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Lessons I have learnt on my journey to becoming a software developer

Modupe Falodun's photo
Modupe Falodun
·Aug 26, 2021·

5 min read

vlad-bagacian-d1eaoAabeXs-unsplash.jpg Starting out learning programming may seem daunting. In my first few months of learning how to code, I felt quite lost. However, I am gradually getting the hang of it and feeling more confident in my skills as a developer. I have learnt a lot of lessons along the way I would like to share with you. I hope this post will help you feel better when you start to feel lost. So let us dive right in.

It is okay to not understand all the big words like syntax, functions and methods etc.

You know what I mean. When I first started to code, I watched a lot of tutorials, read articles, and most times I got lost trying to keep up with all the big words. I mean they do sound so basic now and I would probably use them while explaining concepts. However, when I first started out, those words were my major source of headaches. So, it is okay as a newbie to be a little confused. Your main goal should be to understand the basics of whatever language you choose to start with. Google is your friend, just look for a simple definition and take it from there.

You are not a fraud if you use stack overflow.

I know that all programmers have been at that point where we copy some lines of code on stack overflow and paste in our VS code. While I believe being able to query stack overflow is a skill on its own it might be easy to sink into self-doubt after doing that. The key is to ensure you make an effort to understand how/why those lines of code work as well as the thought process involved with that solution. Note that I said “make an effort” This is because there are some things you might not understand immediately, which is fine, no pressure.

Debugging is part of the process, wear it as a badge of honour.

Debugging can be frustrating, no need to sugarcoat it. I mean, how else can you explain writing two lines of code and having to figure out why you have a syntax error on your console instead of the “Hello World” you were expecting? Pssst! Syntax error! What does that even mean? As frustrating as debugging can be, there is a lot to learn from it and I can almost promise you that it does get better. Soon enough some funny errors would not even move you, my go-to is “console.log()” whenever I get any error and it has been good so far. One major thing I have learnt is several developers ( at least the ones I know) have had to deal with bugs and that goes to show that when it comes to programming, no one knows everything. There is always something new to learn.

Ask questions.

As many as you have and keep asking till you understand. Don’t be afraid or shy to ask questions about concepts you are yet to understand. Getting an explanation from an expert might save you hours of debugging.

Find a way to stay refreshed and motivated.

Watching youtube videos of other developers who share their coding journey has really helped on those nights that I cannot seem to understand the tune my codes are dancing to. I have a few youtube channels I follow and I just listen to a few of their videos and it works to motivate me. Watching a really awesome movie or reading a great book also helps to find what works for you.

Having a mentor certainly does help.

I have been fortunate enough to have someone I can hit up when I don’t understand certain concepts and it has really helped in my journey. In your case it might not be someone you have a personal relationship with, however, just having someone to look up to helps a lot.

Build Projects.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is watching a bunch of tutorials and believing it is as simple as it looks. Do not fall for that trap! Get a lot of practice building projects. Basic things like a todo app can go a really long way. It really goes a long way.

Understand the problem before jumping to the solution.

It can be quite tempting to just jump into writing lines of codes to solve a problem. However, like my mentor always says, “Anyone can write codes, what differentiates you from someone who just puts a bunch of codes together is your problem-solving ability”. When given a problem, think about the problem, break it down into small achievable chunks and figure out the best way to resolve each chunk. It helps improve your problem-solving skills and increases your confidence as a developer.

Everyone’s journey is different so don’t compare yourself to others.

Understand that because someone learnt a particular way does not mean that is the best way for you. Make peace with it and be happy. You can draw inspiration from others but don’t compare. That is the fastest route to self-doubt in my opinion.

Finally, documenting your journey or teaching others.

I must admit I am just starting this, which is why I decided to start this blog in the first place. I hope that by writing about my journey and documenting the things I have learnt, I would build my confidence as a developer and also consolidate my knowledge. Hopefully, I will be back in a few months to give an update on how that is going.

Remember, keep learning, squash those bugs and stay awesome.