Macbook Pro on a black wooden table surrounded by books and a smartphone

The best way to start your developer career

Looking to land a job in programming? I go over some tips on how to give yourself the best possible start.

I get this question a lot:

Ayooooo! I wanna get into coding. What languages do you recommend?

Normally, I’d give the standard answer of Python or Javascript — each being a widely adopted language with many great resources available for learning. But lately I’ve been giving that response a little more thought.

In my opinion, the best way to start your developer career is by investing your time and energy into something that inspires you about technology. For example, if you like using apps, learn to make one yourself. If web design interests you, learn how to create a website. If you’re more into algorithms and maths, why not focus on something related to data science or machine learning?

The reason I say this is because from my own personal experience, I feel like focussing on web and mobile app development would have been a better use of my time at uni. Don’t get me wrong, all four years were incredibly valuable for learning theories & concepts, increasing my chances of employability and of course, making good friends. But (speaking only technically), I’ve only used a subset of what I’ve learnt from my degree in the real world and everything I’ve learned about web development since I did via some YouTube videos & online tutorials.

If getting a degree in computer science isn’t looking like an option, or something you’re not interested in, a lot of the online courses available assume no prior programming knowledge. This makes it even easier for beginners to get into coding — if you were worried you needed to know the basics beforehand. Not to mention, these courses are typically much cheaper than a £9000+ per year degree (at least here in the UK). For instance, freeCodeCamp offers a wealth of knowledge and certifications for absolutely no fee whatsoever. People literally use the platform to get the knowledge they need and then get the job they want.

Speaking of which, if you’re completely stuck and don’t know where to begin, I’d recommend taking a look at a few junior level job adverts and taking note of what sort of programming languages and tools they expect you to be familiar with. Find some trends and commonalities in those ads and then, commit to learning that tech! Once you’re comfortable, use those skills to build a portfolio that will demonstrate your abilities to potential employers. The earlier exposure you have to the languages and tools you’ll be working with every day, the better!

If you were looking for some quick and dirty method to start your coding career, this probably isn’t what you wanted to read. Not gonna lie, coding in general is not the most straightforward thing to pick up and instantly become a master at. Even I still question my life choices every time I’m left gazing upon a meaty bug. But it’s the same with anything worthwhile — your time, energy and genuine commitment will be required to succeed. So regardless of whatever you’re seeking to learn, commit to it and you’ll get there. 💪🏾