Starting a new career is like embarking on a road trip. It’s exciting but also nerve-racking, especially if you’re navigating unfamiliar territory.
But like any road trip, you would never leave home without a map.
These tips are directions for you to follow on your path towards a successful coding career—including the can’t-miss roadside attractions and potential detours of coding for beginners.
Phase 1: Determining The End Goal
Coding is not a career in and of itself, but rather a doorway into a world full of possibilities. Planning your coding career path is highly dependent on what the final destination is.
So what are some of your options?
The best path for you will depend partly on which field interests you the most. Are you looking to learn how to become a web developer? Researching about how long it takes to become a computer programmer? There are plenty of practical tips for all aspiring coders as you start your journey.
Phase 2: Skill-Building
Coding is a complex skill that anyone can acquire with the right resources and work ethic. When planning your career path, focus on skills that will make you a highly qualified applicant.
#1 Learn The Right Coding Languages
There are many coding scripts to choose from, and they’re not all created equal. Here are four simple to learn yet incredibly valuable languages to start out with:
- HTML – Your browser reads HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and determines what to display, including headers, paragraph text, navigation bars, and so on. It also connects the various pages of a website to each other. Technically, HTML is the only script you need to create a website, but it won’t be as pretty or intricate as you might like.
- CSS – CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is an excellent companion language to HTML because it can turn basic text and functions into a beautiful web page with colors, layouts, fonts, and more.
- Processing – This is a straightforward yet powerful coding language. It’s excellent for visualization and design purposes, adding beauty to the functionality of other scripts. Hint: If you have an artistic sensibility, this might be the language for you.
Once you’ve mastered some or all of these popular languages, you can expand to other more nuanced and specialized scripts.
#2 Have Your Code Reviewed
Showing your code or program to more advanced coders in the community is a valuable practice to engage in for a few reasons:
- You’ll become accustomed to having your code evaluated and perhaps picked apart, which may happen in the workplace when developing a project with a team.
- You’ll learn from your mistakes in a low-pressure environment, giving you time to improve before it really matters.
- You’ll form connections with accomplished community members who may guide and support you down the line.
Asking for help shows humility and self-awareness. Capitalize on your status as a beginner coder by seeking guidance and mentorship where you can.
#3 Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect
Coding can be fickle. One wrong punctuation mark, one seemingly insignificant typo, and your program can grind to a halt.
The more you exercise your coding muscles, even after you’ve “mastered” the skill, the better prepared you’ll be for new and unfamiliar challenges.
Whether you were formally educated, entirely self-taught, or some combination of both, you can always return to online programs and resources as a way of brushing up on your skills or learning a language you don’t already know.
Phase 3: Practical Work Experience
Once you feel confident in your coding abilities, it’s time to put them to good use.
#4 Work On Collaborative Projects
When you’re first starting out on your path towards coding, you should be open to all kinds of opportunities. Sometimes this includes volunteer-based projects or freelance gigs—every experience is valuable.
Collaborative endeavors are especially useful because they show future employers that you understand the importance of teamwork and participate well within one.
There are a couple of key ways to get involved in these cooperative enterprises:
Exposing yourself to different facets of coding can influence your career path by uncovering a passion you didn’t know you had. These completed projects will also enhance your portfolio and introduce you to potential mentor figures, coding professionals, or future partners within the coding industry.
#5 Execute Your Own Work
Sometimes, coding is about implementing other people’s visions. They explain the product or website, and you write the code. But that doesn’t mean coding doesn’t require original ideas.
Developing and executing an app, program, or website by yourself shows immense creativity, ambition, and skill. If you’re still a beginner, remember that it doesn’t need to be overly complicated to be impressive. A simple but functional website feature will show more career aptitude than a complex, poorly constructed one.
Phase 4: Entering The Job Market
With the right skills, experience, and a fleshed out portfolio, you’re ready to start the job hunt. This can be tough because the process of landing a job is largely out of your hands, but there are ways to set yourself up for success aside from just a resume and cover letter.
#6 Create Your Developer Identity
Coding (and coding well) is a huge part of becoming a web developer or computer programmer. But your code doesn’t live inside of a vacuum, and neither do you.
The following questions can provide a jumping-off point into a deeper dive as to how you’d like to shape your identity:
- How does who you are as a person, not a coder, influence how you approach projects or solve problems?
- What values do you want to shine through your work?
- What do you prioritize in writing code or developing projects? Simplicity and accessibility? Visual aesthetics? Streamlined service?
Developing a personal “brand” can communicate to recruiters that you have more to offer than, well, computer skills.
#7 Prepare For The Technical Interview
There’s more to coding interviews than the usual sit-down-and-talk meetings. A technical interview focuses on your coding proficiency, problem-solving skills, and knowledge of fundamental concepts. There are many ways that your potential employer will assess this:
- Present you with a code that you analyze for performance deficiencies and potential improvements.
- Ask you to design a large-scale system to determine your understanding of computer science fundamentals.
- Create a coding challenge for you to solve in a limited amount of time, typically known as a “whiteboard interview.”
You can practice with coding problems found online or review and analyze open-source code to exercise these mental muscles.
Phase 5: Opportunity for Expansion
Your path towards a fulfilling coding career doesn’t end when you secure your first real coding job.
In reality, that’s only the beginning.
There is always opportunity for upward mobility in tech companies. Here is one example of a potential career path:
- Junior Developer
- Senior Developer
- Lead Developer or Architect
- Product or Project Manager
- Senior Leadership
Many of these positions are even done at home as companies increase remote tech jobs. These can all be part of your coding career path if you continue to invest in yourself and work hard.
#8 Stay Current
Coding careers can have a limited shelf-life because of the rapid expansion and development of technology in general. The way coding professionals combat that is by staying up-to-date with technological advancements, new coding languages and programs, and the latest industry trends.
If you want a long, fruitful career, there’s always more to learn.
The Path Begins With Disney Codeillusion
On your career trajectory, learning to code is like stopping to fill up on gas before you hit the open road—you won’t make it very far otherwise.
In this case, Disney Codeillusion is your full-service gas station, complete with windshield cleaning and tire pressure checks:
Today could be the day. Pack your bags, start the car, and embark on your coding career path with Disney Codeillusion.
Medium. Fields of Programming. https://medium.com/coding-den/fields-of-programming-67e8a0976d4b
CenturyLink. Career Path of a Programmer. https://www.ctl.io/developers/blog/post/career-path-of-a-programmer/