My Strategies for Learning to Code

When I first started learning to code, I didn’t have much of a strategy. I floated between podcasts, Codecademy, and talking to my friends who worked in the industry. It wasn’t a bad approach, but after taking a few months to learn some basics and look into code bootcamps, I started developing a more organized strategy.

Often, I have felt adrift in my learning process–not sure of what is most important and what I might be missing completely. But lately, I’ve been getting glimpses of the big picture: what code bootcamp will be like, and more distantly, what working as a programmer will be like. That’s given me some confidence in my approach and helped me use my time more productively.

Here are the strategies for learning to code and preparing for bootcamp admissions that have worked best for me:

  • Using a variety of learning tools to find the ones that work best for me (and to switch between when I need a change in scenery.) I’ve used W3Schools, Codecademy, Udacity, Codewars, Coderbyte, Codefights, and Flatiron’s free lessons on Learn.co, as well as podcasts, blogs, and Twitter.
  • Taking notes on anything that may be useful in the future. I created a .txt document so that I can easily add and search for bits of code. I also define terms, summarize concepts, and paste in websites that I may need to refer back to.
  • Being open to both long and short study sessions. Sometimes, I can get wrapped up in involving code challenges for a couple hours without noticing the time pass, but for tasks that I’m dreading, it’s tough to get motivated to push through them. I try to set aside 20-30 minutes to chip away at tricky or otherwise untempting tasks.
  • Identify recurring concepts and mastering them. Recently, I created a 24 problem “quiz” for myself that covered concepts, such as recursion, that I had encountered but not fully mastered. With help from Google, I solved (and then re-solved) the problems until the solutions came easily to me.
  • Trying to finish a study session on a high note; it’s a morale boost that makes it easier to get back to work later. (That said, if I get stuck on a problem that seems unsolvable, I take a break from it. More than once, I have returned to a coding challenge with fresh eyes and quickly noticed an easily fixable mistake.)
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