5 Things You Need To Know Before Learning Code

5 Things You Need To Know Before Learning Code

There were some things I wish I knew before I started learning code. So I'm here to share with you what I learned firsthand so you can prepare yourselves for the journey of learning code. Let's get to it.

1: I wish I knew how hard it would be

Now why do I say this? That's because when you understand how hard it's going to be, you won't get discouraged when you can't understand something, like HTML or CSS. It took me 3 months to get a grasp on CSS. When it came to JavaScript I spent a year and a half before I understood it. They were all a pain in the butt to learn, let me tell you.

I remember so many times that I'd get discouraged, comparing myself to other developers and asking myself "Why am I not getting good at this?", "What am I doing wrong?", "What else do I need to work on?". And the reason why I got so discouraged and even wanted to give up sometimes was because I failed to understand that this is supposed to be difficult. And that's okay.

It's supposed to be difficult and that's the first thing I wish I understood. I even reached the point where I questioned if coding was really meant for me. But thankfully it is. So expect to have a hard time. As soon as you understand and accept this the easier your learning experience will be.

2: I wish I knew what path to take

This one actually came from my good friend Jesse. He said he wished he knew what path to take before learning code. He took a boot camp which explained things like what the languages are and where to start. And it really helped him move forward.

I agree with this 100% because when I started learning how to code I didn't know which route I wanted to follow. I asked myself where should I even begin? PHP? HTML? CSS? Then where do I go after that? Should I do Vanilla JavaScript or React.js? So you can see why having a guided route you can follow is essential. But in order to find the right route you need to know where your end destination will be.

Where do you see yourself after your "learning to code" journey? Do you want to be a front-end or back-end developer? iOS developer? This part depends solely on what you want to [do. Once you have a clear path you want to follow you will have a goal that will motivate you to push even harder in order to reach it.

3: I wish that I challenged myself more

When people become good at something, they get comfortable. While it's good to be confident at what you can do now, you can always improve by challenging yourself to do other things. And this applies to being a developer as well. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

We’re human. What if by challenging myself, I prove myself even further that this career path is not meant for me? That could be true. But more often than not, it isn’t. It's through challenging yourself, learning and knowing how much you don't know, that will make you an even better engineer.

And this is the reason why people are even good at coding in the first place. They fail. They fail a lot. They fail on a daily basis. If not even by the hour. The more you fail, the more you learn from your mistakes. The more mistakes you make, guess what? The more experienced you become.

I wish I had done this sooner. But, I was too afraid to take on harder challenges. So don't be afraid to challenge yourself. If you fail, that's perfectly fine. We as humans are prone to failure, it's in our nature. But you know what else is in our nature? The drive to do better after learning from our mistakes.

4: Learning how to solve a problem on my own before asking for help

This is something I wish I knew, which would've helped me a lot when I was learning code. Before asking for help, I wish I built a habit in trying to solve the problem on my own first. Because as developers, when we first start out, we have no idea where to go or even where to start learning code. But, as we continue to improve and get better, the best way to become a problem solver is try to solve it yourself first before asking for help.

If not, I will not only slow my growth but also shorten my potential ceiling as a developer. Don't get me wrong, asking for help is good. Because there will always be something you can't do on your own, no matter how hard you try.

The important thing here is how much you're willing to push yourself to solve problems on your own. Not only will this improve your problem skills, it will also help you not be reliant on others, and companies love independent workers. Because as harsh as it sounds, there won't always be someone to help you. But you know who's always there for you? Google! Google almost always has the answer, provided you know what you're searching for.

This is actually one of the things they look at in interviews. They check to see if you know how to search for a solution online. If you’re able to show this on your own, they will see you as an independent person and increase your chances of being hired. And the better you are at searching for solutions online, the better you'll be at solving problems and the more productive you'll be in the company.

So don't be afraid to tackle problems on your own, and don't be afraid of failing. Failure is something we all experience, and it's through failure we see how we can improve. Failure is not the opposite of success; it's part of success.

5: You don't need a Degree to be a web developer

I learned code at the age of 27, so I'm more aged compared to the other developers out there. Developers who are now professionally coding because they have a Computer Science degree or they went to boot camp. And for someone like me who was self-taught I doubted my ability to make it in the web development industry.

I often thought to myself if I should have gone to boot camp or if I made a mistake by not going to school. But what I learned after being in the industry for two and a half years now is that you don't need to have gone to boot camp or have a degree to become a web developer. Should you get a degree if you can? Definitely yes. Trust me, I wish I did. It would make life easier.

Going to boot camp or having a degree could've helped me as a developer and I didn't do either. But one thing that I do wish is, back then, I wish someone encouraged me that I didn't need to go back to school, be smart or be good at math to be an engineer.

As long as you have the will and the drive, you can do it.

I know someone who got his first job in the industry as a coder. He was eventually fired because he sucked at coding. But that didn't stop him. Couple months later he got another job as a coder. Then a year and a half later he got another job which paid over $150,000 a year. Why? Because he was willing to put in the work and work harder than everyone else even if he was tired and didn't want to.

And because of his effort to really push himself to become a better developer, now makes double my salary, which is kinda crazy. He proves that anyone can do it, whether you went to school or not, whether you're smart or not. You can do it. It all begins with you. Don't let failure or discouragement stop you from reaching your dream of becoming a web developer.

So those are the five things I wish I knew before I started to learn code. Hopefully I was able to help you get ready and started on your journey to becoming a successful web developer.

Chris Sean
Developer Relations Engineer @New Relic