I have been asked this question a few times by friends I graduated with, often they have completed a Computer science degree (or something similar) but never got into the industry and have forgotten everything around this subject.
So grab yourself a coffee as I whittle through my experience and give some tips around this towards the end.
5 years ago I found myself with this exact same problem. I worked as a developer for about a year at this point but my company had decided to shift me to a team that was support heavy, my work day did not allow for any development and as a result I became rusty.
In a bid to get back to development I started to read blogs and articles relating to development, meaningless terms filled my head like F#, BDD, CI, I really had no confidence in my ability anymore.
So what did I do? Firstly I had to admit to myself I had forgotten the basics, I had to also tell myself that I can recover from this position, I can get back into this, I had to have confidence in myself.
Next I needed a plan, I did C# in university and had been writing with it before this slump, so I dug up a series of tutorials on C#. I would often stop the video while the speaker went through examples and would attempt to follow the code but this took too long and I wasn't really progressing. The content of the tutorials were good and the speaker was easy to follow but I kept getting lost. I figured I would change my workflow. I came up with this:
Watch video -> Attempt to write code -> Rewatch if I got stuck.
I did this for the rest of the tutorials and I found I was a little bit more confident in my abilities.
Now I needed to test my refound skills, I wrote a few programs but I couldn't stick to a single idea, I got would often jump around different things, I couldn't stay focused. I picked one idea which was my unfinished final year project from university and planned it out, decided what framework I would use, what features to implement and more importantly gave myself little deadlines. Though the project was unsuccessful it still was useful for writing a testbed of things I had learnt.
Often my advice to people who approach me with this question would be:
- Ask your self why do you want to go in development?
- Can you make time to learn and practice?
- Have you got the passion still?
If you can answered these honestly and still want to get back into the groove than go and do it. The web has tons of free well thought out tutorials or sites like udemy & Lynda do sales all the time.
If you can find someone in friendly who is a software developer, and talk to them, converse and see if you can keep up with conversation with them. I did this with a tech lead years ago and as soon as I could understand and form opinions on what we were discussing I knew I was back in the game.
Any opinions or thoughts, just drop them in the comments below.