Rusty Divine

Live, Love, Learn, Teach

Some Tips on How to Get Started Programming for Adults

My brother-in-law recently decided he would like to learn how to become a software developer so that he could pivot in his career, or at least use the skills he learned to make it easier to do his job. He knows I didn’t get a traditional CS education – I have a BS degree in Geology – so he wanted to know how I did it and get some advice for what he should do. I sent him an email with some tips, but wanted to also post it here for anyone else who may benefit, and because Scott’s advice on saving keystrokes is something I’d like to strive for.

My brother-in-law is going to take some courses at the community college here, which  is great. I have had a good experience hiring a software developer who completed that program. I also encouraged him to explore some resources on his own because I know if he can be exposed to topics from different perspectives it will be easier to understand and retain the ideas he encounters in class.

Below are some resources I recommended for him to look at. If you are considering whether programming is right for you, then these resources could help you explore different topic areas and decide if you like it.

If you are ready to take the next step and invest some money in your education, you would do very well by purchasing a subscription to Pluralsight.

When you are ready to start experimenting with code, you should definitely look into the 10 free websites you can get through Azure, or even setup your development environment on one of their virtual machines that might cost of few cents an hour, but that can be turned off when you aren’t using them and cost you nothing. And sign up with GitHub or Visual Studio Online.

My path out of college started with databases and spreadsheets, moved on to putting that on the web, and then to more complex line of business web applications. I always loved solving problems and especially automating processes, but one of my motivations to learn programming was the salary range I could expect after 5 years.

He had the choice between classes in Java or C#, and I told him that there were a lot more jobs in this area with C# than Java.

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