Curious about how to practice coding?
Did you know the average entry-level salary for a computer programmer is $70,000 to $80,000? Pay varies considerably depending on your location. The highest paying areas are the Bay Area and New York City. Close runners-up include Denver and Seattle.
And tech companies prefer to hire young coders over aging engineers. It’s the perfect field for the young and driven. It’s one of the few fields which pay a competitive salary and doesn’t require a college degree.
That means a lower barrier to admission. Anyone with time and desire can learn. All you need is a modern laptop and an internet connection.
The trick to getting hired is to set yourself apart from the rest of the chaff. You must become an expert in at least one coding language. To discover how to take your skills from greenhorn programmer to elite coder, read on.
The most common advice you’ll find online for novice coders is to simply dive in head first and begin coding. This is, of course, complete nonsense. That’s like telling someone who’s entirely illiterate just to jump in and start reading.
There’s a reason why elementary school teachers begin their language lessons by learning the alphabet. In that same way, coders must learn to recognize rudimentary elements of their language’s syntax and structure.
Study the core elements of your language until you can write each of them down correctly from memory. You’ll pick up the peripheral, more complex portions later on. Begin with the essentials.
You also want to understand the broad strokes of computer science. To become an expert, you must know how your corner of the digital world interacts with the rest of the digital universe. For that, start with free courses at Codecademy or Treehouse.
Note: Some of you may still be in a quandary and haven’t decided which language(s) to start with. Here’s a list of the most important coding languages to help get you started.
Before you begin applying these strategies, make sure you understand modern computing devices. Also, know what parts make up the internet and what elements make up the core of your coding language.
If you don’t know the above, you’ll run into significant snags down the line. You’ve been forewarned.
Now that you’ve memorized a few core building blocks, what do you do with them? You have a long way to go before you can write an entire game or application. Even a simple one is still beyond your reach.
What you do, is practice those coding blocks you already know. Include small variations each time you do it. Here are a few examples:
HTML: Code the body of a webpage. Then insert a picture. Play with the picture alignment to see the effect each variable has on the position of the picture. Try to do it all from memory.
The goal of this process is to get you practicing. You need to code. And you need to do it regularly. It’s the only way to excel.
Set aside at least an hour each day to drill. Practice what you know until you can write the core elements correctly each time. You should see how these elements affect variables and understand their variations before you move on.
No, you’re not going to teach anyone else coding, at least not yet. You’re going to get help from someone else. This is the most beneficial step in your learning process.
At this point, you would know a few words if you were learning a Latin-based language. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t understand most words and would miserably fail a test on sentence structure. And your ability to read the language aloud would be nonexistent.
The simplest way to overcome these hurdles is to find a study buddy or a mentor. All coding boot camps require you to learn with a buddy. They know it increases the rate at which you learn tenfold.
They also provide a teacher/mentor to guide your education when you run across something outside your purview. It’s impossible to learn a language without facing this issue. Even entrenched languages, like C++, are constantly updated to keep up with new technology.
The only way to navigate this terrain is to track down help.
You don’t have to become an expert on these sites, but at least have a working knowledge of how to get around. When you’re ready for the big leap to creating your own programs, head to the next section.
No, you won’t be creating games for PlayStation or Apple. At least not yet. You must start with baby steps.
Now that you’ve created an infrastructure, it’s time for real-world application. You have three different options here:
- Practice katas
- Solve simple problems
- Create simple apps/games/webpages
Katas are forms used in martial arts. Novices practice the forms over and over again their motions become fluid and unconscious. Programmers practice coding katas to produce similar results.
Similarly, you can ask your mentor to create simple problems for you to solve. Test your coding prowess with real-world issues.
Lastly, you’ll find the programming practice projects. These are things like apps, games, web pages, databases, etc. Each language is commonly used for at least one specific purpose. Begin there.
You want to build simple (think Tetris rather than World of Warcraft) program. It’ll introduce you to new areas of your language. It’ll also show you how software interacts with hardware.
This project should take you anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. No longer. Remember, this is for practice. Don’t be all that concerned with the result.
After you finish, ask your mentor to recommend a new topic for your next project. Continue with pet projects until your mentor thinks you have a well-rounded education in programming. Then it’s time to sign up for your first interview and land your first coding job.
How to Practice Coding – Learn More
When you’re finished reading our article on “how to practice coding,” get out your daily schedule. Now set aside a block of time each day to study. You need at least an hour.
Get started now. Begin by building flashcards. Then read this article to help you avoid beginner programmer mistakes. Go on, do it while it’s still fresh in your mind.
So long and good luck!