Hi there! My name is Sophia and this is my very first post. When I first started learning to code, there were lots of mistakes I made that probably set me back for a while and I thought I should write about them so that other new developers can learn from it.
So here are five things I would do differently if I had to go back and do it all over again.
PS. This is my own experience and what I would have liked to know at the time I was just starting out so feel free to take everything I've written with a grain of salt.
The mistake some of us make is trying to learn in isolation. When I initially started learning, I spent almost a year going in circles. I didn't know anyone else who was into what I was trying to do. Real-life and even online. So I kept jumping from tutorial to tutorial, not really mastering anything. At some point, I completely lost interest and went almost 3 months not coding. The turning point for me was when I found a discord channel from FCC(freecodecamp). I met others who were at the same place I was and made connections. They helped keep me going and motivated when I felt helpless because, let's admit it, coding is hard and you're going to face difficulties as you go. The importance of a community can never be over-emphasized. It could be physical or virtual. For my circle and I, we went the virtual way and it has been really great. As early as you can, find a community that interests you and meet others who are on the same journey with you and also others who have gone through. A good place to find these communities is on Twitter. Get active. Interact with other developers. These connections can also help when you're ready for the job hunt.
When we are new at something, it's easy to always try figuring things on your own. But if you have been in the tech space for any amount of time, you would have probably heard someone say there are no stupid questions. It will help if you develop the habit of asking questions early on. There's no use to stay stuck on a problem for longer than necessary when there are people who can help you out. Also, build up your googling skills. Asking questions can be on google to friends or other community members.
I've often heard people say everything is possible with tech. They say if you want to change your life, learn to code. While all of that is very enticing because, obviously, who doesn't want a better life? But what they don't tell you is how important it is to manage your expectations. I've read countless articles where the authors talk about how they learned to code and got six-figure salaries within 6 months. Exciting right? Now you wanna learn and get the same results in six months or possibly less. What you should know is, that isn't the case for a good percentage of devs out there. Some took 2 years or more to learn and get job-ready and then spent even more time before getting full-time jobs. So I say again, you must manage your expectations. This is because it's easy to lose interest and motivation quickly when you set out with a four-month goal and it's six months and you aren't where you planned to be. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you can't learn to code and be successful in a very short time or that you shouldn't push yourself as fast and hard as you can. No. I'm saying that things don't always go the way we plan and there's always difficulties along the way. Just learn to pick yourself up and keep going no matter what. And that would be my last point: determination.
As good as joining a community is, having a mentor is also very important. A mentor doesn't necessarily have to be someone very advanced. Just someone who can assist when you need it. I got my first mentor almost a year after I started learning web dev. It was in the discord community and I can say he really helped me through some rough patches. Those times I wanted to give up, he was there encouraging me to just keep going. He knew exactly what I was feeling because he had gone through the same journey just a few years earlier.
According to Wikipedia: 'Determination is a positive emotional feeling that involves persevering towards a difficult goal despite obstacles. Determination occurs before goal attainment and serves to motivate behavior that will help achieve one's goal.' Simply put, a determination is 'firmness of purpose'. Determination is really important in your journey. If you're not determined to see your goal through, you'll easily get discouraged by the sheer volume of what you have to learn. And it is really tempting to just give up when you first start learning concepts and you cant understand. Be determined! Keep going! It will eventually pay off.
Thanks a lot for reading. If you got this far and you liked my writing, feel free to reach out to me or say hi on Twitter @sophia_enax.