In this article I’m going to talk about the 5 reasons why you’re not going to become a programmer anytime soon.
These come from my experience of talking to a wide range of people. People who are aspiring developers and seeing patterns of behavior of things that really hold people back.
My goal in this article is to really shine light on some of the mistakes that you may be making so you can overcome them.
That way you don’t get stuck and end up taking years to figure this out. The aim is to really take it down to a matter of months if possible.
If you’re new here and you’re wondering who I am, I’m Peter Mukundi. I’m a self-taught programmer. I’m also a mentor and coach to everyday people who are aspiring developers.
I help them really get strategies to learn a skill set to a high degree as well as figure out strategies for landing that first job.
So, if you’re interested in content like that, I highly recommend checking out my blog from time to time as I share actionable tips to take your career to the next level.
With that being said let’s get right into it.
Thinking Programming is All Academic
So, the first mistake that I see people make as far as getting into programming is they really treat this as a purely academic pursuit.
Meaning they think that because the whole term computer science is thrown around that you can just treat this like chemistry or biology or physics.
With subjects like chemistry or biology, you can just get all the books on those subjects. Go through them and you’ll become a chemist or a biologist.
Or something like that. And that would a nice comforting thing to think about but unfortunately programming doesn’t quit work that way.
Learning about programming through learning resources like tutorials or books it’s a really important start.
But in order for you to become a programmer who can do something with those programming languages that you’re going to use, you have to get down the nitty-gritty of building projects.
Building things and using those programming languages.
So, don’t be the person who is going to wait 6 months before you start building something. To be honest with you, you don’t have to wait even a couple weeks before you start.
You can start coding within your first week. In other words you can download a code editor and just start hammering away.
So, don’t think you have to wait. Don’t think you have to get everything in line! And that you have to learn every single concept before you can start.
Start early, start often and get your hands dirty. And use those learning resources to help you with the things that you’re going to be doing.
The projects that you’re going to be doing.
And you’ll be in much better form. You will not be held back for months trying to learn everything before you can even start.
The second thing that I see really hold people back is perfectionism.
And by the way, I’m totally guilty of being a perfectionist.
It’s okay but the thing is, in software development perfectionism can really hold you back.
I see this a lot in people who are going to start building their portfolio. They think that their projects have to be perfect.
Like they have to rebuild Facebook or Twitter and they have to make it fully functional. They have to make the styling perfect.
Unfortunately, the reason that that can be very detrimental to your progress is because I’ve seen a lot of people who will just build projects.
They build a minimal viable product and get it completed to a pretty much satisfactory degree and then they move on to the next project.
They keep building projects and keep finishing things.
And that person is much farther along that the person who thinks that they have to have everything be perfect because that’s the only way that you can be a programmer!
So, don’t get stuck in this. The same thing comes to your study habits.
If you think you have to sit down and get a 4- or 5-hours study session in each time and it has to be perfect progress you’re going to really struggle because that’s not the truth of the matter.
At times you’re going to have study sessions where you feel like no progress is made.
Sometimes you can only sit down for an hour because you just can’t sit there and focus on figuring out like why your app isn’t working for longer than that.
So, you have to get used to having these study sessions that aren’t perfect. Where things are just stuck because that’s what life of a developer is.
Sometimes you’re just stuck and you can’t figure things out.
So, by really taking back those perfectionist tendencies as much as you can, it’s going to help you make progress over feeling like everything has to be perfect.
Fear of the Unknown
The next thing that I see that holds people back is just their fear. I started out talking about how people think this is an academic pursuit more or less.
Well, a lot of people who think that, they get this fear about building projects. So, they get really comfortable in learning. They get very comfortable with these concepts.
It’s like a warm blanket. Like ah, a new concept, epiphany here epiphany there.
But they start to build up the fear of actually opening up a code editor and typing in code. And building something because that’s uncomfortable.
And by the way, when you start building projects you get a lot of feedback that you don’t know what the hell you’re doing because you have never done it before.
And there’s no blueprint for it!
So, people get very afraid of that. And also, people get afraid of finishing projects because guess what, if you finish a project you have to go on to the next project which is going to be a little bit more challenging.
Or maybe once your next project is finished you’re going to start applying for jobs.
And if you’re fearful of that you may subconsciously be like. You know what, I actually need to work on the styling of my project more.
So, you may DELAY completing that project because you just have a fear of finishing and fear of going to the next thing.
But at the end of the day the best developers I know are those that can step outside their comfort zone.
If they don’t know a certain skill set, they don’t know a certain programming language, they know that to get that next level in their career they need to step outside their comfort zone.
Go to the very bottom, humble themselves and start from the very bottom.
And when you go outside your comfort zone consistently, that’s where you make those progress.
The next thing that really makes this process a lot longer is bouncing around. I commonly see this with programming languages.
And by week 4 or 5 it starts to get boring and you just start seeing a lot of repetition. Maybe you start building a project but it’s just not as fun when you first started.
Because when you first started everything was new. It was just so much fun. So, often you’ll just say. You know what, I’m just not having a lot of fun with this, let’s go to python or C sharp.
And you just REPEAT that process over and over again and that’s not how you’re going to learn to become a really strong developer.
To become a strong developer, you need to learn the depth of programming. And really have a strong understanding of the fundamentals.
And that doesn’t come from bouncing around. You need to really sit down and focus when thing get boring.
To be honest with you, if you want to learn any skill set you have to be the type of person who just persists when things get boring.
Most people they just can’t sit there when things get boring. They just can’t stick around and persist.
But if you can be the type of person who can persist and sit there when things get boring with whatever programming language you’re learning.
You’re going to be the type of person who learns THAT to a high degree. You’ll stand out where other people don’t.
And that’s the type of person who can get paid a lot of money or just get hired very quickly.
So, persist as long as you can. But if you’re going to decide to learn a different skill or a different programming language.
That’s totally fine.
Just make it a RATIONAL decision don’t make it an EMOTIONAL decision because you just feel like you’re a little bit bored.
Or you feel a little anxious that XYZ programming language is a new hot thing in the market.
So, persist as long as you can. Don’t bounce around. And try to stick to one thing and learn at depth of knowledge.
Poor job hunt strategy
The last thing that I’ve noticed is that people just really struggle with job hunt. A lot of people their job hunt strategy just SUCKS.
You have to consider that there’s a lot of people coming out of boot camps, colleges and a lot of self-taught developers out there.
And if you’re competing with all of them based on the traditional strategy of just getting that resume out there or having a personal website.
That’s just NOT really the road to success these days because everybody’s doing it.
And if everybody’s doing it then you’re just competing with people who are coming out of school. Who have better credentials than you?
I don’t have great credentials so I’m not going to compete with somebody who’s coming out of a good school and has a computer science background.
Instead what I would prefer to compete with them on is making myself stand out from the crowd. Making myself stand out in my online presence as somebody who’s really passionate about this.
Who is clearly NOT just a weekend tutorial watcher? Who built a few projects and they’re like just throwing something out there!
Instead what I want them to see when they view my online presence is somebody who is borderline obsessive programming.
Who loves this and is positive about this field?
For example, I make it easy for them to access my projects. I make it easy for them to find out more about who I am in my personal website.
My LinkedIn is different, it stands out. My resume is also different and stands out in some meaningful or small way.
The reason I do this is because I’m not competing with people on their level. My strength is not that I went to Harvard and got a computer science degree!
I don’t play with people in their game. I would rather focus on my strengths and try to compete with them on my strengths not on their terms.
So, you have to figure out how to stand out. And always remember that the people who are going to hire you are human beings and they want to know who you are as a human.
They’re not going to hire a piece of paper.
They want to see somebody who’s interesting and who they want to get to know more about.
So, always be thinking about that when it comes to job hunt and don’t just do what everybody else is doing.
I hope this article was helpful. These are the 5 things I’ve really thought through and seen patterns of behavior that hold people back.