Wednesday, September 7, 2016

3 Important Programming Tips (that every student should embrace)

1. Immerse yourself in the coding universe

Commit to spending time in and around others that do the kind of tech stack you are learning, and do it right away. For example, the quickest way to learn a foreign language is to live in that country and expose oneself to people that speak the language. There are nuances and cultural pieces of information to be gleaned from this approach and cannot be reflected by formal instruction alone. Go to user groups, participate in things you know absolutely nothing about but are curious and driven enough to figure out. One thing we all have in common is our passion for tech, so connect with those that can share insight. This requires a commitment outside of your school or job hours, but is well worth the effort over time.

2. Ask why before you ask how

If you have come across a particularly confusing piece of code to learn, ask for clarification as to WHY you would use this in the first place. Code without context is not helpful to anyone, not every course is written perfectly, and some are better coders than teachers. Understanding the why will help you know when to apply this technique in the future, and allow you to speak intelligently to other programmers about your opinions on the approach. It is he best way to file it away for later in your mind. An added bonus to this question is that it can send you down an alternate path, if you find the answer unsatisfactory or unclear. Often I have discovered some of the coolest plugins, libraries and frameworks this way. Don't be a lemming - think for yourself. Don't just accept that you have to bang away at some code - know WHY you would do it first. If you don't get a good answer from your teacher or the self-paced course you are going through, put on your detective hat and make some discoveries of your own.

3. Never, ever quit

Mastery of a subject varies in length from person to person. What may seem hard for one is easy for the other. What took 2 years for you to learn one can take 6 months for another subject. Programming is not something you are born doing - you learn to do it. So never, ever quit persuing your passion. You will make more mistakes than you ever thought possible before you can stablize to some true successes. There is no time limit on finding your groove as a coder. Regardless of whether or not other people think you can do it - you can. Those eureka moments are worth every moment of the struggle it takes to get there. So when you are trying your hardest and still not getting that program to compile - take a moment, refocus, walk away - and then return to it. Shift your perspective and approach until you find the right way. What makes a great programmer is an subjective question - but one thing is for sure, they are never made overnight. Be hungry for the solution and resolute to finding it. Many of us have no idea what we are doing when we start on something new. Don't worry, you aren't alone. What will make you stand apart though is your drive and tenacity to figure it out.