How Should You learn to Code?

25 Apr 2015 . . Comments

Few discuss how to learn to code. I find that frustrating. So, I decided to answer the question. Here are my two cents:

Starting out

It's important to make sure you're headed in the right direction when you jump into programming. Whether it's Javascript, Ruby, Objective C, or Java, etc, you'll deal with an amalgam of choices of languages and paths to take, but you've come to that point:

You want to create something!



Is it necessary to quit your day job to learn to code?

I struggled with this question. I first thought it was possible when I got out of college and started working in digital marketing 40 hours a week. I taught myself Html and CSS and thought I could easily add javascript to my resume. However,  learning programming is completely different than mark up languages. After struggling for months, I decided to quit my job and go back to school and give myself time to learn to code. In my opinion, if you can do it while holding up a 40 hour week job, props to you!

Answer: Try it out before quitting your job. Don't let it get in the way. If becomes a problem, consider the costs and benefits of quitting your day job.

Should I have to pay to learn code?

I personally have only paid for books and did a lot of trial courses online. However, I feel this is not enough for me to learn efficiently and effectively. I strongly recommend buying a book and have a least one subscription to an online coding school. This saves you time and hassle from getting lost in the freebies. Instead, you'll spend more time on coding.

Answer: Pay for it, but pay as little as possible and don't take on all the freebies you can find.

What's better: paying for classroom coding school or online courses?

I couldn't learn online while holding up a day job. So, I decided to quit my job, get my masters, and go to coding school. I see the online courses as great ways to learn all the tricks of the trade, but I don't think it beats the classroom. The downside is coding schools cost loads of money. There are some social enterprises that teach code for free for particular groups. In London,  CodeFirst Girls and Django Girls are free and provide excellent coding courses. Search your local coding schools online and see what your city has to offer. Plus, you can go to many free networking events to meet other programmers.

Answer: If you can do it online, you are a pro. If you have some time and cash, go to some classroom coding events (meetups) in your local area and figure out what works for you.

How long will it take to become a employable programmer?

Good programmers spend years perfecting their craft. I'd say you become an employable programmer after being employed for a couple of years. How's that possible?

I started learning a month or so ago. I'm still learning the bits and pieces and not yet employable. Some coding schools tout that it takes 6-12 weeks to learn code and get hired. However, just because you may get the job, it does not mean you are qualified.

Plenty of people stumble into jobs as junior programmers. They know some code and put an app or two together, but they show potential. After a couple of years, programmers become more comfortable with collaboration in git and slack. They know how to freelance and how much they are worth. Plus, they know how to code efficiently, saving themselves and their employers time.

Answer: You aren't employable until you've held a programming job or have worked in the industry - so learn, make something, get hired, and learn some more.


How should I learn to code? 

Follow these rules:

  1. Sleep. Get at least 8 hours a sleep, even if your code is broken.
  2. Eat lots of pizza because it's awesome and a superpower.
  3. Pay more attention to your loved ones. Breaks pay dividends ;)
  4. Take advantage of public transport - download or buy an ebook or practice on your phone/laptop - if you drive - download podcasts
  5. Blog about your experience. You don't have to, but it helps me.
  6. You will become addicted. Keep track of your other priorities in a detailed manner.
  7. Try out more than one language. You'll be amazed how similar all the languages are. Plus, the differences will give you a better understanding of the code you're learning.

I've only just started my coding journey, I've learned a lot from networking events and my peers. Look out for coding resources and guides in my future blog posts.


Time to play with some Ruby.