Posted on Nov 28th, 2019 by Natalie
Christmas is just around the corner and so we decided to put a technical spin on the traditional 12 day countdown with 12 useful tips for anyone considering or beginning the journey to a career in coding.
Over the next 12 days we'll be sharing tips from all of the Tech Returners team bringing together our experience of supporting individuals into careers in technology since 2017.
You have to believe you’re going to be something to achieve it, so if you’ve taken the leap and decided to go for a career in coding then from that moment on you have to believe that ‘you are a developer’ learning a new skill and particularly at a level enough to ensure you’ll be career-ready at the end of it will take commitment, hard work, will power and most importantly confidence in your own ability to achieve your goals.
Programming Fundamentals must always come first, don’t ever be tempted to skip the basics - even if you think you know them, you’ll need to understand them and understand them well as you move into more advanced topics and rushing ahead is the fastest way to come unstuck. Programming fundamentals are the most important step of your learning and the foundations upon which you’ll build everything else, so spend sufficient time on them, be sure you understand them fully and revisit them often.
It’s a fact that once your coding career is underway and you’re within a team, you’ll receive feedback on your code regularly, so it stands to reason that it’s something you should embrace right at the beginning of your journey, Having a fresh pair of eyes to see things differently (and yes sometimes better!) which in turn helps you improve your code is a critical tool in your path towards a career in coding.
Working on a side project has multiple benefits, of course, it will help you fine-tune your coding skills but beyond that, by choosing a project you’re passionate about you’re much more likely to stick with it and it can, and will play an important part in your job search. Employers are often (and rightly) impressed with applicants who have completed side projects which showcase their skills, as such it’s a great way to set yourself apart from the competition.
From online resources to physical communities, the coding community is a place to find technical support, develop a peer network and really find your place as a developer. From meet-ups which allow you to code with others and learn new skills, to online groups and communities which support your learning and provide practical tasks and exercises to help your development, the coding community is like no other and will be of huge benefit throughout your coding career.
You don’t know everything and that’s fine! Asking for help is a really important part of accessing any new career and it’s no different for a career in code. Whatever path your learning is following if you don’t understand something, looking for clarification or asking for help is a skill you need to develop early on in your career. Understanding why something works the way does is critical to the way a coder thinks and as technology is always evolving the reality is you’ll never stop asking questions or learning in a coding career, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from the start.
Working with a developer more experienced than yourself is a great way to boost your coding skills. Pair Programming is split into two roles, a little like learning to drive, you’ll be behind the wheel but the more experienced programmer will be beside you (with the second brake pedal) you’re in control but it’s up to them to ensure the code gets written the right way, you’re taking part in active learning and getting ‘ on the go’ input, it’s a fantastic way to learn to code and one I’d fully recommend to anyone embarking on a coding career.
Blogging is a simple and effective way of sharing your technical expertise and will help to develop your personal brand as a ‘developer’ You’re probably already reading blogs from people in the coding community and there’s no reason why you can’t contribute your own thoughts too. Getting things down in blog form has multiple benefits it can help cement your own understanding of topics, provide insight for others in the community and is a great way of communicating to prospective employers your knowledge and commitment to a career in coding.
Once you’re in the job market, you’ll likely come across coding exercises that form part of your interview process - but the good news is it’s easy to get prepared for this. There are numerous resources like CodeWars, CoderByte or Kaggle which allow you to complete challenges which may be a little outside your comfort zone. Doing this allows you to hone technical skills but also to be confident at interview stage knowing you’ve completed similar challenges in the past. Dev teams are looking for problem solvers so focusing on these skills is a must.
It’s all about mindset. Accessing a career in code is hard work, you have to learn an entirely new language for a start! You will have moments where your confidence dips, you will have moments of utter frustration and the dreaded error message will appear on your screen (more than once!) but at the same time you will be continuously learning and progressing and you’ll overcome the challenges you face to keep moving towards your end goal and it is that upon which you must always remain focused.
Once it’s time to hit the job market you need to ensure some essential tools are in place like an updated CV and LinkedIn profile, you may also wish to use other social profiles to position yourself as a developer and to share blogs or personal projects. You’ll no doubt have taken advantage of resources like GitHub during your learning so now is a great time to ensure this is up to date and readily demonstrates your coding abilities to any prospective employer, and finally it’s worth taking time to understand what roles are really out there, the types of companies which are hiring and where you might see yourself fit in your new role as a developer.
We’re fortunate to have an amazing community of tech professionals here at Tech Returners from our in-house team, to graduates of our programmes and experts in the wider tech community and we’re passionate about empowering tech careers. Whether our programmes are the right fit for you or not we’re perfectly positioned to give advice about accessing careers in tech so why not get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org