5 Excellent Ways to Improve Your Coding Confidence

codingconfidence

Starting out in the professional development arena is pretty daunting. I’m self taught and I don’t have a degree. Broaching my first full time position was pretty scary. What would the interviewer think? Am I ready? The truth is I was, but I wish I knew what I knew now because I’d be more confident. Here are five tips to improve your coding confidence, whether it’s your first or fiftieth job position.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Firstly you need to build your own confidence in your own abilities. You can only go so far following along with tutorials online. You need to build something of your own. In many professional settings you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but it can be helpful for a learning exercise. Build your own blog in PHP, build a JavaScript plugin, get a feel for how these things work, so you’ll have the confidence using pre-packaged applications and plugins in your job. Fail fast and often.

Don’t feel obligated to finishing your practice projects either if you’ve felt you’ve learnt what you wanted to, things can get boring if your goal of learning a particular thing has already been accomplished.

2. Create a Project & Release It

Now you’ve practiced, it’s time to actually use your knowledge and create a project and share it with the world.

Is it a web site? Is it a mobile app? Is it a Ruby Gem? Seeing people use your code in the real world gives you more confidence. For my first project I built a Ruby Gem, not because I had any real use for it but because I saw it didn’t exist yet. I released it and didn’t expect anything of it. When I got a tweet thanking me for it and it was being used in a production site it gave me a great confidence boost.

3. Contribute on Github

Contributing to other Open Source projects on Github can be a great way to get additional experience and confidence. You can learn from other’s code and feedback on your commits.

Your contributions don’t even have to be in code. You can modify a wiki or update documentation. This shows you understand the code and can articulate how to use it!

4. Give a Talk at a Meet Up

I’ve given talks at meet ups, I’ve trained in corporate settings, and released courses on Treehouse. And you know what? Every time I’ve felt a little scared and inadequate to the task. But almost every time I’ve done it and put myself out there, I’ve found that my feelings of inadequacy were unjustified. After giving the talk, even on something like “What I learned from trying out <Insert Framework/Language Here>”, I’ve found that a lot of people are less experienced. Why are they there in the first place listening to you? You’ve done something they haven’t. You’ve just become an instant expert and valuable resource to them.

5. Talk to Everyone

Finally, when you talk to people about their experiences coding you’ll soon find out that they have the same feelings of doubt and inadequacy. Just knowing you’re not alone can give you the confidence to move forward in your development career.

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Andrew Chalkley

I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien, I'm an Englishman in Portland. All of my professional life I've worked with computers online. I'm a polyglot programmer and like using the right tools for the job. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my young family and when I get chance, sticking opponents in Halo 4. You can find me in most places @chalkers.

Comments

20 comments on “5 Excellent Ways to Improve Your Coding Confidence

  1. Good tips! But what if that person isn’t me…but someone whom I’m collaborating with? How do you motivate your team that comprises of web designers and developers?

  2. I literally just had this feeling yesterday! I had my first real interview for a web position. Honestly, I don’t think I’m ready for it (not being pessimistic here). It did give me some helpful insights on what I need to work on so I can get the next job though. That experience along with this article have been great tools for showing me what I need to do to feel more “job ready”. Thanks Andrew.

    • The fear of rejection can be debilitating. I’m glad you put yourself out there. It helps diminish fear and helps you focus on what you need to do!

  3. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thanks a lot

  4. These are really great tips. I am also self taught, thanks to Dr. Google, and creating my own projects and fully commiting to them allowed me to learn a lot really fast. I guess you can say i already had a lot of confidence to begin with since i started my web design business when my skills where in their infancy, but it was the commitment to my paying clients that motivated me to give more and allowed me really push myself. After all, who wants to be a shitty designer/programmer, right?

  5. Correct. I’ve done my project with release before I practiced – that was not the best idea cause of security issues. OK, that was in the early 2000th … My not-ended projects are about 10, that is stuff from ideas for database structures to nearly ended. When something runs It’s good – who likes bug fixing. But my problem to release a great open source project is to keep it small enough. Maybe it works when I’m a pensioner.

    Practice, talking and contributing is great, but reading books may also improve (I heard about it ;-) ).