Coding for beginners: a manual to start in programming languages

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By Cleyra Uzcátegui

If you are a person looking to develop a career in Software Development this post is for you. Have you ever felt confused in YouTube Tutorials with jargon and terms? Have you ever wondered where to start coding?

I am a librarian with a background in Social Media who decided to pivot her career. Not easy at all. At the beginning —last year, I had so many questions about where to start, what course to do, and how to find inspiration and motivation to continue in my journey to coding.

That’s why I decided to write this post, to share my experience starting in the world of software development and the path that led me to make the decision to be a full time code student.

1. Listen to experiences.

I had an idea about coding because my boyfriend is a software developer but I needed to meet more people, maybe women, maybe people with my same background to find inspiration and get some answers.

So I searched in Google and I found an amazing podcast: “Librarian to Web Developed”. In this episode of the Learn to Code With Me podcast they talk with Lisa Smith. She is a former librarian who taught herself how to code.

Lisa pivots from catalog librarian to web developer because she was interested in emerging technologies in the late nineties. Her willingness to continue learning brought her to where she is today: a frontend web developer for New Media Campaigns and also teaches for Girl Develop It.

I highly recommend listen this podcast because you can find so many stories of people with different backgrounds who becomes software developers and how were their journeys.

2. Games are good to learn.

When I started learning programming languages I chose some very basic online tutorials in Codecademy and a whole lot of experimentation in challenge sites like Codewars but definitely one of my favorite ways to practice coding are games.

Games can be a really incredible way to practice the coding skills you’re learning. It makes practice fun. I’ve tried out some of the games suggested in this post: 15 Free Games to Improve and Level Up Your Coding Skills.

3. Developer best friend: Google.

When you’re learning to code many questions come up —and you don’t always have a developer nearby to answer them. In this case Google becomes your best friend!

And not just Google also Stack Overflow. At least in my short experience I’ve got many solutions to doubts in this page, even more than Google.

In my modus operandi I go to Google and type a question followed by the word “Stack overflow” and that gets me links that are possibly related to the topic of interest.

4. Start with an easy programming language.

When it comes to breaking into a career as a developer or adding a new coding language to your skillset, there are some languages easier than others.

Please, don’t make my mistake to start learning Java at the begging. In my opinion Java is a difficult language for beginners —Java gave me many headaches and tears.

Some options for those looking to learn to program are: HTML, Python, Ruby, PHP or Javascript.

5. Find an enthusiastic community to join.

The best decision I have made in my journey to coding has been to leave my job and become part of CodeClan. This is a digital skills academy in Scotland and enthusiastic community that transforms your career by learning to code in a 16-week Professional Software Development full time course.

Of course, to leave my job was not an easy decision but I wanted to be 100% focused on my learning. Also if you do not have the possibility to do that you can be part of communities passionate about teaching and learning digital skills.

In Scotland and the U.K there are huge organisations and strong communities around coding: Scotland Woman in Technology, Ladies of Code, Code for future, Code Craft, Code bar, Code First Girls, Code your Future, Coder Dojo Scotland, Glasgow Makers, Women Who Code and many many more.

6. Get familiar with basic concepts of programming.

Now it’s time to start with some basic concepts that you’re likely to come across —and what they mean.

If you come from a Humanities or Social Science background like me I higly recommend you read this post: Coding for journalist: 10 programming concepts it helps to understand.

In this writing indispensable topics and concepts are explained such as: Variables, Strings, Integers, Classes, IDs, selectors, functions, methods, parameters, libraries, arrays, loops and objects.

Have I missed some important point? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to cover it in my next post. Happy coding!

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