and professional goals. What is the motivation to being self-learning programming and coding? Do you already work in an IT company and just wish to expand your knowledge? Or maybe you want to shift gears and get into an IT company and begin your professional career in IT? Maybe you just want to discover a new hobby and program some simple things. Whatever your goals are, having an idea of where you want to end up will definitely motivate you to begin learning.
The next step is to determine which specialty of coding you’d like to go into. There are things like cybersecurity, robotics, A.I., computer systems, website and so much more that you can delve into and learn. Find what you’re interested in – and do a little research on it so you can start moving in the right direction.
Okay, so I’ve decided I want to do this!
If you’re dedicated and determined to reach this goal – here’s several tips to get the ball rolling and staying focused on your programming goals.
- Reading is Key
The academic literature behind programming and coding languages set the foundation for learning all sorts of languages and systems. They might share common characteristics or logic systems that you can build upon. Experts in coding and programming have learnt the basics and the foundations to get to where they are today – so this is an important step in staying on track and learning.
- Know the Basics
Learning codes like Python, Java, or C++ or C# require a certain level of knowledge at the base level. They are like branches of a tree, with most of them having similar structures or logic that you can apply to different systems. Master the fundamentals to progress towards mastery of other languages.
- Be Consistent
Nothing slows you down more than yourself, especially when it comes to self-learning. Since everything depends on your actions, it’s fair to say that you can easily give up and stop trying at the sight of laziness. Be consistent in your work to keep focus, otherwise you’ll lose the motivation to continue. Self-discipline while teaching yourself is essential to make any type of progress.
- Make Benchmarks
When you’re self-learning code, there aren’t any tests or exams. There’s only practical application of your skills, so it’s a good idea to “test” your progress by setting a benchmark of what you can do or not practically. Set a goal like “make a website” or “fix a bug for a website” to see what skills you have learned enough to use.
- Explore material
You may be working and learning from a course book or curriculum – but in order to keep focus on teaching yourself code you shouldn’t be afraid to find other materials related to the topic. It could provide insight and other angles to approach programming code. There are plenty of experts that can provide the right literature and resources for your topics so you’ll always have something to read up on.
- Practice practice practice!
When it comes to computer programming and writing code, the best thing to stay focused and working is to practice. They say that it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to master something, and the same could be said about learning code. There are various coding languages, each with their own unique system and flow that you’ll have to adjust to and analyze. The more your practice the better you’ll be.
- Learn from Others
It’s a common misconception that self-learning is done alone. Self-learning doesn’t mean learning alone – it just means that you are motivated to learn outside of a course or curriculum. So you can still reach out to others for help to supplement your learning. There are plenty of forums and expert tutor sites to guide you through key concepts and hard-to-grasp ideas. Sometimes professors will do a free online workshop for other college and university students that the community can also participate in.
- Digest the Material Smartly
There’s a lot of information out there and its hard to memorize all of it in such a short time. Learning code isn’t about memorizing but about applying techniques and skills to produce working code. Its best to take the information and digest it in smaller chunks so it’s easier to handle. Cramming a lot of information in your brain is bad, but it’s proven that learning in smaller chunks actually help you remember and retain information better.
- Teach What You’ve Learned
It truly shows you know the material you’ve learned by teaching to someone else and having them understand. You’ll see that you know the in’s and out’s of the coding language and you can troubleshoot or clear up and problems you may have in explaining it.
- Reverse Engineer Some Other Work
A surefire way to completely understand code is to reverse engineer it. This shows that you know the code, literally forwards and back, and can work it down to the most miniscule detail. There are lots of open source codes available to practice this, GitHub has been used by many not only to reverse engineer, but as inspiration! Be sure to be care that it’s open source codes that you are using to avoid any controversy.
Whether you’re a complete newbie or an intermediate learner or even an expert trying to expand their knowledge, self-learning code and programming can be quite a task. Following these tips to stay focus and motivated will push you to the next level.