Learn to Code in 2018 Without Breaking The Bank
by Luis Rocha
Feb 22, 2018
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In a typical introduction paragraph, similar articles begin by listing the reasons that you should learn to code. In 2018, most of you don’t need convincing! The skill is in high demand, the pay is above the national average, and opportunities are plentiful. At least 3 times a week, friends and strangers online ask me about how I got my start as a web developer. In this week’s blog post, I’ll break down step-by-step just how I got my start along with some new and improved tips I can now offer through the benefit of hindsight.
These tips are straight-forward and easy to follow and are largely free of cost. The intention of this guide is to provide a free and simple outline so that anyone can take the first steps without any excuses. This guide is for everyone, from high school students to senior citizens. I am incredibly passionate about the tech field and want anyone who is interested in learning more to have open access to helpful information so that you can take advantage of the opportunities this field has to offer. With that being said, let’s get started!
Web Dev 101: A Brief Introduction On Languages
Quick definitions on the purpose of each coding language:
- HTML defines the content of web pages
- CSS specifies the layout and design of web pages
Baby Steps and Confidence Building
When first starting out, baby steps are vital. These small, easy to follow lessons serve to build up both your knowledge on coding basics as well as your confidence with the subject matter. This creates a snowball effect where the more confident you feel, the more you want to learn, which makes you even MORE confident so you spend MORE time learning etc etc etc.
Time to give that snowball its first little push!
The reason I ALWAYS tell aspiring web developers to start with CodeAcademy is the way that the lessons gently and slowly present new concepts to you in a way that let’s your brain digest it in bite-sized chunks. You’ll finish every lesson feeling empowered and downright smarter! This feedback loop is addicting and had me spending weekend nights home alone instead of out with friends. Make sure you bookmark THIS link and get started on it as soon as you can!
Baby Steps Continued
(I should probably take this time to mention that I am not sponsored by CodeAcademy in any way. The website was my entry into web development and I’m very grateful and passionate about their approach towards teaching beginners the basics.)
No More Training Wheels
Reading this book will test you more than CodeAcademy did as, let’s face it, reading a text book is not as fun as learning alongside an interactive website. This is a valuable time to train your focus and motivation towards the subject matter. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted or give up. Remember why you wanted to get started in the first place and motivate yourself constantly.
Investing in Yourself
Up until now, you have been learning important foundational elements in web development while not doing much in the way of putting them into action. For your next step, I recommend Team Treehouse’s Front End Web Development online course. Team Treehouse is highly reputable and has been a known name in the coding instruction industry for years. This course will review the basics as well as teach you how to apply your sharpened skills and actually BUILD things. These courses follow a subscription model, costing $25/ a month, but you also have the option of a 7 day free trial. Check it out and see if their teaching style works for you. I personally continue to find value in their lessons to this day.
(note: Treehouse doesn’t pay me either! Again, I have just really enjoyed taking their online courses in the past.)
What About Coding Bootcamps?
I have touched on the subject of whether or not you should attend a coding bootcamp in the past. I attended a coding bootcamp in 2015 and had a mostly positive experience. However, 3 years later the industry has expanded rather quickly, founders have sold or left their bootcamps, and many notable instructors that help establish a name for their bootcamps have moved on to new bootcamps and opportunities. You can not rely on the brand-name of a bootcamp anymore. I have and will always say that instructor lineage is the most important thing to look out for in a bootcamp.
I hope to continue to elaborate on the subject more in the future, as it is near and dear to me. For now, I highly recommend you check out the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting’s Data on Bootcamp Outcomes. This is a comprehensive report on a given bootcamp’s results verified by an independent audit. Participating bootcamp’s must offer insights on how many students graduated on time, how many accepted a full-time job in the field within six months, their salaries, etc etc. It is the definitive way to vet a bootcamp and their quality of instruction. Don’t see your bootcamp on the list? While not always a bad sign, this means that that particular bootcamp chose not to be a part of this audit and keep their outcomes classified information. It is up to you to decide whether or not this is a red flag.
Learning to code can be a frustrating and daunting experience - but it’s also incredibly rewarding and it literally pays off! Over the previous steps you have been exposing yourself to new skills and a new way of thinking and it’s awesome that you’ve made it this far. You’ve picked up on foundational coding basics that I along with more experienced programmers use EVERY DAY on the job. If you’re serious about breaking into the industry, then you’re already off to a great start.
The journey from beginner to a hired web developer is long and no two are alike. I hope to help all those interested take important steps towards making that goal a reality. Make sure you subscribe to my e-mail newsletter or follow me on Instagram or Twitter to keep up with my blog posts and get more tips on how to break into the coding industry. I am always available to help with any questions via email, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.