The 3 Mistakes I Made Learning to Code

Head in hands

I want to tell you about some of the mistakes I made when I was learning to code. These mistakes set me back months (if not years). I’m sharing them with you today, so hopefully, you don’t repeat them. Here are the three biggest mistakes I made when I was learning to program:

1. The first mistake I made was trying to learn more than one programming language at once.

When I first started programming, like many other beginners, I tried to learn multiple programming languages at once. Trying to learn Python and Objective-C at the same time stopped me from making enough progress in either.

I’ve seen beginners trying to learn as many as three programming languages at once. When you are learning to code, you should avoid this. Pick one programming language, master it, and then learn more languages. When you learn how to program in one language, you will be able to pick up any other language in the future easily.

2. The next mistake I made was wasting time becoming a full-stack developer.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, programmers often work as either front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers. Front-end developers design the user interface (the part you can see) of an app or a website, back-end web developers work with the logic and data behind an app or website, and full-stack developers do both.

When I was learning to program, I became a full-stack developer. If I were going to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have. There was a time when being a full-stack developer was all the rage. Its not anymore because it is too difficult to be an all-star front and back-end developer. The problem is stacks are much bigger than they used to be.

Being a full-stack developer means you can do two jobs. When you are learning to program, your goal should be to get a job, not be able to do two jobs. Becoming a full-stack developer might sound cool, but you most likely will end up being able to do two different jobs poorly instead being an all-star at one, which is what happened to me.

Besides, you shouldn’t even be thinking about what programming domain you want to specialize in until after you’ve learned to code. What if after spending some time programming, you decide you want to become a data scientist? If you start studying to be a full-stack developer from the beginning, you’ve wasted a whole lot of time

3. The final mistake I made was waiting too long to get started.

I took an introduction to programming class my freshman year of college but dropped it because it was too difficult (my teacher taught me Java, if only he had started with me with Python I probably would have stuck with it!) I wish I had stuck with programming when I first had the idea to try it.

They say the best time to plant a tree was yesterday and its the same thing with learning to code. But if you didn’t start yesterday, at least you can start today…

Want to learn to program? Register for my free Self-Taught Coder Masterclass where I cover how I went from a novice to a software engineer at eBay in less than one year. 

Published by Cory Althoff

Cory Althoff is the author of The Self-Taught Programmer, which Book Authority named one of the best software books of all time.

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