Disclaimer: This was originally written on my Medium blog here, so the formatting is a little different from my usual style.
I have been blogging for nearly two years and with it I got to learn a lot about writing good code, challenges that arise (particularly with data science) and how to navigate them.
What I also got to be exposed to the two truths below. Once I became aware of them, it helped a lot with filtering out the noise regarding exactly what I needed to do to be successful in this field. Its my hope that you will also.
The two truths are:
1. During any “gold rush” there will be people selling “picks and shovels”
During the California gold rush its said that those who made the most money were those who sold “picks and shovels”.
In today’s day and age the “gold rush” for many is a job in tech, and trying to get there comes with encountering many sellers of “picks and shovels”- be it in the form of a course, a software or a development framework.
This is not to say avoid paying for a course of a software that a individual or a company is selling. Do your own due diligence. There are many options for learning how to code that you can use for free that offer just a as good (if not better) learning experience than paid courses.
If you ask me, in terms of educational content, freeCodeCamp is the one stop location for everything you need to know when started to learn a programming language or a specialization. I’ve even seen prep courses for networking and cloud computing certifications there!
If I could tell you one thing- before putting your money into sort of education or software, see if it does better than the free DIY option- you will be surprised how many aren’t!
2. Those who can’t do- Teach!
When most of us have heard this line it usually refers to insulting the profession of teaching. I’m using it for the exact opposite.
If you find yourself not competent in being able to solve a problem or write code without getting errors and spending hours of debugging- teach it!
Look into the problem and how to solve it. Share how you solved it. Share what you learned in the process in the form of a tweet, blog or video. Demonstrating what you can do speaks volumes more than a certificate of completion from many of the “courses” you’ll find for sale.
I am a big fan of having a blog which is not connected to a particular platform where you have complete control (like a WordPress site). That way you can migrate and customize your content at whenever you want.
Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine.[…] Fill your website with your work and your ideas and the stuff you care about. Over the years, you will be tempted to abandon it for the newest, shiniest social network. Don’t give in. Don’t let it fall into neglect. Think about it in the long term. Stick with it, maintain it, and let it change with you over time.
If you aren’t experienced yet, having a blog sharing your progress will accelerate your ability to learn. Before you know it you will find people coming to you for help, and you will find yourself being able to answer their questions- and getting paid for it. Its happened for me and it can certainly happen for you.
These ideas came to me after spending more time and seeing people who were in my situation lost trying to figure out how to make their break in this field.
I hope you found this useful. Be sure to share this blog around!