4 Options for Improving Your Programming Skills

All around the world, programming is a skill that’s in high demand.

Whether you have always been interested and are looking to turn your passion into a career, or you have the basics down and want to take your skills to the next level, opting to educate yourself in programming is a fantastic decision.

That being said, you may not know where to start.

From the best data science courses to the importance of side projects, read on for four effective options for improving your programming skills.

1. Take online IT courses

Undoubtedly, one of the best options for improving your programming skills is to opt for online IT courses. There is a wide range of benefits to learning online, including the fact that it is more flexible and you can take your time to learn things.

While there will be a large community of people who are willing to help you, the nature of online learning programs means that you will also have to do plenty of independent learning.

That being said, make sure to look for a supportive and competitive yet friendly community that can help you progress.

Through your program, you can find some mentors you can trust to review your code and peers with whom you can work on projects together. By creating a programming circle, you will be able to learn from each other and discover different ways of approaching tasks.

Throughout your online IT courses, make sure you take the time to reflect on what you are learning and any feedback you receive on your programming. For example, if somebody tells you they don’t understand your code, make sure to reflect on why that is. Use this opportunity to learn new habits that will help you become a better programmer in the long run.

2. Always be working on projects

No matter what learning style you have, you still want to ensure that you are always working on programming projects. This is essential if you are going to improve your skills as you need to be continually practicing and challenging yourself. Even if your day job is related to programming, you still should have a side project that pushes you and forces you to develop your abilities.

If you don’t have any ideas for side projects, consider joining an open-source project that you can regularly contribute to, offer to create apps for nonprofits, or agree to work on an idea with friends. There are plenty of project opportunities out there if you are open to them.

Not only will working on side projects hone your skills, but these will also help demonstrate to future employees that you have the initiative to implement your knowledge into projects independently.

Plus, it will give you something concrete to discuss during interviews. This is a surefire way to impress hiring managers with your skills and motivation because they know that passion combined with commitment goes a long way.

3. Experiment with different programs

Another excellent reason to open yourself up to working on side projects is that it will enable you to learn different programs.

In many cases, it is these additional projects that allow programmers to experiment with various frameworks. By introducing yourself to these programs, you will have more insight into the languages that you might want to specialize in.

Keep in mind that a good programmer can balance generality with specificity.

This means that you need to have excellent all-around programming skills and manage the sourcing and processing of raw data. Additionally, at some point, you need to decide which language(s) and functions you are going to become an expert in to be a competitive programmer. You need to be a master of the modules in your selected language.

Here are five commonly used languages that you may want to consider learning:

  • R: A powerful language that shines in a range of purposes, particularly statistics and data science, R is open-source and offers excellent data visualization. However, it isn’t a quick language and has several quirks. That being said, it is a prevalent language which is a proof of its effectiveness.
  • Python: Since 1991, Python has been a favorite general-purpose programming language. This is because it is easy to learn and has a comprehensive collection of purpose-built modules. This language is a reliable option for all levels of data science.
  • SQL: This language was introduced in 1974 and, since then, has grown to be a reliable option. It is beneficial to know primarily as a data processing language as it can be utilized in a wide array of applications.
  • Java: This is an extremely popular, high-performance, general-purpose language. For many people, Java is a fantastic first choice language as the skills can seamlessly integrate into other programs. Additionally, if you already know R or Python, then Java is an excellent supplementary program.
  • Julia: The program of choice for many in the finance industry, Julia was explicitly designed for numerical analysis. Its readability is a significant benefit, as are its dynamic-typing capabilities. While it isn’t as mature as other programs on this list, at the rate it is developing; you can expect it to be a significant player soon.

4. Read extensively

While it has been proven that learning to code can aid you in excelling in other subjects, being knowledgeable in different fields also helps your programming skills. Therefore, in addition to taking online classes and working on side projects, you also want to ensure that you read widely.

Of course, you want to read books about programming (The Pragmatic Programmer) and code quality (Code Complete), but you also want to read books about philosophy, history, and culture as these will widen your mind and help you think more creatively. This, in turn, will ultimately enhance your ability to come up with ground-breaking solutions.

Are you looking to develop your programming skills? What do you think are some of the best ways to do that? What is your strategy?

Let us know your thoughts and any relevant experiences in the comments below!