Benefits Of Group Learning

Another week flew by and I’m still working on getting a pacman game up and running. There’s a great community of developers in Montreal, though, and they often host coding events, like the weekly coffee and code sessions I go to with Les Pitonneux. Thanks to lots of wonderful, patient people I learn a lot about web development and get closer every session to building amazing products that people will love to use. Working with other people is essential if you’re trying to learn how to code. If you’ve thought openly about learning programming, you have already been told to not do it alone. I’m not going to preach about why you need to do it, but I have some advice for when you do find a group of fellow programmers or learners.

Don’t be a perfectionist

It doesn’t matter if your header is 50px or 60px high, or what color the background is, or what font you use, or whatever. At least not at first. This goes for everybody, but especially if you are focusing on back-end development. I know a lot of people don’t have issues with this kind of stuff like I do, but I’m the type of person who very easily gets caught up with literally irrelevant details that end up consuming way too much of my time. You need to take full advantage of the time you dedicate to learning, and don’t fool yourself into thinking you did a bunch of work when all you did was choose the perfect colour scheme. That stuff will matter down the road, but it’s not worth much if you don’t even have a working app. If your goal is to be a developer, as opposed to a designer, focus on getting something that works first, then worry about customization or making it look amazing. This is especially true when you’re working with other people, which brings me to my next point.

Be grateful

People who are good at coding usually work full time. They have busy lives but a lot of them still take time to mentor and meet newbies. Once you find (or build) a community of developers and learners, don’t take it for granted. When you’re headed to a meetup where you’ll be programming with other programmers who you know are better than you, get started on a project before hand so when you’re with the group you can focus on just building and learning. Try to answer your own questions first, but after you search the docs and google if you’re still stuck, turn to someone else to get unstuck as fast as possible. Remember that people are taking time out of their lives to help you learn an invaluable skill, though, they are not there to hold your hand all the way to becoming a pro.

Don’t get religious

I’m quickly discovering that programmers can be super opinionated about things that non-programmers would never have even heard of. Most of the programmers I’ve met so far are wonderful and super polite, but every once in a while I’ll come across someone who just “has to” show me the latest or greatest thing that they “can’t believe” I have never heard of. I totally understand how experienced developers can feel this way, but this type of attitude seems especially strange on beginners. If you just started learning how to code, just focus on that, and not on preaching to other learners about why your way or what you’re learning is better. There are tons of technologies out there that are all useful for different things, and meetups always go smoother when everybody comes with a cooperative and helpful attitude. Try not to get too religious about your opinions right out of the gate.

So, go to meetups and be wonderful

Learning with other people is an amazing experience. You pick up good habits and learn little things that you probably wouldn’t have bothered to search for on your own. When you do get out and meet in a learning group, stay focused and don’t worry about fidgeting with CSS or adding special effects or something. Just focus on learning and building something end to end first, then move sideways and work on improvements and upgrades. Be wonderful so that meetups go smoothly, and have fun!