Ever since I was seven years old, I have always been involved with music. I was that kid in high school that was part of every single band class that was offered.
After completing two music degrees at top music schools, I relocated to Los Angeles for freelance work.
I have spent the last five years performing, composing, and teaching music all throughout Southern California.
But when COVID-19 hit, everything changed.
Schools were closed, concerts were cancelled and everyone was in lockdown.
The only thing I had left was my sheet music site. So I poured all of my energy into the business and started thinking about making some possible changes.
HTML? CSS? What's that?
I had tried in the past to look at the source code for my WordPress templates but I didn’t understand what any of it meant.
Margin? Padding? Display?
It was all very confusing.
But now that I was in lockdown, I decided it was time to learn some basic HTML and CSS.
So I signed up for an edX class and much to my surprise, I fell in love with coding.
The journey has been amazing so far and I wanted to share the three reasons why I love being a beginner programmer.
Reason No.1: There are so many resources
When I started researching programming courses, I was amazed at the shear volume of information available at my fingertips.
There are books, videos, interactive learning environments and more. The best part is that these resources are either free or very inexpensive.
Ivy league universities like Harvard and MIT offer free computer science classes for anyone who wants to learn programming.
I can’t think of any other field that offers top quality education at costs accessible to everyone.
Here are some of my favorite resources so far.
Harvard’s CS50 - Intro to Computer Science
When I first joined the edX platform, Harvard’s Introduction to Computer Science course was one of the top recommended courses. Even though the reviews were positive, I still felt like it was going to be impossible for me to complete the course.
I ignored the recommendations for about a month and started learning markup languages instead. After a few small projects with HTML and CSS, I decided it was time to start learning a programming language.
I figured I would watch a few minutes of CS50’s first lecture thinking it was going to be dry and boring.
Wow, was I wrong!
That first lecture was the most energetic video I had ever watched. I ended up watching the entire two-hour lecture.
The great thing about CS50 is that even though it is tough, they have an incredible community that is dedicated to helping you. There are so many official CS50 groups that you can join and receive help with your problem sets.
All of the members are welcoming and helpful and won’t judge you if you are completely off track with your code. I highly recommend this class if you want to get started with programming.
I don’t actually remember how I stumbled across freeCodeCamp but I am really glad that I did. I started the curriculum about a few weeks into my coding journey and I enjoyed working through the challenges.
Each challenge provided me an opportunity to experiment with the code and see the results in the editor, which was really beneficial for me. I was also really excited to be able to build the five small projects at the end of the responsive design course.
Another reason why I love this platform is that it provides me with a wealth of information on all aspects of programming. I love browsing through freeCodeCamp’s news section and YouTube channel.
These resources are extremely valuable for beginners like me. It gives me an opportunity to learn more about this industry and the latest trends in technology.
Reason No.2: People want to help beginners
When I started working through the freeCodeCamp curriculum, I joined the forum as a way to interact with other developers and maybe answer a few questions. I quickly fell in love with the forum because I was amazed at how supportive the community was.
There are so many experienced developers that are happy to lend their time and expertise in helping beginners like me. It is a safe place to learn and grow and I have never felt bad asking questions.
One of my favorite sections on the forum is called You Can Do This! I enjoy reading posts from those who went down the self taught journey and landed their first job.
There are also plenty of posts where beginner programmers are struggling with the learning process and questioning if it is for them. Reading through those posts gives me comfort that I am not alone.
Learning how to code by yourself is really stressful and frustrating at times.
Luckily, there are people behind you that will encourage you to keep going through the tough times.
Reason No.3: Making mistakes is totally fine
It can be frustrating sometimes when you are really trying hard but everything you are doing is not working.
You keep making changes in your code but nothing ends up working.
Guess what? That is totally fine.
Make all of the mistakes you want.
Making mistakes is just another opportunity to learn something new.
I remember struggling with week 4 of CS50. I started to get really discouraged and doubt my coding abilities.
But I realized that it is normal to struggle.
That process forced me to research more, experiment more and ask more questions.
These past 6 months have been crazy, fun, challenging, and exciting at the same time.
My advice for all beginners out there is to try to enjoy the learning process because it is awesome being a beginner.