How I Learned to Code in 8 Months

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The following is a guest post by Li Ouyang and originally appeared on her blog. Li is currently a student a The Flatiron School. You can follow her on twitter here.

When many people look at my resume, they’re often confused by my drastic career switch. They’re also confused by how much I’ve learned in the past 8 months. Considering I barely knew how to use a Mac in the beginning of this year, I’ve come a long way. I still remember being asked to “Command T” at the command line, and literally typing those words out. But if I can learn how to code, so can anyone. Here are my tips and tricks.

  1. Time. This is the number one thing you will need. It’s easy to be distracted, but if you want to learn how to code, commit yourself.

  2. Online videos. My favorites are 

    1. http://www.codeschool.com/, and Ryan Bate’s amazing Railscasts.

  3. Reading books. At the end of the day, books still have the most in depth explanation. My favorites are Eloquent Ruby and Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby. There’s a difference between hacking something together and knowing why it works.

  4. Start building. Even with little of knowledge, Rails makes it easy to start programming and learning on the way. Within 2 months of learning how to code, I met someone to build our own mood tracker app, called Floating Journey. Building something gives you the motivation and inspration to push further. It also quickly points out the holes in your knowledge.

  5. Community. Having people to learn with is like having a work out buddy. Someone is there to share your struggles and also hold you accountable. As you immerse yourself in a community, you’ll learn faster and maybe even find yourself a mentor.

  6. Blogging. Articulating my thoughts forces me to clearly think through each topic. It’s also serves as a nice reminder of all the progress I’ve made.

  7. School. This is the ultimate choice. I dedicated 3 months, 40+ hours a week to attending Flatiron School, where I learned how to code, side by side, with 18 other classmates. It took a massive amount of commitment (time and money), gave me a community, access to a teacher, and so much more. My time at Flatiron accelerated my learning process exponentially.

Happy New Year! May 2013 bring as much joy as 2012 did!

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