Loops, lists, sorting… What’s next?

Most of the programming tutorials aimed at beginners emphasize learning fundamental code instructions like ‘for’ or ‘if’, enabling writing basic programs and algorithms. While it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the nuances of your favorite programming language with such tutorials’ help, it won’t be necessary to go through essential programming rules every time you try to expand your technical knowledge.  

Once you know how to code, it may be handy to learn how to use it in practice. Usually, programming it’s way more complicated than just using loops and conditionals. Even knowing the most complex algorithms and every detail of a language syntax may not be sufficient to create an understandable, flexible, and maintainable system. For example, developing an elaborate system often requires being familiar with different designs and architectural patterns. As it is easy to find the theory in many books about software engineering, applying it can pose a considerable problem, especially for newbies. 

Fortunately, you can always seek help from those who already gained the knowledge. One of the easiest ways to learn best practices is to find a job in a junior-level position. For many companies, having basic programming skills and a positive attitude make you an eligible candidate. Just remember about self-development and apply for offers in fields you find interesting and where you can learn the most. Collaborating with more experienced professionals can be beneficial for you, don’t be afraid to ask for help or an explanation. You would have a chance to do something practical under expert guidance. Furthermore, their code reviews would help you to polish your programming skills. The salary is just another profit :). 

An alternative for employment, which is sometimes off the table, is to work on different projects for a personal portfolio. Not only would you use your programming skills, but you also would have a chance to create everything from scratch. Showing your preceding activity and engagement also makes a difference during job interviews.

To illustrate, one of the most popular projects for newcomers in Data Science is the Boston home prices prediction with linear regression. You can get the data at Kaggle and start working on the dataset with Jupyter Notebook using Python. Explore the data first, then start reading about the algorithm and try to use it. In the end, you can find someone else’s solution and read about their model to learn new things. In this case, comparing to different people is a benign good choice. Another advantage offered by Kaggle is that you can verify your solution and check how well it will do regarding other users’ results.

However, this approach is stiffer and requires more persistence to achieve your goals. You would need to learn from your mistakes and find a way of validating your work. The great idea is to share your code with the community on sites like GitHub and collaborate with many people interested in similar subjects.

The third option is to enroll in online courses. The convenience of doing so is that you know in advance what you can learn and how long it will take to accomplish your goals. You can always check opinions and make sure the content is valuable before you sacrifice your time. One of the best places with online courses is Coursera, which I highly recommend. 

To sum up, there isn’t the best way of broadening your horizons. These three are only examples that you can try simultaneously to help you acquire new skills and knowledge. Don’t hesitate to explore different options, and eventually, you will come up with a solution tailored to your needs.

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