Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

What NOT to do when learning to code

So last week I wrote a blog on where to start when learning to code. You can read it here.

Since then I have had a number of conversations with people that say “that’s great but I have x, y and z problem”.

I think the first thing to remember is that learning to code, like learning anything new, can be challenging at first. So my first piece of advice:

Don’t give up!

When I applied to General Assembly, I was ok passing the interview process but what really got me was the pre-work. A lot of it was new and it gave me frightful imposter syndrome to start with. This is so normal and you shouldn’t feel inferior because you can’t do something you’ve never learnt before. The thing I love most about coding is fixing something that you’ve worked ages on. That buzz just doesn’t get old and is well worth the struggle!

Now I work at BCG DV and everyone is SO SMART. Like genius level. And even the things they talk about on Slack are ! But that’s a really great environment to learn in because you are constantly Googling or asking so you can try and keep up. Struggling is actually really good in coding because that’s how you learn new things.

And everyone is super nice. Honestly, I’m yet to meet an unhelpful or nasty coder. EVERYONE has been overwhelmingly willing to help and support and offer me their time to help me improve. Always remember to ask for help — be it Google, on Stack Overflow (which if you haven’t heard of it, should be your go-to for answering code-based questions), or in person. This will go a long way to breaking down that imposter syndrome so you don’t give up.

Don’t be overambitious

I fall at this hurdle every time! Now I can code a bit I want to code a lot — often extremely complex ideas which only really work in my head! It’s fine to work on complicated ideas — great even! But it’s important to start small and build on it slowly or you will get yourself in a muddle.

Always remember to go back to basics — it’s much easier to follow the logic if you start simple. Of course feel free to build on it later! But it will be a much smaller jump if you have put the ground work in first.

This goes for learning too. Since learning to code, I want to learn everything! Post GA I have settled on getting my foundations in React BEFORE trying to learn x number of other languages. You just can’t learn it all at once — if nothing else it is super confusing! Start small and then grow.

Don’t overdo it

The best way to solve a coding problem is to stop coding.

I’ve fixed more bugs by thinking it through on the tube on my way home, than I have sat at my computer, straining to make it work. If you can’t fix it take a short break, get away from your laptop and try to clear your mind. Then go back and my bet is you will either realise what you need to be googling to find the problem, or else you will realise a really obvious mistake where you were going wrong. At the very least you will be a bit less stressed. It’s so easy to stay up all night fixing bug after bug but honestly you will achieve a lot more with a fresh sharp mind.

I’d love to chat if you have more ideas, or share them in the comments. And let me know if you have anymore questions.