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5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started As A Developer

catalinmpit profile image Catalin Pit Originally published at ・4 min read

In this article, I want to talk about five things I wish someone told me before becoming a developer. Whether you are an experienced developer or just starting, I believe the article will benefit you.

The article aims to clarify topics such as:

  • How to learn to code
  • Building great projects
  • Starting and staying up-to-date
  • Running after buzzwords

How to learn to code

The first section is about learning how to code. We all know that coding can be challenging at times. We might struggle to decide what to learn, how to learn, and how much time to spend on learning. Thus, this section aims to clarify the question of how to learn to code and how to get better.

Many people expect some magic secret to getting better at programming. However, there is no secret. To get better at programming, you have to code. A lot. Code. Get stuck. Learn to get unstuck. Repeat.

Coding is a practical task, and you only get better at it by practicing. There is no substitute for hard, smart, practical work. You can only get better by putting your fingers to work.

Personal projects

In the first section, we have seen that active learning (practical work) is crucial when learning to code. Thus, that brings us to the next question - "what to build?". You are not going to get ideas for projects because there are many resources on the internet about that. However, it is going to help you build great projects.

Projects are crucial, and the more projects you build, the better you get at programming. Memorizing concepts is one thing; building projects is another thing. However, they go hand-in-hand. Before you jump into programming, you need to understand basic concepts and the fundamentals. Once you understand them, start building projects.

Therefore, let us see how can we build great projects:

  • Build a project that does something useful.
  • Write tests.
  • Write readable code (not clever/smart code).
  • Have instructions on how to install/run your project.
  • Have a live preview link.

However, this is not an exhaustive list, and it represents my views. You are free to add more or remove some stuff from the list.

How to start and stay up-to-date

I want to start by saying that you can never know everything and be up-to-date with everything. I would suggest picking a language such as JavaScript or Python because they are reasonably easy to start with, and there are lots of tutorials online.

But it very much depends on what you want to do. Find your area (e.g., web development, mobile development), and find the best technologies for that area. For web development, I would recommend JavaScript.

In my case, to stay-up-to-date, I do the following:

  • I use a news aggregator.
  • I subscribe to various newsletters.
  • I read blogs from Freecodecamp, Dev To, and Hashnode.
  • I follow accounts such as Freecodecamp, Hashnode, and Dev To.

If you want a more in-depth article, I recommend reading the article on how to stay up-to-date as a developer.

Do not run after buzzwords

In the technology sector, new tools are released often. As a result, it is easy to run after buzzwords and try new things all the time. If you always run after buzzwords, you cannot get good enough at anything. Pick an area that interests you and get better in that area.

Be aware. That is not to say you should not try new tools. You should learn new things and stay up-to-date. The idea is not to run after new technologies all the time.

Life is more than work

Always remember that life is more than work. In tech, it seems that you have to code and learn non-stop to stay relevant. But that is not the case. Relaxing and enjoying life too is crucial. This is coming from someone that got burned out twice because of too much work.

Success is usually a combination of:

  • Hard work
  • Time off
  • Exercising
  • Healthy eating
  • Good sleep
  • Having fun

Moreover, success means different things to people. There is no one definition because success is subjective and objective. My success might not be your success and vice-versa!


These are the things I wish I knew when I started as a developer.

I hope you learned something new by reading the article. Or at least, I hope you refreshed your mind on things you already knew.

If you enjoyed the article, consider sharing it so more people can benefit from it! Also, feel free to @ me on Twitter with your opinions.

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Discussion (5)

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_martinwheeler_ profile image
Martin Wheeler

Great post Catalin! The buzz words definitely hits home for me. I feel like every day I find out about a new tool and how it will make my life so much easier and my code so much more readable/maintainable/magical. I've been trying out Svelte recently and, aside from loving it, I can;t help but think about just how much alike many of these tools seem to be.

kelbri10 profile image
Kelsey Hughes

As a beginner having the constant reminder that to get better is to practice is both encouraging and frustrating πŸ˜‚

couchcamote profile image

I thought the answer is learn the goddam Data Structure and Algorithm first, but nice article though.

Another I might add. Code something that you can personally use, like a simple data organizer, an advance calculator etc.

shaijut profile image
Shaiju T

Nice πŸ˜„, Same here, I Wish I Knew this before. But no issues I know it now more nicely, Thanks for sharing. This is Wise advise for Junior and Beginner developers.

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Another great post I think that getting stuck in tutorial hell is something that really slows down a developers progress.