Zero to Basic Programs: Resources for Beginners

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why I want to learn to code. My goal for this post is to share more about what I’ve been up to, outlining a few resources that have been helpful along the way.

First, a little bit about my background with coding.

I’ve never self-identified as an especially tech savvy person, but I did grow up using computers and adapting to rapidly changing technologies. I’ve been working at tech startups in the California Bay Area for the last few years, by title in marketing and account management, but in practice in doing-whatever-needs-to-get-done (whether that’s acting as a project manager, training new employees, or just taking out the trash). I began dabbling with HTML and CSS while crafting some marketing emails a few years ago, but aside from those markup languages, I had never written a line of code before 9/1/2014.

Once I decided that I wanted to learn to code, I felt a little overwhelmed by the number of directions I could take my learning. After some initial analysis paralysis, I decided not to invest too much energy into determining what coding language to start with, but rather, to focus on just getting started. I learned to write my first few lines of code in JavaScript, had a lot of fun, and decided to stick with it.

I’ve been using a variety of resources to build my skills, discovering what works (and doesn’t work) through lots of trial, error, and repetition. Here are some of the resources I’ve found most helpful for getting started:

Code Academy. Offers gentle introductions to the syntax of many coding languages. I went through the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript tutorials. If you’ve never written any code before, I recommend starting here.

Eloquent JavaScript. Compared to Code Academy, this book gets much deeper, much faster. I’ve been hanging out with Chapter 5 for a little while now.

Coderbyte. Features programming challenges that you can solve in many languages. I have been working through the ‘easy’ challenges in JavaScript.

Mozilla Developer Network. An invaluable reference that I use on the daily! Studying the reference materials (especially for strings and arrays) helped me make some critical breakthroughs on the ‘easy’ Coderbyte challenges.

Stack Overflow. Have a question? People from all over the world are willing to help.

Girl Develop It WorkshopsGDI has a lot of resources for women learning to code. I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are a lot of local classes and events, and I go to as many as I can.

Meetups. Find one near you! My goal is to attend at least one code related meetup a week. I’ve met some amazing people at local meetups, many of which have offered (and continue to offer) so much help. The Women Who Code meetups are some of my favorites. It’s great to make learning social.



3 thoughts on “Zero to Basic Programs: Resources for Beginners

  1. I love the meet-ups too! So great to just throw yourself into a room with like-minded individuals and see what happens.

    Have you checked out “The Odin Project”? Great site made by a guy who learned to program and then went back and filtered all the best tools into one place. They offer great little projects that increase in difficulty as you move through. The cool part is all the “solutions” to the projects are available online, so you can find people who think similarly to you, and people who think different, and learn from both.


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