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Where to start your development career

June 18, 2019

Becoming a career developer can be challenging at times. With a ton of material out of the internet, it can be difficult to know where to start. And even if you know where to start, it can be difficult to stay motivated.

What follows is a brain dump of tips to help you on your journey to coding greatness. I don’t go too deep into anything here, but I may use some of these tips as a jumping off point for future posts.

Become friends with your terminal

I was intimidated when I first started using my terminal, but now I use it every day. You may be intimidated as well. If you are, know there is hope. The more your use your terminal, the more comfortable you will be with it.

Start with simple tasks, like learning how to navigate your computer or how to read a file. Then, work your way up to more powerful tasks, like creating, updating or deleting files, as well as how to pipe data through multiple tasks. Maybe even do a deep dive into bash.

Learn how to git

Git is by far the most popular version control system (VCS) available today, and if you want a career in software development, you need to learn how to use it. Preferably within the context of a team.

Start a Github account. Push and pull code to and from your repo. Create a new branch and open a pull request. And if you’re feeling adventurous, learn git’s internals.

Take a class

There are literally hundreds of places to learn development online. My advice is to look for classes that encourage you to build things. It’s also important to get feedback on what you make. Get involved in the class’s community. Show your work. Ask questions. If your class doesn’t provide a channel for feedback, contact me. You can never truly learn where you need improvement without the input of others.

If you want to supercharge your learning (and you have the time and money), do a bootcamp. Keep in mind bootcamps are usually designed to expose you to the most current concepts and frameworks in a short amount of time. They are focused on giving you a breadth of knowledge, not necessarily depth. But they also usually help with job placement.

Join a community

No developer is an island. You need a community of people with like interests that inspire and motivate you on a regular basis. Find some dev meetups. Join a dev Slack group. Put yourself out there and make some connections.

Keep at it

Learning to code is not easy. It will stretch your brain in ways you never thought possible. But you can do it. I know you can because I did. It took me four years while working a full-time job, but I was able to make the move from designer to developer.

Honestly, I think the most difficult thing I had to do was figure out what I wanted to do with coding. Being a designer, I naturally gravitated to front-end development, but I wasn’t really sure. It took getting my current job at The Container Store to help me realize I’m passionate about accessibility, scalable CSS, and building UI.

Build things. Get help when you’re stuck. And don’t be afraid to take on challenges you may not be able to accomplish. When you’re first starting out, you have to figure out what ignites your curiosity.

If you thought this was helpful, or if you have any questions, let me know on Twitter or drop me an email. I am always eager to help.