6 Small Wins To Celebrate On Your Journey To Becoming A Professional Developer


When you set a big goal, how often do you celebrate your progress?

Sometimes, we get so caught up in advancing to the next step that we forget to appreciate how far we’ve come. But it’s important to remember that, with each line of code, you’re that much closer to your end goal — whether it’s building the next global software company or launching a new career.

So, to help remind you of your progress, here are a few milestones to celebrate as you learn to code.

1. Writing your first line of code

Your first lines of code are your introduction to the world of programming.

This may not seem like a cause for celebration, but it is! “Hello World,” which you’ll code in the first lesson of Learn HTML, is many a developer’s first step, and you’re following a path tread by thousands. Millions, even.

And, if you haven’t already taken this step, it’s easier than you think. Here’s an example:

  <h1>Hello World</h1>
  <p>This paragraph is a child of the body element</p>
    <p>This paragraph is a child of the div element and a grandchild of the body element</p>

Once rendered, the code above will generate a page that looks like this:

Rendered "Hello World" example

See? It’s that simple. Welcome to programming.

2. Completing your first course

Continuing with our Learn HTML example, by the end of the section on elements and structure, you’ll have written code that looks something like this:

  <h1>The Brown Bear</h1>
  <div id="introduction">
    <h2>About Brown Bears</h2>
    <p>The brown bear (<em>Ursus arctos</em>) is native to parts of northern Eurasia and North America. Its conservation status is currently <strong>Least Concern</strong>.<br /><br /> There are many subspecies within the brown bear species, including the Atlas bear and the Himalayan brown bear.</p>
      <li>Nelsoni (extinct)</li>
    <p>Brown bears are not always completely brown. Some can be reddish or yellowish. They have very large, curved claws and huge paws. Male brown bears are often 30% larger than female brown bears. They can range from 5 feet to 9 feet from head to toe.</p>
  <div id="habitat">
    <h3>Countries with Large Brown Bear Populations</h3>
      <li>United States</li>
    <h3>Countries with Small Brown Bear Populations</h3>
    <p>Some countries with smaller brown bear populations include Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Finland, France, Greece, India, Japan, Nepal, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.</p>
  <div id="media">
    <img src="https://content.codecademy.com/courses/web-101/web101-image_brownbear.jpg" alt = "A Brown Bear"/>

In other words, you’ll have created your very first web page!

Rendered example of an HTML web page

The best part about this milestone is that it helps eliminate the stigma many people hold about programming. No longer does it seem foreign or inaccessible. In fact, it’s just like learning any other language — except instead of communicating with other people, you’re communicating with a computer.

3. Building your first project

Your first project marks a transformation in your development. You go in as a coding newbie, and you come out as a full-fledged developer.

Some people might disagree, believing that there’s a set of requirements you have to fulfill before meeting the criteria, but Codecademy Software Engineer Zeb Girouard explains that the only real criterion is actively applying your skills:

“It’s the doing of some task that makes one a developer, engineer, salesperson, etc. — not some preconceived set of boxes to tick. Have you made, or are you currently making things, with software? If so, you’re a developer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Giacomo S., a Team Lead from London, explains that there’s also a sense of accomplishment that comes with completing your first project.

“The first project you architect is like your creature,” Giacomo says. “You like to see it grow much like it is your child.”

Codecademy Curriculum Developer Alisha Grama was particularly satisfied after building her first project — an AI designed to play Nine Board Tic-Tac-Toe.

“I was so excited,” she says. “ I played against it so many times — checking for bugs — and I could never beat it, which was also fun. I felt very accomplished every time I got a ‘draw.'”

4. Diversifying your programming knowledge

As you master your first programming language, you’ll soon start looking for others to add to your tech stack. This is a significant milestone because learning different languages and programming styles (e.g., functional and object-oriented) will provide you with multiple approaches to apply to future projects.

Mariel Frank, Codecademy Senior Curriculum Developer, helps illustrate this by sharing her experience with different programming languages.

Ruby was built with the intention of making the coding experience a happy one,” Mariel explains. “It’s extremely flexible — there are many ways to code something ‘correctly’ in Ruby — and you’ll hear many a Rails programmer talk about its ‘magic.'”

C++,” she continues, “gives you a bit more context of how things like memory and data types work. It’s older, strongly typed, and you have control over memory in a way that you don’t with many high-level languages.”

Lastly, Mariel describes Python as “opinionated and clear,” sharing this xkcd comic, which “sums up nicely the experience of learning it when you’ve already learned other languages.”

5. Sharing your work with others

There’ll come a time when you’ll want to put your coding skills on display.

Maybe you’re building a portfolio to find a new job. Or, you might be stuck on a coding problem and need help from someone with more expertise. Either way, this is your opportunity to share your unique creations with the world.

If you haven’t already, upload some of your projects to sites like GitHub. Better yet, copy them into workspaces and share the links with your friends.

6. Teaching other developers

As you explore tech communities like the Codecademy Forums and Stack Overflow, you’ll find opportunities to share your knowledge. For instance, you might come across someone who’s struggling with a problem you faced in your coursework. Or, you might have a helpful code snippet that’s just what another developer needs to complete their project.

As we progress, we tend to forget about the challenges and obstacles we faced early on in our journeys. Helping other programmers learn the skills you’ve already mastered will really illustrate just how far you’ve come along in your development.

Plus, breaking down complex concepts and explaining them to others helps reinforce your own knowledge. Take it from Judah Anthony, Codecademy Engineering Manager, who offers this advice:

“Learn by teaching. Pick a topic, whether it’s a new tech you want to push or a best practice like API design. Create a blog post, lightning talk, or brown bag to teach about that topic, and use that as an opportunity to learn, study, and research the latest on the topic yourself.”

Note that the milestones listed above are only the tip of the iceberg! Take a look through our forums and Discord to find hundreds of other learners sharing their accomplishments, big and small.

What milestones have you celebrated recently? Which stick out the most in your memory? Share them in a comment below.

Code Foundations Courses & Tutorials | Codecademy
Interested in learning how to code, but unsure where to start? Our Code Foundations domain provides an overview of the main applications of programming and teaches important concepts that you’ll find in every programming language. This content will prepare you to chart a course to a more technical c…

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