Shaping the Future: A Guide to Getting Involved With Programming

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By Jose Sanchez - Guide

March 4th, 2021 at 1:00 P.M. EST.  

 

It’s undeniable that technology is changing the world. Most of the exhausting manual jobs are being replaced by computers. Technology will affect many jobs. For example, accounting. Automatization is not replacing accountants, but it is still a potential threat. The responsibilities of an accountant include, but are not limited to, preparing financial reports and forecasting financial risks for a company. Without a doubt, this job requires an extensive amount of data processing which translates into a person spending numerous hours working on a single report. However, a computer program can duplicate the productivity of a person. With adequate parameters, a computer can work nonstop organizing and writing reports. In the future, accountants would be expected to work with codes that simplify their job. Nevertheless, programming won’t just affect accounting. In fact, several companies favor applicants with experience in programming — even though the applicant may not be a computer-related professional.

Now, you may be wondering, “How can I learn to code by myself?” I’m glad to tell you that anyone — provided this person is motivated enough — can quickly learn to code: it is only a matter of practice. However, some tips may be helpful in your path to becoming a programmer. So allow this humble computer science student to show you how you can start coding. Before we begin, let me remind you that you have chosen a path that demands patience and motivation to never give up despite the challenges along the way.

 

1. Choose a Computer Language That Aligns with Your Goals

 

The first and foremost step is to choose which language to learn. Python is an appropriate first pick due to the simplicity of its syntax. Some people even say that reading a Python code is like reading English. Nevertheless, there are no wrong answers when it comes to choosing a computer language. Still, it is advisable to have a plan of what you want to do. If you want to design web pages, use JavaScript. If you would rather create desktop applications, go for C++. Or if you’re going to analyze data and graphs, use R or MatLab. Every computer language has its distinct syntax and characteristics, so keep your goal in mind and pick the language that best suits your needs. Either way, if you still don’t know what you want to do, Python is considered the jack-of-all-trades in the coding community.  

2. Dive into the Fundamentals of Coding

 

Now it’s time to get your feet wet: let’s learn some syntax! It may be troublesome, but it is mandatory in order to create any project. Start by getting to know the principles of a function and what a variable is. Then you can study what if-conditionals and loops are. And, if you want to go even more in-depth, take a look at classes and objects. Once you have a basic understanding of how the language you chose works, start playing around with the syntax. You can print text like “Hello World” or create a small calculator if you like. Though, if you’re still struggling to understand the syntax, there are websites such as Codecademy and Freecodecamp that offer interactive coding sessions. These websites were built with the understanding that many beginners get stuck when learning to code while setting up the development environment. They also offer online text editors and compilers to begin coding instantly.

 

Suppose you are a person who likes a detailed study with step-by-step guidance. In that case, I recommend watching any free online programming tutorials for your language that teach you the basic concepts of syntax and how to install the required work environment. Some tutorials and courses also offer certifications that could help you later when you look for a job; if this is more your style, check the websites Udemy and Udacity.

 

3. Set Your Eyes on a Project 

Whether it comes to studying or coding, you must do what interests you the most. Involving in an area that you’re passionate about keeps you engaged until you finish your project. If you choose to work on something that doesn’t motivate you enough, you may abandon the project before it’s finished. If you like photography, you might want to build up your portfolio website showcasing your work, or if you are interested in trading, you might design an app or website to analyze your stock charts.

 

Keep in mind that you should work on small projects and then move on to larger ones. A good place to start is creating games like number guessing and tic-tac-toe. Once you are comfortable with your skills, try tackling more challenging projects like a music player or your take on Tetris. Here you can find the link to some cool projects: Tetris in C++ and Rock, Papers, Scissors in Python. Just remember to push yourself and don’t give up when facing errors in your code.

 

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Some Pesky Bugs

 

At some point, you may get frustrated with coding. I know, bugs sometimes seem to appear out of nowhere. But don’t despair; most programmers spend their time fixing bugs rather than writing functional code lines. To help alleviate stress, you can do the following:

 

  • Learn how to Google the error: Searching the error of your code would help you correct your code within a few minutes but, on the other hand, if you are not proficient at this skill, it may be like driving in a new city without using GPS. A tip that I would like to share here is to put the error generated by your compiler in double-quotes (“ ”) before searching on Google. This way, Google will specifically target the error as the same sentence, giving a much more accurate, filtered result.

 

  • Use popular coding websites to guide you: Websites like Stack-Overflow and Reddit top the charts here to guide developers around the world with their code. They are full-fledged communities of developers from all fortes who help each other with their projects. You can post questions regarding your code, but surely someone else experienced the same error and already has the solution posted.

 

5. Practice, Practice, and More Practice!

 

Learning to code is like learning a new language; to master it, you need constant practice. You can always start a new project, but there are some websites for competitive programming if you are ready for the big leagues. HackerRank specializes in coding challenges for veterans. Don’t worry; there are problems for beginners too. This website also provides certificates that may add more weight to your resume.

 

Remember, coding is for everybody. Let your imagination run wild. All great projects started from small ideas. Whether you want to specialize in computers or add programming to your skill set, be sure that we are all problem solvers by nature. So go ahead: start programming — be part of the future!

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Jose Sanchez

Jose Sanchez is a Computer Science major at Miami Dade College Eduardo J. Padron Campus Honors College. As the treasurer of Sigma Zeta National Science & Mathematics Honor Society, Jose invites the community to learn more about the importance of mathematics and programming. Yet, he also shares a profound love for poetry and music. When Jose is not coding or exploring the implementation of robotics in our society, he likes to spend time writing poetry and playing guitar. Being a new editor and writer for Urbana Literary & Arts magazine volume XIV, Jose aspires to share his voice and stories to Urbana's audience.