Top 5 Must-Learn Lessons for 20-Year-Old Aspiring Developers

You’re a fresh college graduate enthusiastic about web/app development. Or perhaps you’re just starting as a developer or programmer. Either way, this is your chance to learn from someone who’s been there and done that!

We’ve dedicated this comprehensive blog post to help you get started in the right direction. We’ll cover the five most fundamental lessons we wish we had learned earlier as developers, including but not limited to how to get better at what you’re passionate about, what languages are best for beginners, how to find jobs, etc.

If you want to become one of the most sought-after developers, these are some of the best practices you should adopt today.

1. You Become Good at What You Spend Time Working On

The first step towards becoming an expert is to spend time working on things you want to be good at. This will allow you to build your skill set and gain valuable experience. If you don’t have any idea where to begin, here are some ideas:

  • Start by building something small. It could be anything from a simple calculator app to a website. The point is to familiarize yourself with the tools and technologies you plan to use later.
  • Learn a new language. There are many excellent options available, such as Python, Ruby, Java, C#, PHP, JavaScript, Objective-C, Swift, Go, Elixir, Clojure, Scala, Kotlin, F#, Rust, Haskell, Erlang, Elm, etc. So pick one and work through its tutorials.
  • Read and write code. Read lots of books, blogs, articles, and other resources related to coding. Also, make a habit of writing code at least three times to prove that the solution is possible, then to make it work, and finally, to make it work right. If you do these three steps often, you’ll soon develop a strong foundation in programming.
  • Work one-on-one with other developers in any way you can. Join online forums, meetups, pair programming, and hackathons. Ask questions, share knowledge, and collaborate with others. You can also get involved in open-source projects, where you’ll interact, work, and get feedback from other developers and users. The reward is that you’ll improve on your mistakes. And if you’re lucky enough, you might find a personal mentor to guide you.

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

You may think it’s embarrassing to ask questions when you’re learning something new. But if you do, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration. And you might even end up getting answers from people more experienced than you.

Here are some tips to make asking questions easier:

  • Use forums.  Platforms like Stack Overflow and freeCodeCamp are excellent places to ask questions and get instant answers from experts. Just search for your question and see what comes up.
  • Join communities on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Quora, Google+, LinkedIn, GitHub, and Medium. These sites are full of helpful information and advice.
  • Find a personal mentor. Having someone more experienced to guide you whenever the need arises is one of the best ways to learn. Find a developer who has been doing this for years and ask them for guidance.

3. Learn to Manage Your Time Well

Time management is another crucial skill to master as early as possible in the development world. It can make the difference between becoming a badass programmer within a few years and getting stuck in the newbie/inexperienced pool forever. Here are some tips to help you manage your time well:

  • Set goals. Set realistic goals for yourself. Then break down each goal into smaller tasks. For example, “I want to become a better programmer.” Break down this goal into sub-goals, such as “I want to understand how to structure my programs,” “I want to learn about object orientation,” “I want to know how to use Git,” and so forth.
  • Plan ahead. Make sure you have all the tools you need before starting a project. This includes an IDE (Integrated Development Environment), a text editor, a compiler, a debugger, a version control system, and so on.
  • Keep track of your progress. Use a calendar or task manager to keep track of everything you’ve done. Write down every single thing you do, no matter how small. That way, you won’t forget anything important.

4. Work Where the Environment Matches Your Personality

Personalities are what make us unique. They determine our likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and overall outlook on life. And there’s no harm in taking advantage of those differences, even in a working environment?

For instance:

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  • If you’re deeply introverted, you may have chosen to become a developer because of how much time and freedom you’d get. So it would be unappealing to work for a company that pairs programmers three times a week.
  • On the flip side, if you value or crave collaboration, you probably enjoy being around people and interacting with them. In this case, working for a company that expects you to be a self-teacher or self-starter would not be a perfect match. 

5. Take Care of Your Health

The last lesson on our list is perhaps the most important. If you don’t care for your health, you may struggle to reach your full potential. You might think you’re too young to worry about your health but trust us on this; the earlier, the better!

Here are some things you should consider doing to improve your health:

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for maintaining good mental and physical health. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
  • Eat healthy food. A balanced diet will give you energy throughout the day. Avoid junk food and sugary drinks.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise helps you stay fit and reduces stress. Try walking, running, swimming, cycling, or any other form of aerobic activity.
  • Use proper protective/safety tools. Working on a computer all day long can be overwhelming. Protect your eyes by wearing glasses or contacts, and protect your ears using headphones. Also, wear safety goggles when working near dangerous machinery.

Bonus: Networking Is Key

Networking is also vital to success in the software industry. The more connections you make, the more opportunities you’ll have. And there’s no better time to start networking as a developer than in your 20s. It enables you to master the game early and gives you tons of experience to build up your professional network.

Here are the best strategies to network as a 20-year-old developer:

  • Join Meetups. There are many meetup groups organized on different topics. Find one that interests you and join.
  • Start a blog. Blogging can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field. So start a personal blog where you write about programming tips and tricks.
  • Attend conferences. Conferences are great places to connect with like-minded individuals who share similar passions. Attend local conferences and events.
  • Ask for advice. Ask questions from experienced developers. They can provide valuable insights into their experiences and offer guidance on career choices.

Final Remarks

No one was born a genius developer or programmer. We all had to learn these skills through practice, hard work, and dedication. And if you’re a young developer or college graduate enthusiastic about software development, now is the best time to start honing your skills to hit the ground running when you enter the workforce. Remember, it’s all about aiming to become good at what you spend time on, asking questions, embracing time management, working where you feel valued, and taking care of your health. These are five of the most critical lessons we wish we had learned earlier.

At Ndevr our team comprises passionate professionals who love building scalable web applications using modern technologies such as NodeJS, React, Docker, AWS, Kubernetes, and others. We’re also a HubSpot-certified partner, meaning we specialize in elevating companies’ technologies as they focus on their core business responsibilities.

If you want to know more about our growth-focused services, please contact us now!

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