15 Tips from Pro Developers for Programming Beginners

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This guest contribution was written by Alex Yelenevych, CMO & Co-founder at CodeGym.

The global technology industry keeps growing at an incredible pace, seemingly unstoppable and immune to road bumps other economic sectors are suffering from. Even the mighty COVID-19 crisis didn’t manage to stop the soaring tech industry as it managed to grow in 2020 and is now on a path to reach $5 trillion by the end of 2021, which would indicate a 4.2% per year growth trend.

Alex Yelenevych, CMO & Co-founder at CodeGymAlex Yelenevych, CMO & Co-founder at CodeGymAlex Yelenevych, CMO & Co-founder at CodeGym
Alex Yelenevych (Image: CodeGym)

As the tech market keeps expanding, its appetite for talent is growing as well. Tech businesses worldwide are hungry for qualified software engineers, and this increasing demand stimulates more and more people to learn to program and join the profession. It is estimated that today there are around 24 million software developers around the world, and this number will grow to 28.7 million by 2024.

Demand for software developers is accelerating

People all around the world are choosing software development as their profession. In terms of growth in the number of software developers, the Asia Pacific region shows the strongest development, which is mainly attributed to countries like China and India. China is the top nation for annual developer population growth, while India’s pool of programmers is expected to overtake the United States by 2023.

But even this will not be enough, as the number of jobs in the tech industry is growing faster than the developer population. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that the number of jobs in computer and information technology occupations in the U.S. would grow 11 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Also interesting: Here Are 8-Bits of Advice for New Programmers [Video]

When rising demand outstrips the growth of the developer population, it makes a great employee market. So it’s no wonder so many people today are already learning how to code or just considering this career path for the future. But as much as can be done to make this knowledge easy and accessible, software development is a demanding discipline. It is typical for beginners to hit multiple road bumps on the way to becoming professional software developers.

15 programming tips that you might benefit from

Recently I conducted a survey of well-known software development experts and industry influencers, asking them to share the most valuable advice and guidance they can give to programming beginners. I compiled this list of the most essential and valuable recommendations for coding beginners based on what they have told me.

1. Practice is the key

It should come as no surprise that number one advice from most of the experts I surveyed was to practice as much as possible. All the best and proven online programming courses are practice-focused, as this is the way to teach people how to code with utmost effectiveness.

Quote Practice writing code as much as possible Erik HellmanQuote Practice writing code as much as possible Erik HellmanQuote Practice writing code as much as possible Erik Hellman
Image: Mohammad Rahmani / Unsplash

“Practice writing code as much as possible. Do all codelabs and tutorials you can find,” recommends Erik Hellman, mobile programming expert and the author of ‘Android Programming: Pushing the Limits.’

Javin Paul, a renowned Java blogger, has pretty much the same recommendation to give: “Code daily, read blogs and books, and do projects.”

2. Don’t get trapped in theory-learning.

Learning theory is the second crucially important component of learning how to code after practicing. And even though the theory is important, beginners often make the mistake of devoting too much time and effort to reading tutorials without enough practice.

“Try to avoid the tutorial trap." - Karolina Sowinska“Try to avoid the tutorial trap." - Karolina Sowinska“Try to avoid the tutorial trap." - Karolina Sowinska
Image: Roman Synkevych / Unsplash

“Try to avoid the tutorial trap. Doing structured courses and tutorials is obviously very useful at the beginning, but eventually, you must start building the real thing,” recommends Karolina Sowinska, an experienced software developer, and tech industry influencer.

3. Join a community of developers

Social communication is also an important factor in learning how to code. This is why it is highly recommended to find yourself a community of developers that you can join to ask questions, discuss programming-related topics and support each other. These communities can be both offline, which is always better for establishing personal relationships and contact with others, and online. Codegym, for instance, has a Java developers community, where our users can discuss everything about Java software development.

"Trends come and go, so the responsibility of every developer is to follow current trends and those on the horizon. They need to find an environment or group where they can be discussed,” - Ken Fogel"Trends come and go, so the responsibility of every developer is to follow current trends and those on the horizon. They need to find an environment or group where they can be discussed,” - Ken Fogel"Trends come and go, so the responsibility of every developer is to follow current trends and those on the horizon. They need to find an environment or group where they can be discussed,” - Ken Fogel
Image: Le Wagon / Unsplash

“Programmers love to debate methodologies and trends. Is OOP dead? Are scripting languages the future? Is functional programming just cycling back to structured programming? A beginner should immerse themselves in the community associated with the language or environment they are working in. They should join user groups. A beginner needs to know the pulse of the industry. This year it’s functional programming and, much to my regret, untyped languages. Trends come and go, so the responsibility of every developer is to follow current trends and those on the horizon. They need to find an environment or group where they can be discussed,” explains Ken Fogel, Java expert and Computer Science Technology Professor at Dawson College, Canada.

“Find a community of developers where you feel comfortable asking questions. Don’t worry if you feel your question might be too simple. You’ll get past that quite soon,” adds Erik Hellman.

4. Learn to search for and find the solutions

Being able to search and find solutions to your programming problems and ways to solve coding challenges is almost half the success when it comes to software development. Even if you are lacking technical knowledge or skills, searching can be that meta-skill that will get you through the difficulties of professional programming. 

"Many like to say that programmers are just professional googlers. I would take that as a compliment." - Ken Fogel "Many like to say that programmers are just professional googlers. I would take that as a compliment." - Ken Fogel "Many like to say that programmers are just professional googlers. I would take that as a compliment." - Ken Fogel
Image: Solen Feyissa / Unsplash

“Many like to say that programmers are just professional googlers. I would take that as a compliment. How you use what you learn is what defines you as a professional rather than a duffer,” said Ken Fogel.

Related story: Which Programming Language Should You Learn First? [Flowchart]

Erik Hellman also thinks searching is the key: “Learn how to search for solutions. Even if you know the answer to something, google it and see what else comes up to compare.”

5. Take the time to stop and celebrate a new milestone

Even though to become a professional programmer, you will most likely have to push yourself pretty hard. You should also know when to let it go, relax and celebrate a new milestone in this journey, even if it isn’t a big one.

"Often we are so afraid that we want to be a hundred percent ready, and that’s a really poor attitude to have in our field." - Dylan Israel"Often we are so afraid that we want to be a hundred percent ready, and that’s a really poor attitude to have in our field." - Dylan Israel"Often we are so afraid that we want to be a hundred percent ready, and that’s a really poor attitude to have in our field." - Dylan Israel
Image: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

At least, this is what Dylan Israel, a senior frontend engineer, coding mentor, and YouTube blogger, recommends to programming beginners. “The first piece of advice I would have is: celebrate your mini-milestones. When you learn something new, appreciate that you spent the time to learn something new; when you build something, appreciate that you built something and challenge yourself. Often we are so afraid that we want to be a hundred percent ready, and that’s a really poor attitude to have in our field because you are never going to know everything. You are never going to be a hundred percent ready. So be afraid and do it anyhow,” he told me.

6. Start applying for jobs and doing interviews early

When it comes to applying for actual programming jobs and having job interviews, it makes sense to start doing that as early as possible, even if you don’t feel ready for it yet. The fact is, jobs for software developers always have a lot of requirements, and feeling a bit under-qualified when you are reading them is quite normal for beginners. But that shouldn’t stop you from actively trying to get them.

"Get out of your comfort zone, be afraid and do it anyhow." - Dylan Israel - Programming Coding Dev Tips"Get out of your comfort zone, be afraid and do it anyhow." - Dylan Israel - Programming Coding Dev Tips"Get out of your comfort zone, be afraid and do it anyhow." - Dylan Israel - Programming Coding Dev Tips
Image: Fernando Hernandez / Unsplash

“When you’re applying for a job, and you only meet about 50 percent of requirements, apply, see it start interviewing way earlier, get out of your comfort zone, be afraid and do it anyhow. This is something I want you to remember because that is the thing that will propel you faster. That’s the thing that will make you grow. More growth is challenging. It’s difficult, it’s stressful, but like anything else, when you grow, you get better, and you’ll be a better programmer in the long term,” said Dylan Israel.

7. Follow your passion more

Another good piece of advice when it comes to applying for jobs in software development is to follow your interests and intuition instead of making choices…

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