So, you have 16 years old and you've just decided that you want to be a programmer. You start some online courses, no problems, you are used to technology. You are very fast at learning new things and you start creating your basic projects at Code Pen. You really love coding and decide to study at a computer science university. You are very happy cause you know that you will find a work just after leaving university.
What a dream scenario, you are thinking, but you're 40 and already have another job. If you were younger...
But wait, no one said you can't become a programmer because you're 40 (or 50, or 60, maybe not 70). It's never too late. With this article, I will give you a set of advice which will allow you to become a programmer at any age. Ready to go?
You can't learn to code with tutorials, you have to get your hands dirty. And you must also have some headaches, it's normal if you want to be a programmer. Just pick up a cool subject, maybe related to your actual work, and try to build something that helps you in this way. It's so beautiful when two passions are joined. For that Python is really cool, you can build in no time and with little experience some complicated (complicated, not advanced) programs. This first part will also help you know if you really want to change your career / become a part-time programmer or if it just an ephemeral interest like so many others...
Please don't give up at the first difficulty. If you don't understand something, It's normal. Just sleep on it! It seems stupid but it helped me a lot of time. When you feel that you can't code anymore, just stop coding! If you are really determined, you will come back to it at a later stage with a clearer mind. Defining a roadmap can be very useful, do a challenge with yourself and finish the #100daysOfCode. After a while, you will really want to continue. Ask yourself some questions before starting programming, you need to be really sure that determination will follow.
At least you have an advantage over the youngest, you know how to read. You have to replace a computer science background if you have none. Try reading all things related to that, from books to daily news. I really recommend these books (I wrote an article on them), particularly the first one. You can also find online a lot of different written tutorials for free.
This one is really difficult, you are not the young high school student who complains about his five free hours a day. Maybe you have another work and a family. But programming requires some time, a lot of time in reality. I recommend you to free two (or at least one) hours every day for about six months. The important is that these hours are clearly dedicated to programming and only programming. Maybe one hour in the morning and one in the evening.
If you want to be a programmer you have to make sacrifices. Remember the #100DaysOfCode. If you start saying that you can't give all this time to programming, remember that in reality, you are giving this time to yourself. If programming is your dream.
Now that you know the basics, it's time to start doing some stuff. Nobody will ever hire you based on your theoretical knowledge. They will hire you for what you show. Start contributing to open source, then create some basics projects, it's important that they work well. It's also very important to create small applications step by step, this will make you learn a new skill every time and be sure you've understood concepts.
When you think you're ready to find a job, hold on for a second, and create your portfolio or showcase project where you put everything you know. Do it really well... If you don't manage yet, keep learning. If you can, you'll know you're ready. And you will have a baseline that will impress your future employer, this will really help you find a job.
You don't have to be famous, but you will have more and more opportunities to find a job with a good programming entourage. You can create a social media account, or write some articles. Like me. You can also search for developers in your city, maybe in the same situation. It is always an experience that helps you to improve. Make contact with people who have already done this career change before, and exchange tips. If you want, do this in the comment section of this article!
You have another advantage with respect to 20 years old programmers, you have a background! Use it in your favor, maybe building something related to it, or just showing that you have other skills than coding. The future perfect programmer has to be good and efficient. Work on your soft skills and manage the ones you already have from your previous work, even if it's not related to programming at all.
Last the most important. You have to change your mindset. You can't just think that you can be a coder while being the same person you were before. All the other tips in this article have the objective to transform you into a programmer. Read tech news every day, learn everything you want to learn. Proceed at your own pace, and most importantly, have fun! This is programming.
Hope this helped and thanks for reading!
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