Originally published on playbuzz.com
Developing software has become one of the hottest professions available today. In 2016, the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) in the United States estimated that the jobs available for software developers would grow 24 percent in the next 10 years. This rate of growth is much higher than other job segments, and the salaries for developers are reflecting this as well. In major markets, six-figure introductory offers are not uncommon even for the most junior of programmers. Although being a programmer may sound alluring financially, Panawe Batanado, senior principal software analyst at Manhattan Associates, warns that becoming a developer takes time and patience.
Batanado states that the best way to start your journey to becoming a software developer is to develop a learning mindset. Technology changes rapidly; as such, what you once knew as the best way to write a piece of software may change quickly. You must always be willing to keep pace and learn new trends. You can practice learning new things every day even before beginning coding. If you don't like reading new trends or solving new problems, a job in programming will be a long road.
The goal at this stage isn't to build anything useful per se, but to instead explore programming. If you copy and paste things off of a website without necessarily understanding what each line of code means, don't worry. If telling a computer what to do excites you, you've got an aptitude for software development.
After playing around with programming a bit, you'll want to learn basic fundamentals. Variables, functions, strings, integers, floats, if statements, and other basic programming building blocks will need to be well-understood no matter what type of programming you wind up doing. Even the simplest of apps will have variables to store state, functions to execute actions, and data structures to define the type of information in memory. Understanding what each of these essential building blocks means and how they are used in development is a crucial learning step.
Once you've learned some of the basics and picked a preferred coding language, you're now ready to write a simple application. It can be a command-line application which is just text, or it can be a graphical app that runs on your computer. No matter what you choose, pick a small project like a tip calculator and implement it from start to finish. Learn your preferred language well.
For example, if you are developing your calculator for iPhone, you'll need to know Swift fairly well. Learn how variables are defined in Swift, how variables are declared in classes, and how graphical components are connected to those variables. No matter how simple the app is, completing it is an important milestone as it means that you are a real programmer capable of using code to solve real-world problems.
After developing your first program, start to find other projects to build. These can be personal projects, open-source projects, or they can be done within a professional context. Look for new software to write. Eventually, building software will feel like second nature to you, and you'll begin to enjoy it. Make sure you track your projects and your contributions. Use a site like GitHub and contribute to open-source software there. By keeping track of these projects, you'll be able to showcase your coding skills on your resume when applying for a job.
Becoming a software developer, especially one as experienced as Panawe Batanado, requires patience and a strong willingness to learn. Pick a more straightforward language to start and learn that language well. Develop simple applications using that language, continue building more apps, and eventually make contributions to open-source software. You'll build up a repertoire of projects and code you have written that you can showcase on your resume. You can then take that experience and land your dream programming job!
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