Entering the tech industry can be very exciting and overwhelming at the same time, which means navigating the field can be intimidating, even for experienced programmers. The open-source, community-contributed nature of the industry means that popular software, languages, frameworks, and even roles themselves are constantly changing, which means the only way to stay up-to-date is to spend a lot of time immersing yourself. Thankfully, there are a few resources that make it easy to do just that, regardless of whether or not you’re a seasoned engineer or just trying to break into the field.
1. Classes and Communities
The value of taking coding classes comes from more than just the curriculum itself: it comes from the community that you take the classes with. If you’re just looking for information, it’s easy to sit through a handful of lectures and read some notes. But asking and answering questions, creating projects with classmates, and sharing information with your community is what makes classes so valuable. Tech Talent South (TTS) has a variety of coding courses that cover everything from coding basics to advanced systems and data science. What sets TTS apart from other coding bootcamps is the small class sizes and direct instructor interaction that allows for mutual interaction with your class. This small community empowers you to discuss projects and build off of each other’s interest. Just by being active in a community may lead you to develop a new skill, start a new hobby, or even find a job opportunity. You don’t need to be professional to contribute to a community, everyone has their own unique skill set. Whether it’s through taking classes, posting on Reddit, or even Twitter, make the most out of your community by being an active member, networking and connecting with like-minded people.
Podcasts might be the single most effective way of passively taking in information. Whether you’re exercising, commuting, or just chilling in the house, an hour- long podcast can give you incredible insight into some new groundbreaking technology or important concepts. Once you find a few that you like, it will introduce you to a whole host of topics that you might not have known about before. In addition, many podcasts are sponsored by tech businesses, and subscribers get first dibs and discounts on really valuable resources for developers.
Blogs, like podcasts, appeal to a following using highly curated informative content. Once you know what you’re interested in, blogs will keep you updated with relevant news, tips, and tricks that could improve your skills and inspire new projects. For example, if you really want to learn more about CSS, or become a database engineer, or want to stay updated on the latest game development news. Becoming more familiar with the industry you’re trying to enter is especially important to employers, and shows your interest and commitment to the role.
Here are some of my personal favorite tech blogs:
4. Videos & Streams
Watching videos can be a great way to wind down and relax, but it’s also the perfect time to pick up some new knowledge and skills. The most important thing is to find content creators that you find interesting and entertaining, instead of forcing yourself to watch coding streams for three hours (unless you’re into that). Some of my favorite videos are:
- Coding interviews: watching other people do coding interviews makes doing them yourself a lot less intimidating, plus you can learn from their explanations and solutions. I recommend pausing the video to think about your own implementation before watching the solution!
- Personal projects: there are few things that I enjoy more than watching someone explain a personal project that they are really passionate about! Whether it’s an app, game, or fully integrated hardware build, there are some incredibly creative projects that have broadened my perspective on what’s possible
- Tech stories and vlogs: There are a lot of software engineers with YouTube channels that post coding tips, tricks, and stories
5. Personal Projects
This is my number one recommendation to anyone who’s trying to improve their coding skills. You can read articles, listen to podcasts, follow all the blogs you want, but at the end of the day, you can’t improve without simply practicing. The key to personal projects is, incidentally, finding something that’s personal to you, something that you genuinely want to create. What will inevitably happen is you envision something amazing and get really excited about developing it, then hit a few walls and rapidly lose enthusiasm. Perhaps you already have a dozen half-baked, barely-compiling projects scattered around your directories. And that is OK. Even if you never finish a project, simply struggling to create it is enough to make the next time a little easier. If you start enough projects, eventually you’re bound to create something awesome that actually works well. And when that happens, you’ll be neck-deep in the tech industry already!
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