How To Learn To Code

4 Simple Steps To Learning To Code

How To Learn To Code

Did “learn to code” make your list of goals this year? If it did you may be wondering where to start? If making a career change into tech also made that list then you know already know the wide range of jobs, qualifications, and experience needed. As you peruse the job listings you may find that the required qualifications look more like a list of nonsense words you have never heard of:

C+ Java Python Ruby PHP

SQL Pig Hive MongoDB

Hadoop Apache Spark

The list of jumbled letters and strange words could go on for pages, you may even wonder are these actual qualifications or is someone playing a crule joke?

It was around this time last year that I knew I wanted to transition my career into the tech space. Believe me I know, taking a glance at the job qualifications can be downright disheartening. Those job postings are full of qualifications that you have never even heard of, let alone have!

Now take a deep breath, because it gets better. You don’t have to know all of the computer programing languages, libraries, or technologies to get your first job. You will need to know a few relevant technologies for your field, the importnat thing now is to figure out where to focus your efforts.

There is no exact science to it, the most important thing is that you get started. I am going to share with you the exact steps I took to decided what language to learn that helped me get my first tech job.

1. Pick Your Path

Decided what it is you would like to do. The minimum skills need to be a front end web developer are far different than those needed to be a data analyst. Decided what it is you would like to do in tech then focus your efforts there.

Not sure what you would like to do? Don’t let that stop you from getting started, you can always learn something new if you find a different field you are passionate about along the way. The most important thing right now is to start. Don’t let the fear of learning the “wrong thing” keep you from getting started.

2. Make A Master List

Have you selected the type of tech job you would like to go after? Great! The next step is to look up job postings in your area. Start browsing your local job boards to see what companies in your area are looking for. Start a master list of the qualifications listed in each post. While it may look overwhelming at first by putting the qualifications for each of those jobs in one place you will start to see where they overlap.

In my own search, I found that almost all of the job postings I was interested in were looking for someone who could program in Python. In your own list, you will begin to see a pattern as well. Once you get a good idea of which languages are required for your field you will know where to focus your studies first.

3. Find A Course

Find a course. We are privileged to live in a time when anyone with a computer and an internet connection has access to limitless amounts of information. You can learn anything online from how to change out your bathroom faucet (speaking from experience) to machine learning algorithms! There are tons of free resources as well as paid courses, it is all about finding what will work best for you.

Personally, I first tried putting together my own course from free YouTube videos, and while I gained some basic understanding of coding and could write some simple scripts I found it time-consuming to try and find the right videos to watch next. Ultimately I felt I was wasting precious time trying to find quality content and create my own ciriculum.

I also tried TreeHouse which I think was great for a first time program. The Python course does a great job of breaking down concepts into very small, easily digestible pieces of information. But, after about a month I felt like I had no understanding of how to use the code outside of the TreeHouse platform. It was a great way to get started, and if you feel intimidated by the idea of coding I would say it is the perfect place to get your feet wet. but personally I felt like I needed a course that would show me real world applications. Which lead me to my favorite platform for learning to code!  

My favorite platform for learning to code so far has been the courses on Udemy. My favorite courses so far are The Python Mega Course: Build 10 Real World Applications and Machine Learning A-Z, and if you are interested in web development The Web Development Bootcamp is great! The courses come with hours of video instruction and real world examples that help you build code you can actually use.

4. Take The Leap

Whatever platform you choose to learn code the final step is to jump in! When learning something completely new we have a tendency to hesitate. If you have no background in programming even the beginning lessons may feel like you were thrown in the deep end. I’ve been there! But the best thing you can do is trust that you will figure it out along the way. It is ok not to understand how it all comes together yet, keep gathering pieces of the puzzle until you start to see the big picture.

Making the big leap and changing careers can be scary, but you will be amazed at how quickly you can learn. After just a couple of months of self study I was able to get a job as a digital analyst. Was I the best programmer? Nope. But the company was impressed with my drive, they loved that I was learning Python on my own and that I was data driven. I may not have had all the skills they were looking for but I had shown a willingness to learn which gave them the confidence that they could teach me what I needed to know on the job.

There is so much you don’t know when changing careers, but if you take that leap of faith you will learn what you need to along the way. Are you looking at changing careers? Tell me in the comments below what are you doing right now to make it happen?

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