So you’ve completed a tutorial, or maybe even an online class. You’re really excited about it all! In fact, this is a big milestone in your developer journey & career! You should be proud!
However, after the smoke settles and the fireworks are gone, you might be left with the unsettled feeling of… what comes next? Where do I go from here?
So first off, congratulations! You’ve reached a turning point. This is an awesome time to take some time out to reflect on where you’re at and where you want to go– to look over the project you just made and the skills you hopefully just learned! It’s also a good time to reevaluate your priorities and the direction you’d like to go.
But once you’ve done that, what do you do? If you’re out of ideas or unsure, here are some suggestions:
Recreate the same tutorial project from scratch - You already took the tutorial, but now you need to test yourself to see how much you actually retained. No cheating on this one if you can. Only look at the answers if you get stuck for more than 15 minutes. Set a timer if you have to. If you can figure it out, great! You just learned how to figure it out yourself. If not, that’s great too! You just learned what topic you need to review more of– also a valuable lesson! Studying in this manner will test your active recall and problem-solving skills in a relatively safe, low-risk manner. After all, you can always look at the tutorial since the material is still there! Win-win!
Add additional features to the tutorial project - There are so many possibilities here. You could redesign the UI, hook the project up to a database, add authentication, etc. If it’s a game, you could try adding a multiplayer feature, a timer, a scoring system, or a save feature. The sky’s the limit here. Challenge yourself to modify the tutorial so much that someone wouldn’t be able to tell it’s the same project as before. This sort of exercise will test your ability to add/build on to an already existing project. It’s also relatively safe because you’ve already got something working! It may sound boring to repeat the same material, but there’s no better way to make sure you’re truly “getting it”!
Create a new project from scratch using the same concepts that you’ve just learned - Recreate a similar project to the one that you just made, but modify the content and core of it somehow. So if you just made a to-do list app using arrays, try building something that also uses arrays, but in a different way or for a different purpose. A new project using the same concepts will test your ability to apply the concepts you already know to a new project.
Create your own chimera/hybrid project using the material from two or more tutorials - Have you taken more than one tutorial recently? If so, try combining them into a single project! This type of project will stretch your ability to synthesize material from multiple sources.
Recreate someone else’s project. Or, mimic an app you already use on a regular basis - Create a simplified version of Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, Pinterest, etc. Or pay homage to a favorite developer that you have by studying one of their projects. This will test your ability to start creating projects independently but also your ability to study and observe already existing software. It might also give you a newfound respect for someone whose work you already admire!
Find a programming concept that you’re still learning and design your own app about it - Just learn about linked lists or queues? Try building something with that knowledge! Or, if that’s still too hard, spend some time brainstorming possible use cases for how you might be able to apply that concept in a future project. You never know what’ll show up later down the road! This type of project will test your knowledge of core programming concepts & also help you learn how to build apps independently.
Still need ideas for a new project? Use an random idea generator! Or try creating your own idea generator tool! :)
Questions for Discussion
- Do you have a favorite way of studying & learning new material?
- How do you keep your knowledge fresh after you’ve finished a tutorial or class? Do you ever set aside time to review?
- What sorts of projects have you gotten the most mileage out of? What projects were the most fun?
- For more experienced developers- If you were starting out in your dev journey again now, what would you recommend to someone who was in your shoes?
I welcome your feedback. If you enjoyed this article or if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me on Twitter or write to me in the comments section below. Thanks for reading! :)