Beginner’s Dilemma: Your First 100 Hours of Learning to Code

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When you decide to learn to code, you’ll be hit with seemingly endless recommendations on what to do first. Some may tell you to learn HTML or JavaScript first because they’re so commonly used. Some will tell you to pick any language, and others will say you should have your first project in mind to pick a language. There are innumerable books and programs out there claiming to be the best way to learn HTML, Javascript, Node.js, Bootstrap, and other coding languages. You’ll probably see more than one ad for a coding bootcamp, too.

All this well-intentioned advice can make what already feels like an overwhelming task even more daunting. Depending on who you ask, you’ll receive very different answers to the question, “What do I do first?” It can be difficult to choose between what all seem like reasonable coding options.

This is why you have to ask yourself, “What do I want to do with coding?” If you have an idea of what you want to do, it’s easier to pick a path.

In this article, you’ll be presented with some general advice and ideas on how to proceed. But only you can decide what the best choice is for you. More important than giving you particular paths to take is helping you figure out how to decide what’s right for you. If you decide that you want to learn HTML or JavaScript, you might join a coding boot camp. You might just walk away thinking about what you want to do generally, and that’s great. What’s important is that you try to envision what you want to do with coding. Ultimately, only you can decide the right path to take.


First Steps Learning to Code

The first thing you’ll need to do if you want to learn to code is to tackle the basic syntax used in website coding. Additionally, to figure out what you want to do, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the types of web development. Doing these things will enable you to find what best suits your interests. It can’t be emphasized enough that your interests matter. There’s no point in forcing yourself to learn something you don’t enjoy.

Many people make coding harder for themselves because they don’t pay attention to their long term goals. What you want to do can help you decide whether you need to learn HTML or MongoDB. If you don’t need to learn HTML or MongoDB, there’s no sense in using your time and energy on them.

Familiarize yourself with the vocabulary of coding. Learn what JavaScript, Node.js, MySQL, Bootstrap, HTML, and other languages are used for. Consider what kinds of technologies you enjoy. What types of projects do you see yourself doing?

How do you prefer to learn? You can learn HTML from a textbook, but is that a method you would enjoy? You also can learn HTML quickly in a coding bootcamp. Knowing your interests and learning style are key to figuring out your next steps.

Most of what you’ll learn as a beginner will be applicable across the various programming languages you’ll encounter. This is why it doesn’t matter where you start out. If you hate JavaScript, ignore it. If you feel frustrated when you try to learn HTML, move on. If you enjoy learning from books or think you would do well with a coding bootcamp, run with that.


Important Coding Tips

Before you hit the ground running with a specific language, make sure to learn about the full stack web development. This will let you figure out what you like best. You don’t need to become an expert overnight (nor can you), but you should get a feel for what each stack is about. Picture yourself working in these stacks and think which you might enjoy. If some of them sound terrible to you, don’t study them!

While you should learn as much as you can, don’t overload yourself. Learn one thing at a time and learn it well before moving on.  If you want to learn HTML first, get comfortable with it. It’s important to challenge yourself, but don’t take on too much. Many people make their introduction to coding harder than it needs to be by stretching themselves too thin.

Decide on a project you’d like to try before setting out. This will help motivate you and keep you going when you hit hard spots. (And you will; everyone does!) This doesn’t mean that you should skip learning the fundamentals of coding, however.

Having a project in mind is a great way to give yourself goals. It doesn’t mean you have to rush to complete them. So, if you want to start working on websites, you can learn HTML or JavaScript.

Additionally, try lots of resources to see how you best like learning to code. There are endless resources online for beginners learning to code. An intensive coding boot camp may be right for you. Or you may want to take things slow. Find something that fits how you learn. If you want to learn HTML, grab a book on it and find some sites about it. Don’t be afraid of setting unhelpful resources aside. You may find them useful later or not at all. Everyone is different in this regard, and that’s OK.

Finally, don’t get stuck in any of these development resources. Make sure that you take as much time as you need to learn but keep progressing. You’ll stay motivated if you challenge yourself. It’s always tough the first time you’ve got to work through a problem by yourself. However, the rewards are well worth it.


Don’t Stress the Code

Learning to code is exciting but can be overwhelming. As you progress, you’ll get better. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, too. There are not only innumerable resources out there, but also plenty of people willing to help you. Reach out on a forum or to a friend. Finally, enjoy discovering everything coding has to offer.


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