You’ve learnt to code, but now what? You may have some basic skills, but you’re not sure what to do with them. Here’s how to choose and get started on your first real project.
Choosing Your First Project: Start Simple
Chances are you learned to code because you had a few ideas of things you wanted to accomplish, so it’s time to pull up that list of development dreams and see what might be feasible. While you can take on a rather complex and time-consuming project for your first — and you’ll definitely learn a lot — you probably don’t have a lot of time to devote and might find yourself giving up out of frustration too easily. I feel the best thing to start with, when you’re in the learning phase, is something you actually want to do that you can accomplish pretty quickly. That way you’re rewarded with something you made that actually works the way you’d always hoped in a very short amount of time. You can use that triumph as motivation for the next project, which can be a lot bigger.
Large, sweeping tasks don’t work in any situation
The same goes for a game like pong. If your maths skills are pretty good, you could create a Pong game pretty easily in about 30 minutes or less. The project you pick should be easy enough that it won’t require you to spend a ton of time to finish it, but also plays to your strengths. (You should also avoid making things like Pong and make something new and unique as that is generally more rewarding and motivating when all is said and done.)
Completing Your First Project: Never Stop Learning
Being a developer means you’re always learning. New projects mean learning new skills, or at least better ways to accomplish tasks you’ve already figured out in the past. Your first project is always the most daunting because you’re starting out with the least knowledge you’re going to have, but as you continue on with subsequent projects you’ll learn that pretty much everything you do is going to involve venturing out into the unknown. That’s a good thing, but it might take a little adjustment.
Keep Your Reference Materials at the Ready
Avoid Frustration by Taking It Slow and Getting Help
If you’re not used to thinking like a developer — and chances are you aren’t if you’re reading this — you’re probably going to get frustrated more than a few times while coding your first project. That’s OK, and it happens, but you don’t want to get to a point where you feel like giving up because it’s too hard. Make sure you give yourself a realistic schedule. An hour a day is a good amount of time to get quite a bit done. It may feel like things are coming along slowly, but that’s primarily the case in the beginning. Once you see things coming together and starting to look like a (web) application, your excitement will take you the rest of the way.
Overall you just have to stay diligent, read up on what you want to do, and fail a lot until you learn the skills you need to finish your project. Developing software can be tough when you start out, but once you get the hang of it you’ll find it fun and rewarding. The first project can be the toughest, but if you take measures to simplify everything and keep yourself on task you will be done before you know it.