Learning to Code: 5 Paths to Becoming a Software Developer and How to Enhance Your Skills Along the Way - Part I

Are you learning to code or looking to improve your technical skillset? Join us for a 5 part blog series on the many paths to a career in Tech and how you can improve your skills, and your job prospects, along the way! Monthly, from September through January, we’ll be exploring various learning mediums and how to best leverage those resources for success. We’ll cover free online tutorials and courses, coding schools/bootcamps, CS degree programs, interview prep, and continuing education.

Part I: The Self-Guided Route

Learning through Online Resources and Courses

Self-guided learning is an alluring prospect and can be worthwhile for the highly disciplined and motivated who thrive at learning on their own. Students can take topics at their own pace, pursue deep dives into specific concepts as needed or desired, and often finish with a completed project such as a portfolio website or simple app by utilizing free online tutorials or purchasing low cost (and low commitment) online courses from learning sites such as Udemy, Skillshare, or Coursera. These options can be a great place to start for the student motivated to “learn on their own”.

Taking advantage of free tutorials or online courses have low monetary cost and commitment when compared to a coding school, bootcamp, college or university. The daily time commitment can also be low, since students are able to learn at their own pace; working through premade tutorials and walk-throughs as their schedule allows. For those who have full-time jobs, this can be particularly helpful starting out. But it comes at a cost.

These resources, while free or at least affordable, are able to do so because they are often a “one and done” offering. Now, let’s stop here and acknowledge that while many authors or instructors of online resources are great about keeping their course content or tutorials up to date with emerging technologies or best practices and will respond to student questions, many do not. That’s why those resources are so affordable. For those “not in the know”, learning outdated material or having an unresponsive instructor, can be quite frustrating, especially if the student is new to coding. Always checking the date that a course or tutorial was updated and reading the comments from other students is a must. A course may have a lot of positive reviews, but when were they given? A year ago? Two years ago? A lot can change in our ever evolving tech landscape in the space of a year and while the course or tutorial may still be useful, knowing what has changed since it was created is important.

So, with all the online resources that the Tech community has offered for free, or at least for the cost-effective budget, why do folks still seek in-person or online help from tech tutors, coding schools, and the like? The answers are many, but here are a few common reasons:

  1. The Now What Reason: “Learning from 👉 insert free tutorial/course here 👈 was a great place to start, but I just felt like I didn’t know where to go when I finished.”
  2. The Superficial Reason: “Online walk-throughs and code alongs have been super helpful and I’ve made some really cool projects, but I don’t necessarily know WHY what I built works. I get it, but in a superficial way.”
  3. The Stuck On Start Reason: “I’ve learned a lot, but I wouldn’t know where to begin when building out my own project.”
  4. The Can’t See the Forest for the Trees Reason: “I didn’t know when it was time to move on. I just kept studying the same topics over and over because I felt like I needed to master every technical concept before moving to the next lesson, so I often felt like I wasn’t progressing.”
  5. The Lone Wolf Reason: “The author of my online tutorial was great, but I didn’t get any support in real-time. I often found that when I was stuck, I was stuck for long periods. Sometimes I didn’t even know what questions to ask in order to get unstuck.”
  6. The Interview Analysis-Paralysis Reason: “I’ve always been a motivated and responsible learner, but when it came to actually getting a developer job, I was paralyzed. I didn’t feel like I was prepared to get through a technical interview.”

If any of these reasons sound familiar, then hang around for the rest of this article. We’ve heard it all and so no matter what path you choose to take into the world of Software Development, Code Fellows is here to help. Now, let’s dig in to some practical tips and resources for students.

When students are learning to code, taking breaks and giving the mind a rest is essential. Here at Code Fellows, we often coach students to not sit with their problem for long periods of time. They’re advised to seek help from teaching assistants, instructors, or fellow students if they’re still stuck after having some time dedicated to solid effort and research. Often we’ve seen students completely solve their problem or understand the source of their bug just by explaining where they’re lost to someone else. The act of “talking it out” cannot be overstated. This is an essential aspect of not only learning, but also of being a productive and accountable teammate.

We also offer 1-on-1 support for students needing additional assistance outside the classroom or to those who just want the benefit of having an hour or two solely dedicated to them by an experienced developer while they build out a new project, refactor an old one, or practice for technical interviews. The benefits of this kind of personalized learning is plentiful - that’s why we offer it. We believe in software development skills for all and this is just one more way Code Fellows is dedicated to helping not only our students, but folks beyond our walls as well.

The moral of this article? Being stuck is okay. It happens to everyone, but knowing HOW and WHEN to get help is just as important as the solution. We don’t become skilled or masters of our craft in a vacuum. Sir Issac Newton once said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants”. We get to enjoy the success of hard work, because of those willing to teach and guide us along the way. That’s why we provide 1-on-1 support that’s tailored to the student through our Tutoring Program.

So, if you’ve ever wished that you could get personalized help from a software developer while working through a tutorial, class, or project (personal or professional), then look no further. As an educator and producer of quality tech talent in Seattle, we have access to a number of experienced, vetted, and trained developers who are passionate about helping others learn to code. Topics our tutors cover include, but are not limited to: general technical assistance, development environments, coding tool sets, project build processes, best practices, revision control basics, fundamental coding concepts, HTML and CSS, data structures and algorithms, database operation, automated testing, software development in a variety of languages, and more!

And for those who may be thinking that this kind of 1-on-1 support is only available for those struggling with technical concepts, think again. Working 1:1 with another developer is a valuable resource for not only getting unstuck, but also for general learning, mentorship, and networking. We’ve seen our Tutoring Program used for a variety of reasons: from getting help with coursework, to code reviews, to ramping up on a new technology, to interview prep. Code Fellows Tutors are here to help.

Ready to get started? The process is simple. Simply click the button below to fill out our general inquiry form. We’ll follow up with you right away via email (check your spam/junk folder just in case!). Be sure to follow the instructions in the email, that’s how we match you to your tutor. Once you’re matched, you’re free to start scheduling with your tutor immediately.

Payments are handled as your sessions are scheduled. No messy subscriptions or payment plans or commitments. Pay only for what you need. And the goodness doesn’t stop there! All profits go towards our Diversity Scholarship Fund, which is dedicated to making education more accessible for women, veterans, and other underrepresented groups in tech.

Now, let’s get you started by clicking the button below.

Questions? We love those! Email tutoring@codefellows.com

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