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Are you an aspiring computer programmer? Or perhaps you are a seasoned pro who is questioning their choice of career?
Wherever you are in your career path, here are some signs that you might want to switch tracks ASAP. Alternatively, you might just be in a rut -- turn that smile upside down!
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Is programming difficult?
Learning to program is much like learning anything in life. It will take persistence and practice to get to grips with it.
Something is only ever as difficult as you make it. If you don't enjoy or care about what you are learning, it may seem like a very difficult subject.
It really is a personal matter and depends on your state of mind. After all, "nothing easy is worth having" in life -- as they say.
"Computer programming languages are not easy to master, but that doesn't mean they are impossible to learn, either. Learning a computer programming language is like learning anything else—it will be easier for some people, and more difficult for others." - computersciencems.com.
How can I do well in programming?
There are many guides, hints, and tips out there on the internet or in self-help books, but doing well in programming ultimately comes down to you. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink," as the old saying goes.
To excel in anything, you will need to have a thirst for knowledge in your chosen field. You will also need to develop a lack of fear of failure.
Failure is good and is not to be feared. You will learn more from that than any of your "successes."
But, that being said, there are some other tips to help you prosper, and keep motivated, as a programmer: -
- Learn by doing.
- Grasp the fundamentals for long-term benefits.
- Code by hand.
- Ask for help.
- Seek out more online resources.
- Don't just read the sample code.
- Take breaks when debugging.
5 warning signs that you suck at programming
So, without further ado, here are 5 signs that you might suck at programming. If any of these apply to you, don't be downhearted -- just learn from your mistakes.
Or, alternatively, find another day job!
1. "Computer says no!" - You do not pay attention to the details
Computers are stupid. They are unable to get the "gist" of your intentions as a programmer.
When writing code, you need to be precise with the instructions you are giving a computer. If you don't, not only will the code you've written not work, but you will also have wasted a ton of your time.
Any commands you give a computer will be followed to the letter and will either work or not. There is no in-between.
For this reason, you must have an eye for detail! A missing comma, bracket or semi-colon will render your code illegible to a computer when it tries to run it.
This will not only crush your very soul as a programmer, but it can also waste hours trying to track down a teeny-tiny missing comma or silly typo somewhere in your reams of command lines.
When it comes to programming, the devil really is in the details.
2. You are too reliant on Stack Overflow
While Stack Overflow is a fantastic resource for any programmer, it should only be used as a reference source, not as your own personal cut-and-paste platform. If you are unable to find a solution for yourself, you will never prosper as a programmer.
That is not to say that sites like Stack Overflow should never inspire you to find the right solution for your problem, of course. It is a great place to have your peers help you out and also help out less experienced programmers yourself!
As you get more experienced as a programmer, you will develop a basic idea of what you need to do with a project. It's great to get the opinion of more experienced programmers or "guru's," but you must learn to stand on your own two feet (they are not infallible).
But in your early days, it is quite normal to think you lack the knowledge to solve a problem, or are scared to use your initiative. You may also have a fear of being wrong.
But by not letting yourself experiment and learning from your mistakes, you will never break through the wall to become the programmer you deserve to be.
Learn to fail, and fail fast! The best way to learn anything new is through trial and error.
By "taking your licks" as you fail, you will gain invaluable experience in what things work and which things do not work. Trust in yourself, believe that you can, and you will solve this problem!
3. You give up too easily
Programming is essentially the struggle to overcome a problem --well many problems. In fact, that's pretty much why computers were invented in the first place!
As a programmer, most of your time will be spent encountering and overcoming a myriad of snags and errors as you try to build something. You need to develop the tenacity to take these problems in your stride.
You may also begin to enjoy solving one problem to suddenly be faced by ten more. It really is a battle of attrition.
Facing a pile of problems can be disheartening and frustrating at times, and you must learn to understand that the main problem could be you! If something isn't working, there is only one person to blame -- the person who wrote the program or code.
The journey will be long and slow to start off with, but over time you will gain experience in ways to avoid pitfalls or identify dead-ends early on. Each problem you solve will "level up" your knowledge and depth of appreciation for your discipline(s).
Learn to love to solve problems and not give up at the first sign of one. That feeling you get when you solve a particularly stubborn error can be euphoric at times!
4. You don't get a hit of dopamine when you solve problems
On the flip-side of point 3 above, if you don't feel good when you overcome a problem, it may be a warning sign that programming is not for you. Successfully fixing bugs and other issues will become a grind if you don't 'pat yourself on the back' when you solve issues.
Like many things in life, your body usually rewards you with a dose of dopamine when you overcome a challenge. This is very similar to the feeling you get when you finally defeat that difficult boss or solve a puzzle on computer games.
You worked hard to do that, and your persistence has been rewarded -- go you!
But if you have somehow lost this feeling, or never had it in the first place, it could be a sign that programming is not for you. Without it, programming will be a constant set of chores, and you will never develop into a truly great programmer.
5. You like to rest on your laurels
And finally, this is probably one, if not, the biggest roadblock for any programmer. The world of technology is constantly changing, and if you don't enjoy learning new things (all the time), you may struggle as a programmer.
This trend will never end (unless the world does first), so you must prepare yourself for a lifetime of learning. You will never be able to get to a stage where you can safely say you know everything there is to know about programming.
You cannot afford to rest on your laurels. Successful programmers are constantly seeking out and learning new things all the time.
Not only that, they actually enjoy the process. They get a real sense of pride as they assimilate some new knowledge or way of doing something.
They are also intensely curious about their chosen discipline.
If this sounds like too much hard work, then programming might not be for you! If a lack of confidence is holding you back, take stock in what you have achieved from time to time.
Your progress might surprise you!
Also, never be too proud to ask your peers for help. Programmers simply love to help others help themselves!