Instead of hyper-focusing on learning a specific programming language, you can also learn to problem solve in a way that a computer will understand. In other words, improve your skills at concepts like pattern recognition, algorithms, and abstractions. There’s also lingo, like loops, which are bound to pop up in any language you use. The better you understand these principles, the easier it will be to learn the next language (and design better products or projects as a result).
Founded in 2012, Coursera has grown into a major for-profit educational-technology company that has offered more than 1,000 courses from 119 institutions. While you can pay for certain programs to receive a certificate, there are a number of free introductory programming courses in various specializations from universities such as the University of Washington, Stanford, the University of Toronto and Vanderbilt.
No matter how many certificates and coding workshops you complete, or how many programming languages you learn, the proof of your coding skills will be in your programming project. While your personal project doesn’t have to be as ambitious as creating the next Google Maps, it should be something you’d want to work on 24/7 to constantly improve and expand its scope.
The programming community is full of people who are willing to help the next generation of programmers. GitHub, the online hangout for developers who use Git to manage their coding projects, is designed for online collaboration. Not only do developers host and share their projects with their peers, they also provide code feedback and general advice to the community.
Take a few minutes (or a day) to think about the reasons—the real reasons—why you want to learn a programming language. Be honest with yourself. Are you trying to learn the barest minimum to score a promotion? Are you looking to make a big career change? Do you want to create the next greatest app? Thrill your roommates by programming your various smart devices to do something awesome?
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