What do a business major, two mathematicians, a college dropout who loves to teach, a data scientist, a language buff, and a designer all have in common?
They are all developers!
The aforementioned characters joined us this past Tuesday at AKQA in Atlanta to teach us How to Become a Developer. We told you it was coming, and you’ve undoubtedly been waiting with bated breath to learn the answer. Read on for their tips!To a person, every developer on the panel stressed the importance of writing code. Just get started, they said, because the first step to writing good code is writing bad code. Get in over your head, and find a community to help you figure it out.
Part of the beauty of our approach at The Iron Yard is that we hit on all of those high points. From day one, students are thrown into the deep end: they’re building apps, using the command line, learning a text editor, pushing code to GitHub. But they’re never alone. They have each other, the instructor, the TA…and even when everyone has gone home for the day, many people hang out in our class-wide chat room and have been known to answer questions at midnight!
Through a group project last week, our students also began learning the importance of communication, another point that our panelists stressed. Whether you’re working with a group remotely or sitting right next to each other, keeping the lines of communication open is key to collaborating on software. Let go of your stereotype that a coder is some cave-dweller who lives in a basement and rarely emerges—anyone can be a developer, as our panel demonstrated! So learning to communicate with people who may approach problems differently than you is super important, and may even lead to a more elegant solution than you could have envisioned on your own!
The over-arching theme of the night was problem solving. No one type of person is best-suited to be a developer, but developers do tend to share certain characteristics: grit, curiosity, resilience. A mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it. Find something you’re passionate about and figure out a way to make it better with code! As a developer, you get to be bossy and tell your computer what to do at all times. You can change the world with a few lines of code.
Our own Shelby Switzer summed it up nicely:
Programming isn’t writing lines of code. It’s problem solving and putting small pieces into bigger pieces to make awesome things happen.
So how do you become a developer? It’s simple, sort of:
- Write code
- Mess up
- Ask for help
- Write more code
- Learn from your mistakes
- Keep writing code
- Fix some problems
- Make the world a better place
Now get coding!