Starting out in the professional development arena is pretty daunting. I am self-taught and I don’t have a degree. Broaching my first full time position was pretty scary. What would the interviewer think? I thought I knew how to develop coding skills on my own, but did I really? I wish I could have applied the knowledge I have today, back when I was interviewing for those early career positions. Here are five tips to improve your coding skills and confidence, whether it’s your first or fiftieth job position.
For additional tips on building confidence, check out this blog post about imposter syndrome.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
Don’t feel obligated to finishing your practice projects if you’ve felt you’ve learnt what you wanted to—things can get boring if your goal of learning a particular thing has already been accomplished.
2. Create a Project & Release It
Now you’ve practiced, it’s time to actually use your knowledge and create a project and share it with the world.
Is it a web site? Is it a mobile app? Is it a Ruby Gem? Seeing people use your code in the real world gives you more confidence. For my first project I built a Ruby Gem, not because I had any real use for it but because I saw it didn’t exist yet. I released it and didn’t expect anything of it. When I got a tweet thanking me for it and it was being used in a production site it gave me a great confidence boost.
3. Contribute on Github
Contributing to other Open Source projects on Github can be a great way to get additional experience and confidence. You can learn from other’s code and feedback on your commits.
Your contributions don’t even have to be in code. You can modify a wiki or update documentation. This shows you understand coding skills and can articulate how to use them!
4. Give a Talk at a Meet Up
I’ve given talks at meetups, I’ve trained in corporate settings, and released courses on Treehouse. And you know what? Every time I’ve felt a little scared and inadequate to the task. But almost every time I’ve done it and put myself out there, I’ve found that my feelings of inadequacy were unjustified. After giving the talk, even on something like “What I learned from trying out <Insert Framework/Language Here>”, I’ve found that a lot of people are less experienced. Why are they there in the first place listening to you? You’ve done something they haven’t. You’ve just become an instant expert and valuable resource to them.
5. Talk to Everyone
Finally, when you talk to people about their experiences coding you’ll soon find out that they have the same feelings of doubt and inadequacy. Just knowing you’re not alone can give you the confidence to move forward in your development career.