An All-purpose Toolkit for Your Programming Career
In today´s world, there’s no shortage of programming resources. Think of video tutorials, books, blogs, MOOCs, DevCamp, Udemy, CodeSchool and websites such as stackexchange.com and stackoverflow.com. If you´re an aspiring coder, this might seem a little intimidating. It’s not easy to find a good starting point and get an overview of all the programming language possibilities available today. All coding resources tell you how to code, but they don´t tell you how to divide your time in actually working on code, learning new things, what to do when things get complicated or find coding work.
To fill this knowledge gap, Jordan Hudgens wrote an excellent book that answers all these questions and more called “Skill Up: A Software Developer’s Guide to Life and Career: 65 steps to becoming a better developer”. This book was published in July of this year by Packt Publishing and is available in multiple formats (I always read a PDF version). The author is the CTO and founder of DevCamp and has published multiple books on programming and computer science. Also, he developed training curriculum for Learn.co, DevCamp and AppDev. In other words, someone with lots of coding, writing and teaching experience.
And it shows. This is by far one of the best books I´ve read this year as it answers many questions that coders of all sorts might have. The book counts 65 chapters and is divided into three parts. First, he targets people starting out in a coding career and addresses the common pitfalls for this group. Second, the book covers freelancer skills that will be of great help for freelancing coders to find new clients. Third, he offers advice for having a successful career as a developer and advance in your career.
For one thing, the book teaches you how valuable time is and how to use it wisely. If you´re a freelancer, you know that apart from doing your work, blogging and networking you have to actively look for new clients all the time, which is a job in itself. Hudgens explains how he became a succesfull freelancer by delegating tasks to a Virtual Assistent when he found out his current strategy was failing.
Another big insights I gained from reading this book is that it´s easy to get lost in a coding challenge and give up. This also counts for picking the right programming language or framework at the right moment and how to set new challenges for yourself to grow as a programmer. Hudges uses examples from scientific research throughout the text to show that many coders deal with issues found in other disciplines as well, for example sports. For example, he writes how his note taking and study habits in university were not very productive. A change in his approach after asking advice did change his results for the better. Sometimes a different approach is needed in coding as well.
One last word about the structure and writing of this book, which are both excellent. Hudges is an excellent writer who knows how to get his message across and write great phrases that resonate with the reader. Most chapters are very short (mostly between 3–5 pages), like short essays. But they contain a wealth of information and resources that will benefit your coding career greatly. A truly great resource for everyone interested in coding or already working in a coding job.