Faisal has recently graduated from Northcoders. We asked him what advice he’d give to anyone who wanted to start their coding adventure.
1- Just do it
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”
We have all heard this about a million times. Yet it does not make it any easier to get started! In fact, it can be very daunting to make the first step learning to code, due to the amount of conflicting information and very strong opinions that are floating around the internet and technical circles. This is the reason why many people end up giving up on coding before they even get started. I was no exception to this, after all, learning a language that is “dying” was the last thing I wanted to spend my time doing. This has demotivated me and ended up costing me many months that could be spent more productively. Thankfully I did not give up, otherwise, I would not be here telling my story. The truth is that learning to code is more about problem-solving than it is about typing.
Therefore, picking any modern programming language with any programming text editor is all you need to get started practising problem-solving skills. Once you have mastered one tool, you will be gladly surprised by how easy it is to pick up another one if you needed. So, if you have made your decision about learning to code, stick to it. Get yourself enrolled in a coding bootcamp, get the books you need, listen to the coding podcasts and start making amazing things!
2- Learn In Small Chunks
“The perfect is the enemy of the good”
Remember, there will always be a better way to solve a problem than your solution. This can be a good thing! If you take advantage of it. Embrace the fact that you have solved the problem, look for improvement, and move on! Don’t let the pursuit of perfection slow you down. Don’t be ashamed of what you achieved and show your achievement to the world. Make your repos public and ask for feedback! After all, even Bill Gates had to write a “hello world” program one day.
3- Take credit when credit it’s due
“Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not Who Someone Else Is Today”
In your journey, you are likely to be surrounded by very skilled people. This can be a great opportunity to refine your skills. However, this can crush your motivation if you start comparing yourself to others. Instead, be fair to yourself, and remember that benchmark your today’s work against yesterday’s and focus on making tomorrow’s even better.
4- Pair programming wins
"Assume that everyone you meet knows something you don’t"
One of the many things I appreciated at Northcoders was pair programming. This is a software development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. Although it may not sound very productive to let two programmers work on the same machine, it has centrally its huge advantages which are often overlooked. Having two people attempting to solve a problem can often lead to producing better code since it promotes a great deal of planning and technical discussions on the pros and cons of each way of tackling problems. Although producing better code is great, the effectiveness of sharing knowledge between peers is the real win here when taken with the right attitude.
5 - Always take the stairs if you can
“Exercise is the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today”
If you have written any computer code, you would very well know that it can be a mentally challenging task. To learn to code, you often find yourself pushing your brain to its limit. Thus, it is probably a good idea to make an effort to maximize your mental energy. Although it is very under-appreciated, physical exercise might be the single best thing that someone could do to boost mental performance.
In my experience, leaving my comfort zone and committing to attending at least three gym classes a day has profound benefits on my mood, mental energy and focus as well as other health and physical benefits. This is an inspiring TedTalk presentation by neural scientist Wendy Suzuki, about the brain-changing effects of exercise that she discovered about the brain, and how it has influenced her career change.