10 Ways to Become a Better Programmer in Your Spare Time
Whether you’re already an experienced programmer or have just started your journey on the way to becoming proficient in your first programming language, chances are there are still plenty of steps you can take to get become a better coder all around.
With so many disciplines to become knowledgeable in, there’s really no valid excuse for stagnating in your advancement as a web professional these days, especially considering how many educational courses and options there are available online. With that said, if you’ve been looking for ways to spice up your resume and grow into a more well-rounded programmer overall, here are 10 tips you can use to achieve that goal.
Complete an SQL Training Course
If you’re not already experienced in using SQL databases, now is the time to go ahead and put that specialization under your belt. You don’t want to be competing in a market with other programmers when you’re not even capable of managing an SQL database.
While not all coders have this ability, you’re certainly putting yourself in a relatively obsolete class by not having a familiarity with SQL whatsoever. Thus, even if you just sign up for an introductory course, it’s best to have some sort of knowledge in this area. If you’re wanting to become somewhat of an expert as quickly as possible, search and compare different SQL training courses here.
Stop Being Complacent
This might seem like a broad sweeping statement and an overly generalized suggestion, but complacency is, in fact, the number one problem that causes programmers to stagnate in their career.
It’s understandable that you might feel inclined to rest on your laurels after you’ve put forth a valiant effort in learning your first one or two programming languages, as completing your first course can be quite the challenge. However, it’s important to keep reminding yourself that there’s so much more to learn and there are still many more ways to expand your skill set.
Revise and Improve Your Old Code
If you’ve already created a few programming projects, or you have an extensive catalogue of work that you’ve done, chances are there is some code in your library that could be optimized or adjusted.
This is a great way to practice and find creative ways of solving problems or adding efficiency to code. This is another hobby that separates the great from the good because the average programmer won’t take the time to mess with a line of code that is already functioning properly – even if something isn’t broken, you can learn a lot by finding ways to make it better.
Make Ongoing Optimization a Priority
Just as reviewing your old code can work wonders to expand your innovative coding abilities, you should also be spending some of your free time thinking about ways to improve any current coding projects that you’re working on.
The difference between the tiny projects that you’ve never heard of and the hugely successful software titles that become corporations is that behemoths like Microsoft dedicate entire teams to continually optimizing code. The fastest way to get better as a programmer is to keep reminding yourself that there’s always more work to be done.
Start Creating Three Versions of Every Code
So, you’ve just landed a project and you’re in a rush to get the job done so that the client will be satisfied. That’s certainly a justifiable reason for being in a rush to create one code that works and keep it moving, but you could benefit greatly by approaching each project with a more thorough approach.
A great programmer will usually start with three versions of the same code: one initial script that serves as a proof of concept to show yourself and the client that it’s possible, another script to fulfil the job requirements, and then a third script (which you could work on in your spare time) to further optimize the code.
Think of Ways to Follow Up with and Impress Clients
When you’re done with a project, it’s easy to fall into the temptation of instantly moving onto the next money grab you can find. That may seem like the fastest way to get revenue coming in, but in reality, your best bet is to start by impressing upon existing or previous clients.
Look for ways to add value to existing and previous projects to convince your client base to keep working with you. This gives you two advantages – you gain more experience by tinkering with the code again, and you’ll have an even better version of the code to send to the client as a surprise bonus update, which usually creates a great impression and leads to future business.
Spend Time Reading Code
Most people know that one of the best ways to become a better writer is to read lots of books. Likewise, spending your spare time reading lots of code will help you get better at quickly identifying and interpreting syntax within large bodies of text. A true master programmer can look at the code, tell you exactly what it does and how it works.
To reach that level, you’ll need to be spending quite a bit of time looking at the code, even beyond what you would normally be doing for work or training purposes.
Work on Hobby Projects
As a talented programmer, it can be easy to find yourself caught up working for clients only. When that happens, you’ll be making plenty of money, but you might not be progressing as fast as you could be as a programmer. When you’re constantly working at the same proficiency and not focusing on expanding your knowledge, you wind up getting stuck at a certain skill level. An easy way to make sure you’re always advancing is to work on challenging hobby projects on the side.
Collaborate with Better Programmers
Having someone to show you the ropes first-hand and answer your questions directly is one of the best ways to quickly gain proficiency in a new programming language. Plus, you’ll have a more experienced partner to help shoulder the weight on your first couple of projects in case you run into problems that you don’t know how to solve yet.
Focus on Tactics Instead of Tools
Nowadays there are so many software tools that can simplify the process of programming. In fact, even people without any coding knowledge whatsoever can put together basic scripts using automation recording programs. Instead of looking for the easiest way to get a job done, try to minimize your reliance on user-friendly tools and do things the old-fashioned way when you have the time. This will give you a much more in-depth understanding of what you’re doing.
Specializing in Multiple Programming Languages Makes You an Elite Job Candidate
Any programmer who can prove that they have extensive experience or expertise in developing code within the confines of multiple programming languages will have a much easier time being hired for a new job or landing clients and projects on freelancing sites. Hiring managers and other entrepreneurs can easily recognize the value in having a team member who is capable of reading, coding, and troubleshooting within several of the major coding languages. Thus, it makes sense to focus on becoming a multi-faceted programmer by heeding the tips above to set yourself up for a lucrative and productive career.
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