Programming is becoming a more and more useful skill for the future. Websites, games and apps when stripped down to the very basics all depend on it. Consequently, many bosses in digital fields are sending their employees on courses to get to grips with it, and it’s even become part of the school curriculum in many places around the world too. For instance, coding and robotics have become an integral part of STEAM classroom learning materials for kids. Educators are exploring hands-on STEAM coding robotics kits, such as those offered by KinderLab Robotics. The idea is to provide kids with interesting, playful, social learning experiences while developing computational thinking and problem solving skills from a very early age. This demonstrates the extreme importance that knowledge of coding has in current society, and it’s definitely an avenue worth exploring.
Whatever your age, becoming proficient in coding isn’t easy and takes patience, but if you’re eager enough to learn, here are some of the steps you should take.
Choose your language
The first step to coding is choosing your language. Any language is great for learning the ropes and other languages will be subsequently easier to learn afterwards. If web development is your focus area, HTML 5 is the best start. Python meanwhile is another good starting language for this purpose and is the basis sites such as Pinterest and Instagram. For writing software, C++ meanwhile is the best suited language.
Consider a course
It’s possible to self-teach yourself from books, blogs and Youtube tutorials, but if you prefer to be personally tutored there are a variety of courses out there to choose from. These may include workshops and online courses which you can fit around your working life. Programmes such as Codeacademy meanwhile are very popular, allowing you to learn online at your own pace. When getting to the more advanced material, many programmers may even take a few maths and physics classes to better understand the process behind writing algorithms.
Learn how to test
Half of programming is spent testing and finding bugs. It helps to learn some of the lingo. What is beta testing? What is unit testing? Familiarise yourself with these terms so that you can test any programme or website you make thoroughly. Consider signing up to alpha and beta testing programmes, helping other programmers to test their work and locate bugs.
Start your first project
Once you feel confident with a language you can start giving yourself personal projects. Don’t get ahead of yourself and try anything complex – start simple and build your way up. Eventually you can start laying out complex designs, using testing software and working with other programmers.
Work with others
Most of today’s coding is so elaborate that it requires mass teams of programmers all working on individual parts. Whether you want to work for another company or for yourself, you’ll want a team around you to complete projects in good time. Get used to working with others, as well as getting to grips with coding management tools and communication methods. Learn to annotate your work clearly so that others can read it and pick up from where you left off.
Find a job to use your skills
Those with coding knowledge are very much in demand. There are many freelance opportunities such as become a web developer, producing apps for others or coming up with your own sellable programme/video game. Contrastingly, you may want to work for a large company.
Go to coding networking events and try to get friendly with graphic designers and tech marketers. Hack-a-thons and game jams are good places to network too. Build up a portfolio of personal projects you have completed and other projects you may have done for other people. A voluntary or part-time position somewhere can look good on your CV. A friend may want a website developed for them or a programmer may be looking for a team of testers to help with their project. Keep an eye out for these opportunities as they will help you get your foot in the door.
Don’t wait to become an expert in coding before pursuing a job. Many reckon it takes 15,000 hours of programming before you can be considered a master. Until then keep practising. Entry level positions will have people that can guide you along the way and for entrepreneurial pursuits there are always open source programmes in which people can share complex codes and algorithms they’ve discovered, saving you the headache of learning these yourself through trial and error. Be diligent and you’ll end up with a well-paid job at the end of it.