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Camped out in a coffee shop.

Two years ago, I was right where you are today.

I wanted to become a professional programmer. But I had no idea how to make it happen.

I had no college degree, no previous coding experience, and I sucked at math.

And there was the nagging doubt: Can someone like me become a developer?

Well, I made it happen. I have my dream job. I’m a software developer.

I often get asked how I did it.

Here are the three vital actions I took that helped me go from a complete beginner to a software developer.

1. Build your Roadmap

The biggest mistake aspiring developers make is that they have no plan.

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When learning how to code, I kept hearing the same advice.

“Tutorials are great, but building projects is the best way to learn. Just go build stuff!”

But… how?

As a beginner, this is like hearing, “No more lessons. Just go skydive!”

When starting out, the idea of building an app from scratch is daunting. I felt overwhelmed when I tried, and I gave up. So I continued taking only coding tutorials — and my learning soon plateaued.

I was stuck.

I began to figure out how I could get to building projects, but not ones that seemed so complex that I’d lose all motivation to keep going. Eventually, I found ways to ease off my tutorial training wheels and start building my own apps. And later, when I got my first job working as a developer, people asked for my advice on learning how to code. …

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Do you remember your first day of school?

I do. I was 17 years old.

I recall clutching the navy blue backpack secured around my shoulders like a life vest. Before that day, I’d been homeschooled my entire life. I hadn’t even attended the first grade.

As a Homeschooler, I was curious about traditional school and sometimes wondered if I was “missing out.” School was a rite of passage, I’d heard people say. My neighborhood friends all went to school, and they seemed to be part of a special club. I wanted in. As a Homeschooler, I was different. …

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Screenshot from the Web Design Fundamentals course

When you’re learning to code it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the different resources out there. Where to begin? While the best way to start learning to code is to just start coding, having a program centered around completing projects that slowly builds up your skills can be helpful. I chose Udacity when learning to code because the courses focus not only on programming, but on the mindset, skills and traits of a successful web developer. I recently took the Responsive Web Design Fundamentals course and throughout this review of it, I’ve touched on these mindsets and skills that get emphasized. …


Madison Kanna

Developer @Mediavine. I blog about teaching yourself how to code.

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