DEV Community

Cover image for Code Newbie Advice
Olivia Culver
Olivia Culver

Posted on

Code Newbie Advice

I started learning to code nearly a year ago in October 2018. Here's the advice I'd give to myself if I could go back in time and speak to past Olivia.

  1. Document everything you learn.
    Before I started learning I read a lot of articles and posts that encouraged students to keep a blog to document their code journey. With working full time and squeezing in at most 2 hours of coding a night I thought it'd be too much effort so I didn't.
    I regret this.
    Since I was short on time I could have been short with words, too. I should have just created a Twitter account to document my journey. I created a Twitter this month to document what I'm doing and I wish I had done this sooner.

  2. Join dev communities.
    I didn't know that so many existed online and they've been a great source of information, encouragement, wisdom, and support. Now I'm on a couple of Slack channels, Twitter, of course, and I've joined some tech organizations. They keep me accountable and excited about programming. I also have joined some tech meetups in my area. Being self-taught it's especially important to get together with other devs in real life to talk about programming and get used to interacting with other tech people.

  3. If you're programming to get a job learn about other job skills and the interviewing process earlier rather than later.
    I think a lot of newbies neglect this, and it's so important especially if, like me, this is more than just a hobby; it's a gateway to a better life and a fulfilling career.

  4. Learning and doing enhances confidence.
    I still don't feel super confident about my programming abilities but I've learned that knowledge and action are excellent ways to boost confidence. I've let my lack of confidence keep me from coding when I've had the time or opportunity to do so because I felt stupid or inadequate. This only reinforced my feelings of stupidity and inadequacy. Learn as much as you can and you'll feel empowered to learn even more and to build more.

  5. Believe you can and you're halfway there.
    Learning to code can be scary. It's frustrating and failure is inevitable, but if you keep faith and persevere through the challenges you will grow to be an awesome developer!

Top comments (3)

mersadajan profile image
Mersad Ajanovic

Hmmm, what are the benefits for No. 1 documenting everything?

About No. 4, feel the same. Did the "object-oriented programming in javascript" project in the full stack JS track where I had to build a four in a row game. I spent 15 hours today (it's 6 am here) to finish it.

It was great at first and 95% of the code was mine with minor takeaways from the teacher's notes. Later my game just didn't work and I couldn't figure out why. I had to replace half of my code with the provided teacher's code to get it running. Afterward, I felt like I didn't accomplish much and totally feel wasted right now haha

I believe in your No. 5, perseverance and consistency is key. Saw your tweet and joined the community (No. 2) ;)

I am still anxious about No. 3 because I just don't feel ready yet. When did you start applying for jobs, what was your skill level at when you started doing so and what is your feedback so far?

oculv21 profile image
Olivia Culver

Documenting everything cements the material in your head because it forces you to process what you just learned in order to write it down from memory. Processing information like that tells your brain to convert it from short-term memory (which you'll forget in like a day) to long-term memory. It's the same way teaching a subject helps you learn it better.

I'm just now applying for jobs since I've been programming for a year, I have built 6 websites, and I have a portfolio website to share. I think creating projects is the best way to determine job-readiness because they not only show potential employers your skills but they also allow you to solidify what you've learned. Once you've built some projects start learning more about how to get a dev job, whether that's through a book or watching YouTube videos.

mersadajan profile image
Mersad Ajanovic

Funny, just a few days ago I started vlogging on my phone. I want to do at least 30 days of daily vlogging and talk about stuff I learned, events that occurred and things I reflect about. I do it just for myself, nothing will get published and I kinda like it so far. Just me and my selfie camera haha.

In one of the videos, I think it was the one from yesterday, I talked about the use of repetition to hone your skills. Be it coding, sport or speaking. No matter how bad you are, as long as you keep doing it you will get better over time. There are so many examples that prove this, like Micheal Jordan practicing his throws to name a simple one.

You are on a good path with your projects! Everything I have researched so far tells me that the most important thing is to show your skills by displaying various projects you worked on. Nothing else really matters. Even a degree is not necessary if you have the right skills. Each project you finish increases your chance to get hired!