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How to Learn Programming: Approaches, Bootcamps and Courses
With every chore being digitized and becoming smart with AI technology, learning to code has become the need of an era. There are some subtle differences between coding and programming, but either way, it is an important skill to have.
Getting an Uber, shopping online, streaming movies — all of these involve coding and programming. Here, we discuss how to learn the programming language of your choice and the correct way to begin your programming journey.
How to Learn to Code
Before we begin, you have to note that learning programming demands patience and motivation — and above all never giving up despite the challenges on the way. With that out of the way, let’s start learning about the fundamentals of programming.
Learn Programming Fundamentals
The first step is to choose a programming language to learn. Python is a good choice for beginners as it is English-like and easy to learn. You can check out some of the best Python tutorials to get started.
For data science, AI & ML, Python & R are the languages to study. There are primarily two ways to learn programming languages. But in both cases, you will have to spend a lot of time coding — there’s no way to avoid that.
1. Through Interactive Websites
Websites like Codecademy and Freecodecamp are good choices for interactive coding sessions. These were built with the idea that many beginners are stuck at the beginning — when they start to learn to code while setting up the development environment. These websites offer online text editors and compilers to begin coding instantly.
2. Through Video Tutorials
If you like detailed instructions with step-by-step guidance, then we recommend enrolling in any online programming tutorial. Some tutorials and courses also offer certifications that could help when you apply for a job. We recommend Pluralsight and Lynda for beginner tutorials. Of course, you may also want to check out the top-rated tutorials on Hackr.io.
Focus on Learning Programming Basics
Learn the basics thoroughly and get your hands dirty with the code by making your own problems and solving them. The following topics are important regardless of language:
- Data Types
- Array or Lists
- If statements
- Conditional loops
- Classes and objects
- Exception handling
- Trees and maps
Build Your First Project
Building a personal project is the best way to understand what you have learned. This gives you a practical learning experience and gets your hands into the debugging process. Add your projects to your profile or your GitHub account, as this helps when you look for a job in development.
So how do you choose a programming project?
How Should I Choose a Project?
This is where most people get stuck at the deciding stage, but the solution is fairly simple.
1. Choose What Interests You
Whether it comes to studying or coding you must do what interests you the most. You must enjoy the project area you choose so that you are passionate about it and it keeps you engaged until it is built.
If you choose something that is not of your interest you may end up giving up your project in the middle as you might eventually lack interest in it. For that reason, you should pick a project that is related to something you have a passion for.
For example, if you like playing games, then you might just want to develop a simple video game. If you are an amateur photographer or artist, you might want to build a portfolio website that showcases all of your artistic work.
2. Start With Something Simple
Being confident about your capabilities is good, but being overconfident is not. Start with simple and easy projects to explore the language before you dive into building complex projects.
For example, if you choose to build a video game do not attempt a complex one. Instead, begin with something like tic-tac-toe.
3. Build Something Useful for Yourself and a Community
Build something that is useful for you and interests a community at the same time. This gives you an opportunity to have several downloads or viewers and this way you can demonstrate your skill, and have an edge over other candidates.
For example, you could build a finance application that makes it easier to monitor and handle investments, a script that automatically tells us when an item is back in stock, a web app that helps you increase productivity, and much more.
Some Starter Ideas
If you’re still having trouble, we’ll give you a few ideas for inspiration. You could begin with a simple website that offers a to-do list. If you want to make a game app, then games like Tetris and sudoku are good places to start.
Hackr gives you many project ideas for several languages ranging from the beginner level to the advanced level, such as:
It is inevitable that you will get stuck at some point when programming. This could be anything from getting errors, your program crashing without any message, or even your code executing fine but not generating the output you desire. You will get frustrated but don’t give up!
Stay motivated, and use these tips to continue working on your project.
1. Learn to Google the Error Correctly
This is a crucial step that you must master. Searching and surfing the error of your code would help you correct your code within a few minutes. One good tip is to put the error generated by your compiler in double-quotes (“ ”) before searching on Google. This way Google would specifically target the error as the same sentence.
2. Popular Websites to Guide You
Websites like Stack-Overflow and Reddit top the charts here to guide developers around the world with their code. You should also answer questions that others have posted and this helps you learn too.
3. Events and Meetups
This step might be difficult to start with as it requires you to leave your comfort zone but it makes a tremendous difference. Start by looking for people who have similar interests and try to learn from and work with them. You could try searching for “coding events” in your area or visiting a meetup site.
Get a Job or an Internship
Finally, many learn programming languages to start a career. When you are confident enough or believe that you know some basic programming, you may want to step into the development industry by starting with an internship. Working as an intern gives you an opportunity to learn and enhance your skills, and sometimes even get paid.
You can find an internship opportunity through LinkedIn, career fairs, and networking.
Computer Science Degrees or Bootcamps: Which is Best to Learn to Program?
Bootcamps are a common thought for those starting their coding journey. The truth is that it entirely depends on the person and their learning capability.
If you are a high school student who is yet to enroll in college, then a degree in computer science might be better. If you’re much older, then you might want to go for a bootcamp in a programming language of your choice.
Online courses are free and are available for all programming languages. Beginners may want an easier language, so you might want to look at something like the best Python courses online.
It’s best that you begin with an online course to get a flavor of coding first before spending on a bootcamp, as they are often expensive. If you’re really interested in bootcamps, here’s our list of the best coding bootcamps in 2023.
Hopefully, you now have the knowledge you need to begin learning and coding your first project. We at Hackr.io have shortlisted the best courses for almost all the programming languages that you might want to check out.
Do you have other tips that you would like to share with others in the programming community? Let us know below.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Do I Start Learning Programming?
By simply trying to code a simple project. You can view documentation, written educational resources, YouTube videos — anything that helps you actually code. It’s as simple as that. You can google beginner coding projects in the language of your choice or check the ones listed above.
2. Can I Learn Programming by Myself?
Absolutely, and many have done just that. All you need is a willingness to learn, patience and perseverance, and the ability to do research online.
3. What Age Should You Start Coding?
As young as possible, because it’s not very difficult to get started. Coding has so much potential both in terms of offering career opportunities and working your brain. Most children have some familiarity with computers anyway, so perhaps the age of 8 or so would be ideal.
But remember, there are many well past 50 who are just learning to code — age is no barrier!
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