/ Learning to code

How to practice and learn outside of Codecademy

After completing a few programming courses or an entire Skill Path, you're probably wondering how to keep going. Fortunately, as Stephanie, a Software Developer from Baltimore, explains in the video below, there are several ways for you to put your coding skills to the test — even outside of our platform.

In this article, we'll provide several tips that'll help you cement the knowledge and skills you gain from our courses. From personal projects to group efforts and building a network of fellow programmers, you can continue to learn and grow outside of Codecademy.

Finally, we'll show you how to reassess your goals and continue to improve well into the future, because, as Stephanie points out, Codecademy is just the beginning:

"Codecademy is a great starting point for learning different programming languages and introducing concepts, but there's only so much you can cover in a course. A good chunk of mastering a language is learning through experience."

Solidify your coding foundation

There are many different tips, tricks, and code optimizations for every programming language. So, don't be surprised if you continue to learn things for a long while. What matters most is having a solid understanding of coding principles and concepts.

If you come across something that stumps you, whether it's in a technical interview or a project you're working on, don't get discouraged. You can break a difficult problem down into smaller pieces and use your foundational knowledge to find a solution. Stephanie also points out that there are several resources available to help you online:

"Try looking things up online or in the documentation for the language you're working in. The Codecademy forums and Stack Overflow have a lot of great questions and answers from people of all levels, and you'd be surprised what you can pick up when you go straight to the documentation."

Try your hand at daily coding challenges

Another way to keep yourself learning and growing as a programmer is to take part in daily coding challenges. Doing a small challenge each day will help you keep up with your skills, and they can also help you prepare for an upcoming job interview and keep your problem-solving skills sharp.

Not sure where to start with a daily challenge? Here are a few good ones:

Codecademy GO doesn't just give you a place to practice with daily challenges, but it also lets you review key concepts easily. Like in our courses, blogs, and community, you'll also find user stories about how people just like you learned to code, solved problems, and made inspiring career changes.

Document your notes from online courses

Another way to solidify the fundamentals of your learning is to document your notes. You can write them out by hand in a dedicated notebook, or you can create a file on your computer to house them. It depends on your learning style. Some people remember concepts better when they write them out by hand. Others will prefer to search through a digital document quickly. You could even do both!

Documenting your notes also allows you to reinforce and reabsorb the material. You'd be surprised how much you missed on your first pass. Now that you're further along in your learning journey, something that confused you earlier might become crystal clear. Or, you'll stumble upon a concept you forgot about that helps you solve a current coding problem.

Transition to working and practicing on your local machine

After finishing an online course, some learners might be hesitant to switch to coding on their local machine. One way around that is to take our course on the command line. You'll learn how to use the terminal, which allows you to run your programs on your computer.

If you're feeling even more adventurous, you can also take our Git course to aid you. You'll also need to select an editor to use on your computer. Some editors have extensions that will highlight syntax errors or point out reserved words to make development much easier. Here are a few great options to pick from:

Lastly, you'll want to set up your language of choice. Whether you're coding on MacOSX, Windows, or Linux, we'll walk you through setting up your local environment. Afterward, a good small first step is to recreate some of the projects you built in your coursework. After that, you might be ready to tackle a new project for yourself.

Practice your skills by taking on a personal project

Maybe there's a program, game, or website that you've been mulling over for a while. Well, now's the time to see if you can make it a reality. There's no time pressure for you to finish anything, and you'll want to make sure that whatever you choose is enjoyable. You'll look forward to working on this project in your spare time, and that will make it easier to practice.

One of the most common struggles of new programmers when they start building projects is getting stuck. But it's completely normal, and it frequently happens to everyone. So don't give up. Keep searching for solutions, trying different approaches, and reaching out to your network to problem-solve together. In another post, we explore some other steps you can take when you're stuck on a coding problem.

Another way to use the power of the community is to take part in open-source projects online.

"Contributing to open source projects is also a way to get more exposure to the developer community. There are a lot of great projects out there that need someone to dust off the cobwebs. You'll get to learn other people's coding styles and pick up some coding norms along the way."

As Stephanie explains in the quote above, when you work with other people with different approaches and experiences, you learn more than you would from a course or a textbook. It also prepares you for any future job as a programmer to work with people from diverse backgrounds. As a bonus, you'll even learn what your strengths are within a team.

How to find like-minded learners to continue practicing

We've already mentioned our bustling forum, where you can connect with other learners and pose your questions when you get stuck while practicing. Our Facebook Page also has plenty of members to work with and learn from. If you're yearning to connect with learners in your area, you could attend a local meetup or get-together.

Just don't forget to give yourself a break now and then. Learning to code takes time and brainpower. You'll need downtime to counteract all the learning you've done, and you may even find that you'll solve problems better with a little time away from the monitor.

Get more practice, more projects, and more guidance.

Kattie Thorndyke

Kattie Thorndyke

Kattie Thorndyke is a professional engineer who worked exclusively in motorsport and automotive engineering utilizing OpenFOAM open source CFD software to optimize full-vehicle aerodynamics.

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How to practice and learn outside of Codecademy
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