In my experience many learners make one or more of the following mistakes:
- They underestimate how hard it is to learn to code
- They underestimate how long it will take and how much they need to learn
- They fail to prioritize their learning, especially in terms of how much time they will need per day
- They don’t connect with a network of other learners
- They give up too soon
Here are my suggested solutions for each mistake, in turn.
Learning how to code is challenging. Many people will undoubtedly find it to be the most difficult academic assignment they have ever attempted. All students should internalize the concept that they WILL run into difficulties, get frustrated, question their intelligence, and finally need help. A lot. This process will be performed again for several months.
It will take a new developer at least a year to become an employable junior developer with four hours a day of training and practice. Longer may be needed. You have a LOT to learn; it goes beyond simple syntax. You also need to become familiar with git, databases, fundamental networking ideas, debugging, a set of programming tools, a mechanism to distribute your apps, and perhaps a lot more auxiliary technologies. Particularly in web development, this is a thing.
Learning to code isn’t a thing you’re doing, it is the thing you’re doing for the next year. Everyone has to know this. You have to prioritize it over friends, your favorite TV shows, sports, exercise, self-care time, etc. It requires sacrifice, especially in the beginning. Even family time needs to be sacrificed to an extent. I’m not saying don’t talk to your spouse or play with your kids, but you have to set up a schedule and stick to it. If that means leaving the house at the agreed upon times, then do it. Getting your spouse behind you while you do this is a must. Have the conversation and make a firm agreement to prioritize what you’re trying to do. It is in the nature of spouses to try to steal some of their time back from your coding. Stay strong and remind your loved one that while you still care for them deeply, you are doing this for your family and your future.
Don’t learn to code alone! Find a local meetup group for coders. If there isn’t one, start one. Also, find online groups like the one at FreeCodeCamp.Ask for help and offer it to others when they ask. This is critical. You need to start taking steps into the world of software development.
Quitting is a guaranteed path to failure. Please see point #1, up above. When the coding gets hard the best answer is not to give up but to persevere. Tenacity is talent.