Breaking the code: How to get ahead in programming

Programming remains one of the most promising and high-paying careers on the current job market, with the demand continuously on the rise and the supply of highly qualified professionals not being able to keep up. Choosing to become a programmer as one’s vocation is a serious step — but really good programmers are rare for a reason, and this reason is that becoming great at this demands constant work, continuous education and readiness to keep track of all the new developments in the field. Becoming a programmer is not just a matter of deciding to do so and then flowing in the stream of money for the rest of your life. It is a job that demands a lot of you — and in this article, we will cover some of the things you can do to get ahead in this field faster than you can just by working as hard as you can. You will need every bit of help you can get.

Don’t neglect your soft skills

Many prospective programmers concentrate on honing their hard skills — that is, coding per se. And while their importance cannot be overestimated, limiting yourself to just them is a mistake. Repeatedly, programmers demonstrating better interpersonal skills, likability, sense of humor, and teamwork are getting ahead of those who are better at programming but are lacking in these areas. So make sure that you don’t forget how to talk with all the code in your head, and especially that you don’t forget how to talk to non-programmers — because they will constitute the majority of your employers.

Don’t shy away from using programming help services

Most beginner programmers, especially self-taught ones, experience many problems when they first try their hand at coding. Unfortunately, programming websites and textbooks aren’t of much help when you have a specific bit of code not behaving the way it is supposed to. In such a situation, there is nobody to explain to you what to do and how to proceed further.

You probably haven’t thought about it in this way, but online programming assignment assistance services can be of great help when you need such an explanation. After all, those of them that are of the higher quality not only provide answers to problems but detailed explanations of why they are solved in this particular way, and sometimes even video tutorials.

Learn continuously

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Whether you have a formal degree in programming or have reached your current level on your own, you cannot afford to stop learning for a single day. The sheer number of programming languages currently in use is staggering, and many of them take years to achieve a meaningful degree of proficiency in them. Many are developed on an ongoing basis, and any knowledge you currently have is going to be outdated very soon. Every new language you learn opens up new possibilities for you — so if you want to become not just another programmer but a great one, you should never let yourself rest on your laurels.

Solve real-life problems

Whether you do it as a part of your work or as self-imposed tasks to improve your skills and knowledge, concentrate on solving real-life problems with programming as opposed to doing exercises from textbooks and online courses. There is no better teacher than practice, and if you want to work in this sphere, you should learn how to solve real problems faced by real people. Code as often as possible, challenge yourself, do things you’ve never done before, look for unusual solutions — and it will all add up in the course of time.

Don’t limit yourself to a single language …

Programming languages differ dramatically regarding application fields and learning more than one can significantly increase your employment opportunities. It is valuable to have a firm grounding in each particular language, but once you’ve mastered one and are confident of your ability to use it, you should start looking for another one to complement your skillset.

… But don’t spread yourself too thin

Some languages, like Python, can be mastered relatively quickly and can tempt you to consider them learned and to move on to greener pastures. However, it is important not just to learn but to retain this knowledge, and many languages take years to learn all their intricacies, and even after that, you will continue to find something new in them. A breadth of experience is important, but it is no less crucial to obtain a specialization and maintain it.

Become a part of open source community

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Constant interaction with programming community is one of the best practices to ensure never-ending professional growth, and one of the best ways to do so is to participate in an open source community, both by contributing to it and taking from it for your own purposes. Listen to what other professionals say about your work and take notice of constructive criticism. However, make sure you are really passionate about what you do, or it will be immediately obvious that all your attempts to be a part of the programming community are artificial.

Study other people’s code

This is one of the most important things you have to do as a coder. Beyond the most basic level, every programmer has his own style and approach to different sorts of problems, and you have a lot to learn from others. When reading somebody else’s code, check it out for useful tricks to learn, ask yourself how you would have solved this problem, how this piece of code can be improved, try to write your own code imitating the author’s style — applications are numberless as long as you are eager to learn.

Being a programmer is a dynamic, constantly evolving life situation. You cannot afford to let your knowledge stay stagnant, and you have to invest a lot of time and energy into becoming one and maintaining your position. But all this doesn’t diminish the fact that it is one of the most challenging, fascinating, and rewarding vocations out there.

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