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Sebastian Stüwe
Sebastian Stüwe

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10,000 hours...?

How long to reach somewhere substantial?

Malcolm Gladwell (and other writers, some of them with scholarly aptitude) estimate that 10,000 hours of learning puts you on par with true masters in most, if not all fields. Talent may be important, too - especially when it comes to the last 1%. I'd say, previous experience helps as well.

The implicit question

I assume that only very few jobs require full mastery of coding concepts and related subjects. Yet, I have no idea how many honest hours of work are required to reach to a solid entry level.

The idea

This is a social experiment with n=1. As such, it is hardly any proof, but might give some guiding clues as to what efforts are required. I am going to keep track of all my activities and time spent becoming a coder. Until I give up or survive on my projects!

The challenge

My time stretches between family, work, garden and learning. I wouldn't wanna miss out on most if not all - so understanding how much time I spend on learning can quickly become fuzzy and - in hindsight - not very useful to know and tell. I'll try to recap my learning time and list it here on a weekly basis, to get a better understanding of the idea of "developer in a year". I (re-)started coding on March 31, 2021. Never thought about publishing anything, so the first 25 days are lost to oblivion - what I am estimating here is from memory and based on my calendar.

Backlog #1-#25

  • Enrolled in a commercial self-paced JavaScript course - so far I've done about 40% of the contents which cover: basics, arrays, objects, DOM manipulation. 30 hours
  • I had done some HTML about 20 years back, but never pursued that path in my life. 120 hours
  • I went through FreeCodeCamp's web designer course (HTML + CSS), although I did this last year while I was unemployed for a month and I don't remember much of it. I estimate that I spent about 30 hours on it, as I do remember designing some graphics to make the project sites look nicer. 30 hours
  • I've read half of "clean code" and I understood about 95% so far!! 5 hours
  • I realised that I had a git-account which was totally unused, so I started using git (and learning the basics). 2 hours
  • I have helped a few people on freecodecamp with challenges they faced. 6 hours
  • I have started programming a simple card game as a learning project. It's not working yet, but I'll get there! 30 hours

Total time spent on learning: 223 hours

Where do I stand today?

I am fairly confident in understanding the language of JavaScript, HTML and CSS, although I have not spent much time understanding patterns. It is just today that I've begun to look into concepts, such as block scope, IIFE, MVC and the like.

What about you?

How many hours would you say are required to become employable? How far are you down the road? How do you overcome hills and mountains?

Keep up! All the best,

Top comments (6)

iamntz profile image
Ionut Staicu • Edited

Gladwels's 10.000 hours is a misinterpretation from a study of Anders Ericsson.

The gist is that you don't need only 10.000 hours, you need meaningful practice to become a master.

The reality, however, is that you don't always need to become a master in your field (ok, you're mastering JS, but what about your editor? your version control? your X or Y?), but you need to be proficient.

And that's slightly more achieveable.

This is a nice video on this subject:

From your list, this one poped out:

I've read half of "clean code" and I understood about 95% so far!! 5 hours

If you have next to zero experience, I'm pretty sure you didn't understood 95% of what you've read from Clean Code. Also, is not really a book that I'd recommend you if you don't have enough experience with not-so-clean code.

To answer your question: if you get past understanding language structure (variables, scopes, functions, recursion and so on), stop following courses and start building stuff. Usually creating a clone of a popular app (e.g. Facebook, Reddit) would teach you a LOT more than a course can.

Following introductory courses will only give you a false sense of accomplishment, but in the end you get close to nothing.

beitist profile image
Sebastian Stüwe

Ionut - thanks for your insight. I wasn't aware of the misinterpretation, but it does make sense, I'd say, in particular when you apply it to something that is not an isolated skill.

I will take your advice and work on realistic projects. I have a million ideas and it is quite tempting to follow all those "learn me now!" blogs and vlogs and courses, but it's not for the learning in itself. Thanks!

iamntz profile image
Ionut Staicu

is quite tempting to follow all those "learn me now!" blogs and vlogs and courses

At best, you'll get amazingly good at... copying stuff. Monkey see, monkey do.

I think that's easy to fall into tutorial porn and follow blindly everything, but the endgoal should be „be good at doing/creating/fixing stuff”.

Problem solving skill is just like a muscle: you have to train it over and over again to get better.

What do you think would be more beneficial in the long run (you don't have to answer me, you have to answer yourself):

  1. copying (or even worse: copy/pasting!) from a video/book by following a tutorial step by step OR
  2. trying to come up to solutions you don't even know you'd have?
Thread Thread
beitist profile image
Sebastian Stüwe

Makes a lot of sense, Ionut, and I love your direct language! tutorial porn is definitely a term I'll add to my long-term memory.

And the implicit answer is obvious. :-)

thuhtetdev profile image
Thu Htet Tun

I have my fav saying:
"Have you ever tired of breathing in your life.....?"
It means we are breathing every seconds in our lives.. right? But we are never tired of breathing and never noticed sometimes. Then, we grow up day by day..
That's is. We need to do our passionate job like breathing..
So, we don't have to count hours in general..
But if it had to say, we need about 10 years to be master at somethings...

Thanks for Nice article, Sebastian.

beitist profile image
Sebastian Stüwe

Thu - you're hitting a nerve with your comment. It's more of a philosophical question, but it is wise to ask:

a) do you work to live -or-
b) do you live your work?

For a long time, I thought I did b), but since I returned from my time abroad I am doubting what I am currently doing. So that's why I have turned my attention to coding to bring all those projects to life that sleep in my mind at the moment. :-)

All the best to you!