Sometimes a crisis in a career can force you to change the place of work or even completely change your specialty and start a new career. You would have to master new skills for a new profession though. Usually, people switch to a modern, promising profession like a career in programming. It is interesting, comfortable and profitable. In this article, we will try to answer the question of how to build a career as a programmer from scratch.
You should start your path as a developer by answering the main question: “Do you need programming at all?”. This question is actually not that easy to answer. If you prefer math to the humanities, if you like to spend a lot of time at your computer, if you want to learn something new and solve complicated tasks, then programming is probably right for you.
Where to Start
There are several ways to become a developer. Aside from that, there are also exceptions. For example, some people start learning coding in childhood just because their parents are developers. Sometimes programming is a hobby that gets so serious that a person becomes good enough to land an actual job. Anyway, let’s list the most popular ways people use to get into programming. If you already have programming skills, just skip this part.
- Self-education. This option can be used both individually and in combination with other methods. Anything can be found on the web. That includes books and other materials that can help you learn different programming languages and technologies. But this way is rather hard for beginners.
- A lot of young people choose programming as a future career when they are about to finish school. Getting a degree in the IT field can be a bonus when applying for a job. It would also help to gain the right knowledge. But it won’t be enough without self-studying. Choosing your university widely and responsibly. Carefully study the syllabus and choose the best technical universities.
- It’s much easier to learn something when someone with more experience can help you. Try to find someone who’s already in programming, someone who will guide you in the right direction. This person will help you find the right books and resources, check your code, give useful tips.
- Specialized courses. Try to find courses in your city where you will be taught some programming language or technology. It’s not that hard. There are many online courses on the web, including free ones.
What Language, Technology, Direction to Choose
When you become a programmer, in a year or two you will be free to choose any language you like. But when choosing the first programming language, a beginner must consider the following criteria:
- Demand on the job market. The ultimate goal of this journey is to find a job as a programmer. And this will be difficult if no one in the job market is looking for developers skilled in not demanded programming language. Check out job sites, see who’s looking for what, write down a dozen languages. And move on to the next criterion.
- Low learning curve. If you have to spend a long time learning a language, it may discourage your desire to learn programming at all. Read about the demanded languages you chose before and choose the ones that don’t have a steep learning curve. PHP, Ruby, Python can be such languages.
- The thrill of the process. If you do not like writing code in your chosen language, you will not enjoy your future career. So what’s the point? Make the right choice!
You will also have to choose the direction of programming. Mobile, desktop, games, web, low-level programming and so on. The most popular and relatively easy industries are web, mobile, and desktop app development. One language may fit in each direction and not fit in another. That is, when choosing a programming language, you should also consider this factor. Also, check out a few CVs of already employed developers to get a better idea of what is in demand these days – example of good mobile app developer CVs.
How to Get an Initial Experience
You will not get a job without experience. You will not gain experience without work. The closed circle of real life. But nothing bad, we will get out of it.
First, do not wait until you have read all the books in your chosen programming language. Start writing your first lines of code as soon as possible. Perform all assignments from books, reprint examples. Complicate examples and assignments from books with your own ideas. Create your own tasks for the material you have completed. Solve these problems.
Second, you need to find your first projects. This is probably the most difficult task but it works well. You will have to look for orders yourself, fulfill them, and bother with payment. For the beginner, it is extremely difficult but it’s worth it. Completed projects directly reflect your experience and that’s more than good in the eyes of your future employer. Real projects are a big plus in your resume.
Another good option for getting real experience is open-source projects. Such projects always need new people, even beginners. Finding such projects is easy on GitHub or other code hosting services. Feel free to ask questions there.
The last way is to own projects, various hackathons or work in co-working. It is difficult to start your own projects, so you better find some friends.
What You Need to Know Besides the Programming Language
Everyone needs to learn algorithms. Try a Coursera course or find a suitable algorithm book for yourself. In addition, you need to know one of the databases, programming patterns, data structures. It’s also worth getting acquainted with code repositories. At least with one. Required knowledge of version control systems. Choose Git, it’s the most popular. You need to know the tools you work with, the operating system and the development environment. And the programmer’s main skill is to be able to Google. You will not live without it.
The Last Steps
You need to prepare a resume. Not just a resume, but a good resume, preferably a portfolio as well. There is no need to write extra information there, but don’t be shy about your skills too. After you have been invited for an interview, you must prepare for it. Go through the material in your resume. You need to be confident in your knowledge. Look at the projects you worked on, remember the technologies you used. And good luck with a new profession of a programmer.