Programming is an industry that’s constantly moving forward. If you’re out of the game for a few months, you’re going to fall behind the competition. It’s why programmers, more than most, must keep their skills sharp.
The only way to make sure your skills stand the test of time is to keep in touch with the latest developments in your industry. How do you do that? That's what this guide is going to answer. These are the best ways to step up your programming skills and retain your cutting edge over a long period.
1. Learn Something Unrelated to Your Line of Work
Programming is a diverse business with lots of different languages and applications. Most programmers will learn the languages they need and nothing else. That’s a mistake because having a wide range of knowledge will benefit you more than being an expert in one narrow area.
It will help you in learning new things long-term and you never know when this extra knowledge might come in handy. Consider learning a new unrelated programming language in your spare time. It will keep your mind sharp and you may need those extra skills later.
2. Adopt a Project-Based Approach
Older programmers may be used to picking up a book and learning what’s inside. A more innovative way to learn and keep your skills sharp is to adopt a project-based approach. Professional programmers may find that many of their projects are the same.
For example, if you specialize in building responsive blog themes, you’ll only learn how to build responsive blog themes. You’re not branching out or expanding your knowledge.
Services like Dash allow you to try out new projects via an incremental approach. That means you can’t move to the next stage without completing the previous lessons.
3. Watch the Experts at Work
Some programmers will look at something they don’t understand and slam their head against the wall. This is neither an efficient nor an effective way of tackling a problem or improving your skills. Unless you have a master programmer guiding you every step of the way, you may feel lost.
YouTube has become an incredible resource for programmers who want to continue to get better. There, you can watch the experts at work as they take you through tutorials. You can find teachers for practically every programming language in the world here.
4. Compete Against Others
Do you know how a professional athlete gets better? They compete against better athletes. It’s the only way they can challenge themselves. The whole point of getting better is so you can match those who’re better than you. You can compete against others using services like CodeWars.
This is not for the beginner. It’s for the expert who wants to get better. Sign up and compete against others in coding challenges. It’s an online community that’s dedicated to helping everyone get better.
5. Create a Business
Services like Vibbi got better over time with Instagram marketing. They did this through entering the real world and taking the training wheels away. You can do the same. Start your own side business, even if you already work for a programing company.
Challenge yourself by setting up in a new niche. When you’re deep in the trenches trying to satisfy clients, you’ll be shocked at what you pick up. When you’re under pressure is when you start to expand your skills.
6. The Gamification of Coding
Gamification is a system that parents are using to teach their kids how to code. It’s a system of using challenges and gaming to make coding fun. It’s not just for kids, though. Adults can take advantage of it too. Like any good learning system, learning by increments is heavily promoted.
It’s a great way to learn if you can’t stand reading a boring tutorial.
Conclusion: Consistency Is the Key
Ultimately it’s all about consistency. As mentioned at the start of this guide, you need to be consistently learning to stop your skills from falling behind. As a final tip make sure that you keep updated on the latest developments in programming. New technology could change the face of the whole business. One example was the coming of HTML5. So many programmers weren’t ready and they fell behind.
How will you improve your programming skills today?