I know learning how to code as a code newbie can be tough at times. Cycling through tutorial after tutorial, with nothing really “sticking”–a state of perpetual tutorial purgatory. Getting in too deep with advanced projects you probably weren’t ready for. Chasing bugs for hours, only to realize that you misspelled a variable name or left out a semicolon.
I remember the hardest thing in the very beginning was finding the time to code. We all live busy lives, so making that extra hour to code after work at times seemed impossible. And it wasn’t just finding the time–it was also a real challenge to even know where to begin, what resources to use, and how to manage my self-study.
Any of that sound familiar? If so, this post is for you. I wanted to share some words of encouragement to reassure you that learning how to code is absolutely worth it and anybody who truly commits themselves can learn to code. But, in order to do that, you need to know what strategies, resources, and mentors are out there just waiting to give you the boost you need to break through.
How Can I Be So Sure?
Five years ago, I was a total code newbie. If you showed me a piece of code, I wouldn’t know what to do with it–if I could even tell you it was code at all!
But through a process of trial-and-error, some much-needed encouragement from some generous folks who had once been in my shoes, and a stint in an intensive coding bootcamp, I was able to achieve my educational goals and start an exciting and fulfilling career in the heart of the tech sector.
Now I’m the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and co-founder of the venture-backed San Francisco startup, Career Karma.
This is why I am so confident that no matter your background, age, or anything else, you too can find success learning to code and eventually break into the tech career you’ve always wanted–code newbie or not. But there’s no doubt that it’s a challenge. Anybody who’s ever attempted a major career change into the constantly evolving tech economy would tell you the same.
And that’s exactly why I wanted to reach out to you with this post: to let you know you’re not alone and that there are some relatively simple things you can do to get the most out of your coding education. So, if you’re feeling discouraged, maybe even thinking about giving up, please read on and let me show you how I was able to work through many of the same challenges and frustrations you’re facing now.
Developing Discipline When Learning to Code
If you’re concerned that you won’t get there, don’t worry: you will. It’s like going to the gym–the most important thing is being disciplined and consistent. Of course, this is easier said than done. But if you are honest with yourself, are truly committed to your coding journey, and can find a couple of peers or mentors to cheer you on, nothing will stand in your way of developing the habits and discipline to learn how to go from code newbie to code master.
Escaping the Cycle of Tutorial Purgatory
I soon realized that I was running in place. After spending all this time “learning,” I still couldn’t build a project from scratch, and most importantly, I didn’t have the confidence to explore on my own. I realized that I was trapped in tutorial purgatory.
There are few things in life more demoralizing than devoting significant time and energy into something you’re passionate about, only to find out too late that you haven’t made any meaningful progress toward your goals. That’s when I knew I had to find a way out of this cycle of tutorial purgatory. I was certain there had to be a better way, and I wasn’t going to let this frustrating setback defeat me. In other words, I realized I had to learn how to learn to code.
Learning How to Learn to Code
One day, I decided I would build a chat app–no matter what. No excuses. No procrastinating. I told myself that it didn’t matter that I was a newbie programmer. I set a goal and committed to working, striving, and struggling until I succeeded. And boy did I struggle tremendously!
There was no instructor to guide me or answers to look up. I had to figure out how to write code on my own using Google, Stack Overflow, and GitHub. I had to try and fail over and over, learning more about the art of coding each step of the way. It was this trial by fire that ultimately led to success: I built my app.
It was after I built that app that I knew I had what it takes to become an engineer. What is the “it” that I suddenly realized I had? I had finally learned how to learn to code. To this day, I firmly believe that this may be the best introduction to coding I could have asked for, and I’ve seen many promising code newbies through Career Karma make this same amazing transformation.
Embracing the Challenge of the Unknown
Every single day, I’m faced with technical issues and bugs I’ve never seen before. Being a software engineer means getting comfortable with not knowing the answer but knowing that the answer is out there–and that you will find it!
That’s the key: you have to first realize that you’ll never know it all and then, most importantly, come to love the fact that there is always–always–more to learn and new challenges to face. This is what makes any great career or endeavor fulfilling and worthwhile: the endless possibility.
Connecting with Your Support Squad
Is it possible to go through all this and learn to code on your own? Of course. But why rob yourself of the beauty that is a caring and encouraging support network? The tech community has long been celebrated for its community-minded, pay-it-forward mentality. You owe it to yourself and your goals to tap into this whole world of tech veterans who have been where you are, peers who still are where you are, and up-and-coming learners who will eventually be where you are.
All this is to say that there were tons of people around me who helped me learn how to code and supported me in my journey. And I want to give that same kind of support and encouragement to you, as you learn to code.
If you’re someone who is starting to learn how to code, exploring coding bootcamps, or at any other stage of your journey to break into tech, please get in touch. Career Karma is a team of dedicated coaches and mentors to help aspiring coders get the education they need to start their dream careers in tech. We’re committed to guiding ambitious learners through all the challenges that we experienced ourselves when we were just beginning to learn how to code. We will do whatever we can to help pull you up and get you where you want to be.
Artur Meyster, CTO of Career Karma