by Michael Henderson

Practice, set goals, and take advantage of all the coding resources out there

Are you taking advantage of Free Code Camp and other resources enough to become a successful developer? That’s the question.

Have you been working through Free Code Camp challenges until your fingers bleed, hoping to harness and hone your skills enough to land a developer job?

I have worked through Free Code Camp challenges and spent many sleepless nights banging my head against the keyboard, one time the word “QWERTY” was imprinted on my forehead for two days straight — well, at least it wasn’t the word “LOSER”. Point being — I didn’t give up.

Today, I am going to show you how to get the most out of Free Code Camp by practicing your challenges, setting goals in a timely manner, and taking advantage of resources.

Practice Your Challenges

When you are on the journey of working through the challenges it’s easy to focus on the Front End Developer Certificate and sometimes not so easy to focus on the challenge at hand.

Not focusing and not teaching myself to slow down is the biggest mistake I made when working through challenges. I was so focused on getting to that next level, becoming a developer, and coding for nonprofits, that I overloaded my brain with a lot of content in a short amount of time.

When completing a challenge, it’s easy to go on to the next, then the next, and then the next one after that. Try to stop after each challenge and practice what you have learned.

Let’s say you are working on one of the JavaScript challenges that requires you to split, reverse, then join a string. When you complete that challenge, go to CodePen, create a new pen, and practice.

Take at least 10 minutes to sit there and split, reverse, and join strings using JavaScript. Add HTML to it if you would like, try different things with it and once you are comfortable and can successfully do this in your sleep, move to the next challenge!

Trust me, doing a lot of challenges in a short amount of time gets you through the map faster but hurts you in the long run if you do not know the content.

Slow down, take your time and simply practice. You can keep CodePen open in a tab and use it to practice all of your challenges as you work through them. If you don’t know how to add JavaScript or other resources to CodePen, I have an article explaining how to do that, after you read mine, check this article out, it's more advanced.

Setting Goals In a Timely Manner

I can’t stress enough how important it is to set weekly goals in a realistic and timely manner that corresponds to your schedule. If you are super busy, don’t set a goal to code for 40 hours a week, because that is unrealistic and will most likely cause you to fail at reaching your goal.

For example, I go to work and school, and on my calendar I have a goal of eight hours a week that I try to dedicate to coding and learning to code. I break up those eight hours like so: I spend two hours every day, for four days out of the week focusing, practicing and working challenges.

Two hours may not seem like a lot of time, but you’d be surprised how much you can learn when you do this consistently. Honestly, one of the most important skills I have gained throughout my time as a developer is having the willpower of knowing when to stop, clear my mind, and rejuvenate. That’s one of the key essentials to being successful with any project or task.

This keeps me from overworking my brain by taking in too much content at once. Everyone is different but there is such a thing as learning something efficiently. You have to find an efficient time frame that jives with your brain and make it happen.

Take Advantage of Resources

Use the various coding resources out there, and jump into discussions. You will be surprised how much you learn by watching other individuals converse.

There are so many forums, courses, videos, and all around good people on the internet who are willing to help. It’s just a matter of exploring the internet and communicating with others. It’s not hard to do — all it takes is a couple of mouse clicks, keystrokes, and you’re there talking code with people.

Just as there are other sites that function similar to CodePen where you can instantly have a “Code Playground” in your browser, there are other sites that are similar to Free Code Camp that also teach coding and house a lot of information.

Do not limit yourself. I don’t believe you should do that with anything in life, and especially don’t do it when it comes to coding resources. You can learn so much by asking questions on StackOverflow, communicating with other Campers on the Free Code Camp Forum, learning content on Coursera, watching videos on YouTube, and reading information on Tutorials Point.

Still with Me?

In closing, my goal here was to inform and motivate you. If only one of you found this article helpful it will be a success to me. Keep up the good work, practice your challenges, set goals and take advantage of all the coding resources that are out there. If you keep it up, you will become the developer you have always wanted to be.