When you’re not in the tech scene, it can seem almost impenetrable, we should know. But in this post we’re here to tell you it’s really not so hard to get the skills you need to become a programmer if it’s something you really want to do. With the right support, motivation, knowledge and experience your career in tech is within arm’s reach.
In this post we’re going to discuss first what steps to take and in what order to take them when you’re first starting out, and then we’ll provide a list of excellent places you can learn to code to get that brand new career in motion.
Want to learn to code? Here you’ll find what to learn, where and how to get your new career off to a flying start.
Don’t let Kate Ray’s hilarious post on TechCrunch put you off your dream of becoming a web developer, have a read of our five steps on how to learn to code and get into the tech scene.
1. Have A Goal
Decide what you want to create. Do you have an idea for the next big social network? Do you have an idea for a great app? A useful tool that you’ve always needed and not found anywhere? If you think there’s a need for it and it doesn’t already exist, you can be the one to create it. Your app might be something that your family / job / journey to work has inspired you to create. For example, top model and longtime coder Lyndsey Scott created an app for her ‘book’ – the portfolio of photographs, campaigns and experience that models take along to fashion castings to give casting directors an idea of what they’ve done before. The app is called iPort, which allows models to upload their ‘book’ or portfolio onto an iPad. She said:
‘I built that app because it was something I personally needed,’ she said. ‘My book always ends up looking terrible, the books fall apart, the pages are tearing, it’s dirty, and it’s a mess.’
If you’ve noticed a gap in the market or a need that hasn’t yet been met, that’s where your app or website could come in.
2. Learn To Code
Martin Ramsin our CTO and co-founder at CareerFoundry first learned to code using Codecademy and from free tutorials. He found these online resources helped him with learning syntax but found the real difficulty occurred when he was trying to find out which tools to use, how to deploy, understand Git etc, in other words how to work as a web developer. Raffaela – CareerFoundry’s CEO and co-founder – and Martin founded CareerFoundry based on these observations as they realised that students need more than just tutorials to learn web development, they need the support and expertise of someone who has already been there. It is for this reason that our mentors are at the centre of everything we do. While you are learning to code it’s crucial to have someone you can ask direct questions to about the small, fiddling things to do with programming, but what’s also invaluable is having someone on-hand who can give you advice in your career, help you build a portfolio or find work. We put together a list of 20 ways you can learn to code, so have a read and find out which option is best for you. At the end of this post we’ll also be reviewing the best online and offline schools for learning to code.
As David Shariff, Senior Engineer at Yahoo told us: “Don’t settle for knowing a concept, roll your sleeves up and dig as deep as you can.”
3. Google For Solutions
Someone once told me that when you’re learning how to program you really learn how to Google stuff like a pro. This is a key skill as a developer. All of the answers you need to any question you might have you will find online, but knowing HOW and WHERE to find them is the touch part. You need to learn exactly which search terms are going to get you the answers you need, whether you find them on GitHub or StackOverFlow or on some obscure forum. When you understand how to Google for things you’ll find learning code will be much faster. It is part of the learning process to get from problem to solution in as little time as possible – and when you are under pressure in a real, working environment this skill will be invaluable.
4. Copy Cool Things
Copy cool things you find on great websites like widgets, videos, parallax images etc. (do view source on a page). Add it to your code. Then try to understand what it is doing. This is a great way to learn any new skills and impress your friends by having something advanced to show at a relatively early stage in your learning. Websites like TryRuby are great for practicing what you’ve learnt directly in your browser without having to download any software.
5. Showcase Your Work
When you are pitching to do a job as a web developer you’re not asked to show your certificates, you’re asked to show what projects you have been part of creating already. This is why it’s really important to build up a portfolio of work – websites, apps, code, to show in your interview. You may also be asked technical questions in your interview, so it’s good to be prepared – read up on websites like StackOverFlow, ask questions on there and answer questions if you think you can. You’ll be building up a profile and reputation while you’re doing it. The best way to showcase your work to employers is to set up your Github page and show your projects from there.
What’s the difference between programming languages?
The whole point of Ruby was to be a coding language that is simple and easy to code. It was designed as a scripting language for building websites and mobile apps and is dynamic and object-orientated. Ruby powers the Ruby On Rails framework which is used on heaps of websites, including Groupon and GitHub. Ruby is considered a good starting language for beginners.
Developed by Sun Microsystems Java is a class-based, object-oriented programming language. It’s a super popular programming language, a standard for enterprise software, web-based content, games and mobile apps, as well as the Android operating system. The way Java is designed is so it can work across multiple software platforms, so a program written on Mac OS X can also run on Windows.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used for describing the look and formatting of a document written in a markup language. The language can be applied to any kind of XML document, but is most often used to style web pages and user interfaces written in HTML and XHTML. CSS is a cornerstone specification of the web, and almost every web page use CSS style sheets to describe their presentation.
C++ is an intermediate-level language with object-oriented programming features, originally designed to enhance the C language. C++ powers major software like Firefox,Winamp and Adobe programs. It’s used to develop systems software, application software, high-performance server and client applications and video games.
Python is a high-level, server-side scripting language for websites and mobile apps. It’s considered to be a relatively straight forward language for beginners due to its readability and compact syntax, meaning developers can use fewer lines of code to express a concept than they would in other languages. It powers the web apps for Instagram, Pinterest and Rdio through its associated web framework, Django, and is used by Google, Yahoo! and NASA.
Where can I learn to code?
Now if you talk to any web developer they will assure you that they’ve been tinkering around on computers since they were in nappies, or even before. Maybe that’s true, but just because you haven’t doesn’t mean you can’t learn now. It’s easy to feel intimidated by technological language or jargon, but see it as a challenge and don’t feel disheartened; it is never too late to learn and there are a number of fantastic resources out there, both paid for and for free, to get you to where you want to be: working as a web developer. And the pay off will be worth it, for once you’re working freelance or in a small team as a programmer you’ll have the opportunity to create beautiful tools, apps and websites that impact on people’s lives. Quite an incentive, eh? But where do you start? Do you try to do it alone? Do you ask friends? Look online? Sign up to a course? The numerous options can be a mindfield to someone new to the industry. Here are just a few that might help make that decision a little easier for you.