How to Get Out of Tutorial Purgatory As a New Developer

In today’s post I’m going to cover the topic of tutorial purgatory.

So, what is tutorial purgatory? This phenomenon of tutorial purgatory is something that I’ve observed in people through YouTube interactions meaning people who have commented on various channels and people who are self-studying and those going to classical education.

I have sort of noticed this is happening often and I want to help you guys get out of this and stop making this mistake while learning programming.

To me tutorial purgatory is someone who is stuck in this cycle of finding courses on Udemy or free code academy. I don’t even know all the different platforms that you can take course on.

But someone who is just taking course after course and months and months and they quit because they took all the courses and they didn’t become software developers.

Or they’re in that process but their motivation and effort is waning because they just don’t understand why all the tutorials, they’re taking is not leading them to where they want to go.

What’s crazy to me is that people who do this, people who take dozens and dozens of courses are actually in the right mindset to a certain degree.

This is because in your head you’re relating education meaning if you just add up all this information in your head that one day you’ll wake up and with enough courses taken, with enough books read, that you’ll just wake up and be a software developer.

Maybe you’re thinking like after 40 courses you’ll wake up and boom you are a software developer and suddenly people are banging down your door asking you to come work for them.

Clearly that’s not how you’ll become a software developer when you are going the self-taught route or when you don’t have any experience.

It takes a different strategy than just taking courses because you need to figure out when your skills are ready for you to start applying for a job. You need to figure out how to show off your skills maybe by creating a portfolio of applications.

And how is that going to show off your skills and also what type of job you are going for?

All these are really important questions that you need to answer. I’ll talk about that in a second.

The real question is, are you in tutorial purgatory?

Well, first I think it’s pretty obvious if you are watching a lot of tutorials.

That could be a first hint that you’re in tutorial purgatory but just watching tutorials alone is certainly not evidence that you’re in tutorial purgatory.

I am a big fan of the head first series of books. And I have read every single one that I could get my hands on. I read the JavaScript, HTML, CSS and c-sharp head first books before I became a developer.

They were really instrumental in helping me to get the fundamentals of each of those programming languages.

So, it doesn’t mean that you’re in purgatory if you’re taking a lot of tutorials. You may be in tutorial purgatory if you are watching a lot of tutorials and you don’t have a clear plan of where you want to go.

So, have you written down a plan, do you know where you want to go?

Obviously, when you’re first starting out you are maybe open to a lot of possibilities but have you even sort of written down a rough idea or a rough vision of what you want for an end goal.

Is it freelancing? Is that full-time work? Is it front-end or back-end?

If you haven’t done that there’s a possibility you could be just floating around and not having a clear goal of what you’re shooting at.

Have you brainstormed about your future resume or have you brainstormed about what applications you want to build?

If you haven’t even built your first portfolio application yet, that might be a sign that you’re doing too many tutorials.

If you’ve been doing this for four months and you haven’t even built your first application in a programming language, that may be a sigh that you are in tutorial purgatory and you’re just looking to keep learning through tutorials, when you actually should be building an application.

Again, these are not definite signs, they’re just sort of questions that you should ask yourself and start to think about.

Like, do I have a plan? Do I have applications in the pipeline? Am I building applications?

These are the things that are really important. If after hearing all this you take a look around you see you’re pretty much in tutorial purgatory.

Like you don’t have a plan, you haven’t built any major portfolios from applications, you don’t know where you’re going, you’re feeling directionless there is a way out.

Let’s dive into exactly what that will look like.

Create a Game Plan

The most important thing you want to do is create a game plan. What I mean by that is you want to work backwards from what your end goal is.

I know that you probably have an idea in your head of becoming a software developer.

That’s a great goal you have in mind but it needs to be as specific as possible otherwise it’s hard to work backwards from a non-specific goal.

So, do a little bit of brainstorming, figure out exactly what type of developer you want to be. Is it front-end or back-end?

Figure out what programming languages you want to learn and that way you can have a better sense of what exactly you need to cover in terms of your education.

Maybe you need to learn JavaScript or Python or some front-end frameworks. That may not be part of your education plan per se but it may be. It’s impossible to say unless you know where you’re going and what direction you’re pointed in.

Plan Your Future Resume

Once you create that vision of what you want then you should think about what your future resume will look like.

Go to the future and sort of imagine that day one when you’re going to start shooting at your resume.

What does that resume have on it?

Are you going to highlight your portfolio applications?

What programming languages are they going to display?

What skills are they going to show off? Is it your ability to write unit tests or it’s working with external integrations or even databases?

You have to think about this stuff and it doesn’t mean you have to come up with the right answers right now but you need to build some sort of loose framework that is fluid enough that you can change it.

But again, if you are not pointing in any direction meaning you don’t have even a rough outline of where you want to go then it’s hard to not just float around like a ship without a sail.

You’re just going to drift around and then go wherever the current is going to go.

So, figure out where you want to go, create a vision of where you want to go and finally figure out what you want your future resume to look like.

Once you have that, you can then figure out whether it’s appropriate to be doing a lot of tutorials.

Like, if you’re trying to learn a new programming language, that’s a great time to do a lot of tutorials. Or whether maybe you should be shifting your time to be spent more on building applications.

There’s no right answer. The only way to know whether that’s the right answer is to look at your game plan.

If you already know the basics of JavaScript and you have a future goal of having one JavaScript app that’s pretty complex, then you should be working on that.

It’s pretty simple to me! It’s really not rocket science.

It’s just, do you have a game plan, if you don’t create a game plan, figure out what you want for the future and then at all times reference that roadmap.

Use that blueprint as you go along to figure out what you need to be doing that way there’s no ambiguity. You’re never waking up in the morning and wondering what you should be doing that day.

You just look at the blueprint and from there it should guide you and give you a laser focus.

Tutorial purgatory is a real thing and I hope this article helps you get out of it because it can lead you down the wrong path and obviously make you peter out and eventually quit something real altogether.

If you really enjoy software development, I think you should continue doing it, just make sure you have a little structure in place.


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