Becoming a Developer

So you decided to become a programmer? You took classes, online courses, and scoured the internet for tutorials to follow. Next, you’ve created personal projects to build your portfolio to get your dream job. You got the job but you come to realize that this isn’t quite like sitting in a classroom listening to your teacher.

Those online courses and tutorials were nice but it didn’t really prepare you for this. Education is very important in preparing yourself to work in the real world but most of the things you learn will not prepare you to work with real projects. So let’s discuss the differences between the two and what to expect when you are actually working on a real project.

As someone that started their career just a year ago, I was really surprised how projects started and finished. Much of my personal experiences were working on my own projects and some side projects here and there. Well, now I work with a team and one of the many lessons I’ve learned is that no developer is the same.

How you spend your time is very important, the client is not always right, and you work with a project manager that gives out daily tasks to help keep things on schedule. Education will help with developing the skills and tools that assist you in landing the job, but implementing those things can be an eye opener.

For instance, writing a simple “for loop” that prints out the odd numbers from 1-100. Simple right? Now, let’s retrieve data from a database and loop through what you wish to show the user. Yikes! For a beginner, this can be overwhelming and that’s why the best experience is real experience.

Books, tutorials, etc don’t really account for handling real data, bugs, client’s needs or expectations. Although they’re important, it can be a hindrance to your growth as a developer. The problems are already worked out and a good portion of development is solving problems. Getting away from tutorials and building your own projects from scratch is a good way to get ready for working on real projects.

Freelance work or contributing to open source projects are good ways to build skills and knowledge. The goal is to get out there and deal with the unknown because every project is not the same. What you implemented in one project may not always work with another. Also, this will give you a chance to learn new technologies, concepts, and understand a lot of the logic that goes into building real world projects.

In conclusion, let the tutorials and education help build the fundamentals. They are good for practice but eventually break away and get creative. Think of developing like a drawing, following tutorials are good if you need a reference but essentially it’s like tracing said drawing. Practice what you’ve learned and trust what you know. You can’t expect to become a real developer just by practicing alone. When you do get your dream job, try to get your hands on as many projects as you can and don’t be afraid to ask for help from more experienced developers. It’s the only way to truly get better and on your way to becoming a real developer. 

So get out there and create!

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