Excelling at something requires a lot of practice. And you’re most probably already aware of this. As the tech world is in continuous development, working in the tech industry requires you to be in a continuous learning process. Learn, unlearn, relearn. Repeat. But how can you make sure you make the most out of the resources surrounding you?
If you google “how to be a better programmer” you’ll find thousands of articles, videos, posts and so on sharing ideas on this. But you’ll also find that lots of them are a bit vague. “Document your journey” – okay, but how do I do that? “Join a community and share your thoughts” – okay, but where can I find a community where I can share my thoughts?
I surfed the internet to see what you could do to keep yourself in the learning and development zone. Below you’ll find a list of 5 ideas of activities you can start working on to boost your skills. All of them with insights on where and how you can start implementing them.
To join this challenge, all you have to do is commit to 100 days of daily coding for at least one hour. To determine yourself to code daily, consider publicly committing yourself to this challenge. Most of the time people track their progress and share their experience through Twitter, simply by adding the hashtag to their Tweets. On the official website of challenge, you’ll find a template for your first Tweet that you can easily use too. Publicly committing to a specific action will make giving up harder, so the chances of coding daily for at least one hour will increase.
What’s cool is that the creator expanded the challenge to any habit you want to add to your daily routine. So, if you want to commit to another learning challenge, check out 100daysofx. You’ll find a list of habits worth implementing in your daily routine, such as #100daysofexercise, #100daysofreading, or #100daysofgratitude. For the moment, try choosing one that resonates most with your current interests, needs, or wishes and stick to it. Maybe start with #100daysofcode if you’re looking to level up your coding game.
2. Document and share what you create.
When you publicly commit yourself to something, you increase your chances of pursuing that activity. And, by documenting and sharing your experiences you’ll end up with a number of benefits such as:
- Clear ideas and thoughts and increased communication skills. Documenting and sharing implies explaining what you plan to do to the outer world. Even if it might be clear to you to some extent, the conversation is not between you and your inner you or you and your teammates/people who know you. It’s between you and people who don’t know you very well or even at all. And if you can make random people understand what your project is about, then you can make sure your thought process is clear too. (And your communication skills are on point)
- Getting feedback/new ideas from people’s reactions. Once you start posting for a while, people who follow you will get more and more comfortable with sharing their input in regards to your content. Sometimes, their input might not be of use. But there are chances that your content will reach people who are genuinely interested in helping you or in providing you with useful input.
- Learning how to defend your ideas with clear arguments. Not everyone will be on the same wavelength as you, but it’s important to know how to tackle moments like this as well. Maybe you’ll encounter people who are curious about your thought process in a specific situation or maybe you’ll have to face a hater. Either way, you’ll get to improve your communication skills. Hooray!
- Developing a sort of portfolio that you can share with future clients/employers. When you apply to a new position or when you consider going after a new opportunity, you can easily share the online platforms where you’ve been documenting and sharing your experiences. It’s a little extra to let people see what kind of projects you’ve been working on, what’s your working style, how you tackle specific situations, and so on.
- Bonus: developing your social media skills? In case you ever want to change your career path, at least you’ll know what it’s like to work in social media (sort of).
So, let’s see where/how you can start documenting and sharing your experiences:
- Online platforms: Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tiktok, Youtube, Hacker News;
- Websites where developers can share articles/have their own blog: freecodecamp, Hashnode, Medium, Hacker Noon, Dev To;
- Create a blog on your personal website
a) Share your blog posts on social media platforms so more people can reach out to you and see what you’re up to.
3. Join a community and be active
There are lots of benefits from joining and being active in online communities. From peer programming to expanding your network, sharing feedback, tools, support, making code reviews, or giving/receiving mentorship, and many more. Here’s a list of communities you can join right away:
Hashnode is an online community where developers can share their knowledge and help eachother grow their careers. It’s also a great place to start blogging about your projects/ideas/experiences as a programmer.
Stack Overflow is a Q&A community where developers can ask & answer questions related to programming. If you have a question, chances are you’ll find your answers there. Or at least more ideas to test out.
Women Who Code is an international NGO that provides women in tech with a community where they can grow. They host events, share growth opportunities, and get involved in activities that support women in developing their careers as developers.
Freecodecamp is an NGO that provides programmers with learning resources for free – check out their Youtube channel for free courses, their blog for news and useful articles, and their platform filled with interactive coding lessons.
Hackernoon is a tech media website that shares stories, opinions, news, and so on, written by professionals in the industry. You can share your thoughts or see different perspectives on certain topics relevant to you.
Hack News is an online platform for news sharing. You can either submit links to technical content (it can even be written by you) or look for amazing content shared by others.
Also known as “The front page of the internet”, Reddit is an amazing place to interact with others from your area of interest. Whether your tech interests are, chances are there’s a subreddit on that topic. For example, there is already one on programming, but there are also sub communities on:
Dev is a community of software developers where you can learn from one another, expand your network, share your struggles, get feedback on ideas, and so on. It’s also a great place to start blogging, if you’re interested in that.
Twitter is an amazing place to engage in conversations on topics relevant to you. You can start by following profiles that bring developers together and, once you start joining the conversations, you’ll surely find people that resonate with you. Here are ten examples of profiles you can check:
- Google Developer Group
- Smashing Magazine
- Fortnite Creative
- Windows Developer
- Vue.js Developers Newsletter
Google Developers Groups aims to help developers get in touch with each other through meetups and hands-on workshops. You can see where the nearest GDG chapter is to you here.
4. Check the development process behind the projects you look up to.
It’s interesting to see how projects we admire look from inside. Of course, you can’t access most of them publicly. But, there are still some ways you can do this. For example, if you are a web developer, make a list of your favorite websites. Then, start checking out their source code to see the process behind it.
Another thing you can do is to start following programmers who document and share their work to see what their thought process is in all kinds of situations. Some examples of programmers who do this and who are pretty good at what they do are Scott Hanselman, Chris DiBona, Rasmus Lerdorf, Jeff Atwood, and Jennifer Dewalt. As the type of people you should follow depends on your interests, you can first start by being active in online communities, expand your network, and then decide who are the ones you look up to and are worth sharing.
5. Play a coding game
What’s a better way to learn than playing? Online learning has come a long way – it’s amazing to see that besides interactive courses, online learning communities, and tutorials, you can also get better at coding through playing actual games. Here’s a list of 5 games you can try out anytime:
There are many more things you can do to make sure you’re in a continuous learning process. You can read books, start a programming course on Coursera, Udemy, Pluralsight or any other educational platform. As I mentioned a bit earlier, online learning has come a long way. And the ideas mentioned above are just some of the things you can do. The most important thing is to understand the importance of continuous learning and that you actively start taking steps towards achieving it.
We’re always looking for new ways to work out our learning muscles. So, if you have other ideas of actions we could take besides the ones mentioned in the article, make sure to share them with us!
Article written by: Ruxandra Mazilu