5 things nobody tells you about programming (as a beginner)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Outline:

  • Introduction
  • The things
    • 1. You can’t and won’t learn anything
    • 2. You will only spend about 5% actually typing
    • 3. Googling to solve problems is the most valuable skill
    • 4. You don’t necessarily need a degree
    • 5. Programming and getting a job is about people and social skills
  • Closure

Introduction

We already discussed many topics on this blog and our Youtube-channel in various videos regarding the programming and web development industry and career path. We noticed that especially the videos targeted at beginners seem to get more attention which means that you probably want to see more videos specifically for beginners or people completely new to programming.

That’s why we decided to tell you 5 things nobody tells you about programming as a beginner in this post. If those kinds of beginner topics are interesting for you and you want to see more of them, please give this video a like and subscribe to our channel. But now, let’s get started!

1: You can’t and won’t learn anything

The first thing nobody tells you about programming as a beginner is that you can’t and won’t learn anything there is.

Especially amongst beginners there is the common misconception that once you learn the first programming language you will learn many more and dive into all kinds of programming topics. I know of some people, including myself, that thought they could learn anything from machine learning to game development to programming a raspberry pie and doing web design.

The reality is that it just won’t work like that. All of those topics require a whole new set of skills and knowledge which makes it really difficult if not completely impossible to learn everything there is.

In Web Development alone there are so many JavaScript frameworks and libraries out there that you won’t even have enough time to learn every single one of them. And there are new ones coming out on a daily basis as well.

If you’re working a software development job, chances are that you will only be dealing with a very limited amount of technologies, for example a web developer might only work with angular, bootstrap and node.js for years, because the application he or her is maintaining was built using these technologies.

So, a much better approach of thinking might be to accept that it is impossible to be an expert at everything in the programming world and then try to specialize on a few versatile technologies.  

There’s nothing wrong with trying out new things on a regular basis and trying to enhance your knowledge in different languages and topics, but you should accept that you won’t be able to become a master at everything.

This can be really difficult for most of us and lays the foundation for a psychological condition called imposter syndrome, but that’s a topic for a whole new video.

2: You will only spend about 5% of time actually coding

The second thing that nobody really tells you about programming as a beginner is that you will only spend about 5% of the time actually writing code.

The other 95% of time is used for problem solving. One fundamental to understand for beginners is that programming really isn’t about how much code you write in one day or how fast you can type. It is about your ability to solve problems and think logically to produce great software.

At your typical software development job, you will most likely find yourself thinking about the problems presented to you most of the time without actually writing that much code. This is very important to understand. Sometimes developers only write like 3 or 4 lines of code in a whole work day, but those days might be the most productive in the whole week.

Many beginners again have a common misconception that the more code your write the better, but like I already said, this is simply not true as the real job of a dev is not to write massive amounts of code, but to solve problems logically and effectively with as little code as possible.

3: Solving problems using Google is the most valuable skill

This brings us directly to the third point of this video. Solving problems using Google is one of the if not the most valuable skill a developer has to learn.

In programming there is an infinite amount of problems that could occur and it is impossible to memorize massive amounts of solutions, functions or patterns. While most experienced devs can solve common problems without thinking or googling too much, it is important to understand that you don’t have to memorize all of the stuff and that google really is your best friend when coding.

Like already mentioned several times, a programmers job is to solve problems and this is were it is crucial to develop solid problem solving skills. One of the most common and arguably best ways of solving problems is by utilizing google and the power of the internet.

Knowing what to search for and what answers to use is vital for your success in the software industry. It amazes me every time again when I see how some people use google compared to others.

While some people from some professions like programming are absolute beasts at googling, others really do struggle with finding basic answers to common questions online.

So, solving problems using google is a vital skill and there is no shame about using it frequently, although beginners tend to believe they have to write everything from the top of their mind.

4: You don’t necessarily need a degree

The next thing nobody tells you about programming as a beginner is that you don’t necessarily need a degree to get a high paying programming job.

In today’s times it is easier than ever to learn anything you want to learn. This means that you can also learn how to write code without attending college or university. It is a great opportunity for people looking to get into the industry, as it allows for self dictated learning at a low price.

Another aspect is that most of the stuff you learn at college won’t be particularly useful if you just want to be a software developer. Many courses teach outdated and therefore somewhat useless technologies and concepts which won’t really help you becoming a developer.

So, if you don’t have the time or the money to get a degree, don’t stress too much about it. It is possible to get a job without attending any college or university courses and learning everything by yourself and possibly even for free online.

But, and this is very important, this doesn’t mean that a degree is useless or a waste of time or anything like that. It’s quite the opposite. Studying computer science or something related to that teaches you all the fundamentals and much more. You will gain a deep level understanding of the concepts developers use on a daily basis.

It is also crucial to note that in many countries it can be quite difficult to get a good job without any kind of formal education. While it is possible it can be really challenging, if you don’t have a degree or something like that.

Therefore, please take this advice with a grain of salt, as it is never bad to have a degree that you can actually show to companies instead of some worthless udemy certificates or similar. If you’re still in school and thinking about getting a degree in computer science, then go for it. It won’t hinder your way to get a development job and after all, it probably is the safest way of getting to your goal.

But, also keep in mind that it is possible, even for people coming from completely different industries, to get a programming job without a college degree. But like I already said, it will be more difficult.

5: Programming and getting a job is about people and social skills

The last thing nobody tells you about programming as a beginner is that programming and getting an actual job as a programmer is very much about dealing with people and your social skills.

Many programmers and many more experienced developers as well, think that in order to get the job you desire, you just have to be excellent in your work. While that obviously plays a major role in getting the job another key skill you have to learn is dealing with people and improving social skills.

When you meet somebody new, the first 5 to 10 seconds already decide whether that person likes you or not. And this is also true for job interviews. If you can’t make a good impression and make the interviewer like you as a person and not only for your professional skills, chances are that you won’t land that job.

Learning about people and making them like you is a crucial skill in all areas of life. So it is definitely worth to improve your social skills.

One book that we can recommend is “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. It is a must-read for everybody looking to improve their life. As it teaches techniques about dealing with people, making them like you, and getting what you want from other people.

So , if you’re serious about improving social skills, “How to win friends and influence people” is a must read.

Again, it is important to keep in mind that your professional and technical skills are the prerequisite for getting the job you want and achieving your dreams. But your social skills are just as important, so don’t forget about them.

Closure

Those were the 5 things that nobody tells you about programming as a beginner. We hope that we shed a bit of light on the uncertainty many beginners face when trying to get into the software development career.

Do you have an addition to our list? Let us know in the comments! Also, make sure to like this video and subscribe to our channel for more videos on a weekly basis.

We’re excited to see you again next week and until then stay healthy and keep on learning.

For more tips check out this article.

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