You are considering one of the biggest changes in your life. You want to become a software developer. Should you quit, your job and start learning straight away?
The answer to the question above depends a lot on your situation in life. But 99.99% of us shouldn’t quit our jobs just yet, and I will show you that you don’t need to, to succeed in becoming a software developer. At least not straight away.
Which leads us to my most important tip.
Tip 1 — Learning Software Development is a Marathon — not a race
The reason why I don’t encourage you to quit your job straight away is that becoming a Software Developer takes time and effort. It is not a race, more like a marathon.
The human brain is amazing. What looks impossible to us today, for the brain, if you give it some time, it will do wonders for you, if you condition it in the right way.
You can’t learn programming in 1 day, but with enough time, 99% of us can. Just be patient. Don’t make rash decisions. We all want to get there fast, but it doesn’t work like that. Everything takes time, just look at nature.
Tip 2 — Set your goals and don’t change your mind
You need to put in the time to learn. Make sure you set some time aside for learning. Start with modest goals that you know, you can keep. For instance 1-hour study every day and 2 h each day on weekends. Try to stick to this schedule, and once you set up the routine you can always review it later.
We are our worst enemies when trying to achieve our own ambitions. It is not the lack of intelligence but more the lack of persistence and focus that will stop us. Stop yourself trying to get quick results, because that is the biggest reason most of us fail.
Tip 3 — Choose your first Programming Language
If you want to learn software development, you do need to pick a programming language. There are thousands of programming languages out there. So which one do we choose?
If you ask me what programming language I recommend, I will say Python. But it is not the only right answer.
If you want to pick your first programming language well, choose a programming language that is very popular. Python, Java, Scala, PHP could all fit the bill.
Remember this is going to be your first programming language, not the only programming language that you will learn.
You want this to be a popular language not just because of demand in the market but also because the more popular a programming language is, the more resources you will have available online to support you on your learning journey.
Just pick a programming language, steer away from frameworks.
Tip 4 — Your computer is your most important tool
Besides your brain, your computer is going to be your most important tool. Like all tools, there are cheap and expensive tools.
If you take programming seriously you will need a decent computer, but you also don’t need the most expensive computer. I recommend you to buy a Mac. I know I am being quite specific, but I will explain in a second.
Try to get at least 16GB of RAM, every other spec is secondary if you can buy a laptop even better. A Mac can last for a decade, so it will be a worthwhile investment.
The reason I recommend an Apple computer is because they sponsor me…. just joking… its mainly because it runs MacOS, a UNIX-based Operating System. Most servers on the internet, these days run on Linux, which is also UNIX based, so if you use a Mac in your day to day programming, you will automatically become more comfortable when you need to deploy your code on a server! So just get a Mac, or maybe a linux laptop!
Tip 5. Learn the basics of computing at the same time as you learn your first programming language
After you pick your first programming language pick some good beginner tutorials and start learning. There are many options, out there. I recommend you to start on youtube. If Python is your programming language of choice you can watch my Python for Beginner series that I have started recently:
Make sure you also learn at the same time the basics of computing. Because if you don’t, then you are wasting a good opportunity. You don’t need to go too much in-depth.
You just need to know the basics. For example that computers think in binary, what bits are, why RAM is faster than disk storage, what a CPU is, that George Boole invented Boolean Algebra, which is what all the computers in the world run on. Alan Turing created the Turing Machine, and more recently that Satoshi Nakamoto invented Blockchain.
It will also be great to know what Assembly is and know some of the basics of computer architecture. Lookup John Von Neumann, the inventor of the modern computer architecture we have today.
A lot of this knowledge is easy to learn and actually quite interesting. So instead of watching that Netflix drama, watch this video. It must be fun because two million people have watched it.
And that’s it, if you follow these five tips, you will be certainly successful in your new career path.
Most important is to give your brain time to adjust, don’t put yourself under too much pressure, get the right equipment for the journey, and recognize that this quest is not a one day journey. It is a long term quest! But if you train and train, you will be ready to get to the finish line, once the opportunity comes along.