So, you want to be a programmer?
With the rise of technology, there has been a rise in programming languages. With a growing list of languages, including C, C++, PHP, ASP, Java, and Python, how should a prospective developer get started?
When dealing with programming, there should almost always be a target in mind. I advise picking a project or an area of interest and programming around it. This can narrow down the vast amount of options available. If you enjoy web development, maybe you should learn PHP or ASP. If you enjoy mobile development, maybe you should start with Java or Objective-C.
I started my own journey through programming languages by looking at job postings in my University’s computer science building. Each job offer required a programmer with many languages under their belt and at the time, I only had one. Thus started my quest for programming books. Using a list compiled from job requirements, I slowly acquired books about each language. After a few pages of reading with the computer open:
YES! The first step on my road to Python mastery was complete. The next step… something more challenging. I challenged myself by writing a new program each week, while rotating between the languages I wanted to learn. Were these programs revolutionary? No. I often chose existing programs and tried to recreate them. Were these programs fully bug-proof? No. But what these programs did was help me to become more comfortable with the languages and their complexities.
When you embark on your own journey, regardless of which languages you choose to learn and how you choose to learn them, there are a few things to keep in mind:
• Practice, practice, practice. Sounds simple enough. While there are many great resources for learning language syntax and grabbing quick code snippets for functionality, practice is the only way to hone your skills.
• Understand/Accept that you will never know it all. I’ve yet to meet someone who knows every python function call, PHP function call, and can type into the terminal flawlessly without once checking a reference. Many great resources exist to help you get through your day-to-day programming life. Bookmarks can be a lifesaver.
• Become “a Jack-of-all” languages, but a master of few. It’s good for a programmer to be fluent in a variety of languages. Knowing the basics of multiple languages can help you become more rounded and become a better problem solver. Writing code is simply the means in which a programmer solves problems. Bouncing in between 2 or 3 of your favorite languages can keep you from getting too comfortable where you are and can keep your brain actively thinking. Plus, you never know when a new technology will come along that utilizes a language that you’ve kept on your radar.
• In theory, everything else is syntax. Once you learn the basics, programming languages should be fairly interchangeable. Don’t let yourself get tied down to the syntax of one language. Figuring out the process is the hard part, implementing that process is a different set of bits.
If you didn’t know by now, programming is where to be. The opportunities are endless whether you’re programming for work or for fun. If you are looking for places to get started on your journey, check out the links below: