Online tutorials are great. They give you an introduction to learning a programming language, or framework. Codecademy, Free Code Camp and Rails For Zombies are all examples of free online resources that will help you dip your toe into the coding pool. They are a way to set you onto the path of apprenticeship, internship, or a bootcamp ( Curious about bootcamps? Check out this interview), which will eventually get you your first junior development gig (more about that here).
But what do you do after that?
In the meantime, let's talk about what you should do after you've used a free, online resource to learn some coding basics. And if after you've read this post you'd like a little more clarificaion or advice, you can pop into our Slack channel.
1. Pick one simple thing you want to build.
I'm not talking about Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. For simplicity sake, think of a real world object that can be made into code. Some examples might be a library, and airplane, or a cafe. But you should think of you own. Do that now!
2. Apply, Apply, Apply.
Let's say you've learned about arrays, hashes, and booleans. How might those data structures be represented in a cafe? You might have an array of menu items, or need to use a boolean to determine if the cafe is opened, or closed. Think about how you can apply these data structures to the idea you came up with.
3. Play with IRB or some other Interactive Shell.
Open up your terminal and type the words 'IRB'. Poof! You're inside of a place on your computer where you can play with code. Remember those data structures you came up with? IRB is a great place to practice building them.
If you don't have a MAC, you might have to download IRB. Don't stress! Downloading packages can be frustrating and confusing, but once you get past them, you can get a lot of work done.
4. Search GitHub for similar projects and see how people are building them.
Got to GitHub.com/search and enter your keyword. For example, I would enter the word 'cafe.'
On the left-hand side of the screen, you'll see two containers. On the first click "code," and on the second choose "Ruby," or whatever language you're learning. You can then narrow your search by clicking "Sort: Last Recently Indexed" on the dropdown. Now you can see how other people are using code to build something that interests you.
5. Create a Github account.
It took me months after messing around with my first coding tutorial to realize that GitHub was a thing. For those of you not familiar with it, GitHub is a version control and source code management system. What happens when you land your first programming job? You'll be using GitHub or something similar to add code to an existing code base. Before you start looking for jobs, it's helpful to have some example projects lined up for folks to see. And when you're given code challenges, some companies require that you put your answers into a private repository on GitHub. So, the sooner you get to working with this technology, the better!
6. Get yourself a text editor.
I'm going to suggest that you download Sublime Text. It's free, beginner-friendly, and comes with a feature called Vintage Mode. When you're ready to graduate from Sublime to VIM or when you're ready to configure your dotfiles, using Vintage Mode will be helpful.
7. Push a tiny piece of code onto GitHub.
Teaching you how to do so is a little more than I can fit into one blog post. So, if you want to see how to learn how to create a GitHub repository, and learn some basic GitHub commands live, fill in your info below. I haven't decided how I'm going to present this information yet (live webinar, email course, or maybe even an email challenge), but I'll keep you updated.
Welcome! My name is LaToya and I'm a full stack developer, speaker, and the founder of SheNomads. I'm building an inclusive community around tech, travel, and remote work. Let's get to know each other!
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