Whether you’re just starting to learn to code, currently attending a coding bootcamp, or you're working as a software developer, it’s important to keep challenging yourself to learn more. After attending Flatiron School, working on the engineering team here, and recently starting as an instructor, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own goals for the New Year, as well as advice I can offer my students. Here are a few simple resolutions for 2017 to start the year off right and keep leveling up in your coding studies and career.
1. Write a blog post every month.
Preferably about a technical problem that you solved. This is especially important to firm up what you’re learning as a bootcamp student, but it’s important to keep it up after graduating as well. Once you land your first developer job, it’s easy to fall off the writing bandwagon, but continuing to write is great for solidifying your knowledge about a concept and establishing your voice in the developer community. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled upon a fellow Flatiron grad’s technical blog and been both amazed and enlightened.
Blog Posts That Wowed Us:
- How and When to Use Single Table Inheritance in Rails
- Deploying React + Redux to Heroku
2. Give a technical talk at a Meetup or conference.
A big part of overcoming Impostor Syndrome as a bootcamp student or a developer is learning how to speak confidently about code. Giving a technical talk may seem terrifying, but if you find the right audience and do some preparation, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised to see how much you have to share. Try starting small at a local Meetup or with a group of friends. Or if you’re feeling bold, go straight for the conference talk.
3 Conferences to Check Out in 2017:
3. Read a technical book.
And maybe start a book club! Reading blog posts while you’re trying to build something is great, but sometimes reading a book is the way to go. A well-written book can convey more theoretical concepts with illustrative examples and provide grounds for a rousing discussion of best practices with your team. The only problem with technical books is that the tutorial-driven ones can get outdated fast.
The engineering team’s technical book club here at Flatiron School has been going strong for about a year, in large part because each week, a leader prepares questions and topics for discussion, and we all talk about practical ways the concepts in that week’s readings relate to our day-to-day work.
On Our Booklist This Year:
- You Don’t Know JS (the full series) by Kyle Simpson
- Refactoring to Patterns by Joshua Kerievsky
- 99 Bottles by Sandi Metz
4. Make an open source contribution.
A lot of the software we rely on as developers is open source and has been made possible thanks to the efforts of other hard-working developers who devote their spare time to building awesome things. Why not give back by working on an open source project? A contribution can be anything from commenting on an issue, fixing a bug, or just submitting a pull request with additional tests. Getting more exposure to different codebases and racking up more commits on your GitHub profile can’t hurt either.
5. Find a mentor.
If you really want to take your technical ability to the next level, try looking for a mentor who can help you focus on growing your skill set. As a student, look to your instructors for mentorship. As a developer, a mentor could be someone more senior to you on your team, or you could look outside your company. Even a peer who can share their experience can help you set goals and formulate a strategy for achieving them.
Learning online? You can still find community in a remote classroom!
6. Just. Start. Coding.
Maybe you’re stalling on starting your first programming lesson or putting in a bootcamp application. Maybe you’re already a developer and your codebase is littered with commented out TODOs that you and your team never quite seem to get to – try tackling one in your spare time. Whatever it is that you’re putting off when it comes to code… just start!
A new year is a time for new beginnings. With these resolutions in mind, I’m ready for another great year of learning, growing, and coding, and I hope you are too!
Find out more and read Flatiron School reviews on Course Report. Try out Flatiron’s free Bootcamp Prep course at the Online Campus, or apply to the Online Web Developer and NYC Web Developer Programs.
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