Striving for Focus as a Newbie in Tech

As a self-taught tech newbie, one of the things that I found out later on in the path of learning and which I know the majority of persons in the same situation face is the 'How to focus'.

What should I learn?

This is a question I asked myself over and over in the past and has received a lot from people in recent times.

The first programming languages I learned as an undergraduate was Java and C++ in 2nd year and then QBasic in 5th year. Why that was in my scope of learning as of 2017 is beyond me. It was still a learning process where technically I learned the skill as of that time but what wasn't taught and I didn't learn was the essence of it.

How was it beneficial to me? What would I do with this knowledge?

This was a question I couldn't think of and wasn't taught to think of.

Months down the line, I'm learning Python and still have not answered the question, what would you use this skill to do?

Just like doing random shopping for items you have no idea what it would be used for, I was learning a skill I didn't know what I could use it for and some newbies are not far from this. As a result of that, we are everywhere and nowhere.

Well, at this point, I have forgotten about Java, C++ and QBasic and am more familiar with Python because of a BootCamp that caught my interest. But then I was stuck at recursion. So I started asking questions. It was either I asked the wrong questions or I asked the wrong people but I was however redirected to take up a web development pathway. so that was HTML, CSS, Javascript.

I start this pathway and wow....HTML and CSS seemed so easy to understand and work with and so I thought I was making progress. Until I got to Javascript and I was back to the beginning, stuck with questions and no guidance. Then I thought, this tech thing isn't for me. As I spent nights and days in different pathways on web development and all using Javascript, I almost concluded that there was no need.

So at this point, I was trying to learn a tool and not how to solve a problem or create a solution. This I believe is where a lot of newbies have it rough. This is also evident in people who want to get into tech when they say, 'i want to learn to code' and I ask them, 'and then do what with it'. I get no response afterwards.

Knowing why you want to acquire a skill is very essential to acquiring that skill and the process of acquiring it.

Thinking back, I didn't have to get on a web development path. There are a couple of paths that don't require me to learn Javascript and Document Object Model and I wouldn't feel discouraged or unsatisfied with my progress. Most importantly, I wouldn't be all over the place. I probably would have just gone for SQL and focused on database management and administration or systems administration and the rest of that. And just maybe, I will come around with JS eventually😏. If only I knew better.

So if you are new in the tech space and you want to learn to code, here's a focus-driven approach.

  1. Ask and answer the question,

    • 'why am I interested in this?'
    • 'Am I solving a problem?'
    • 'what problem do I want to solve?'
  2. Research for similar projects and the resources that were used for developing it

    • Github
    • Hash node
    • Medium
  3. Learn to understand the different components that build or are used to build the solution

    • Programming language
    • Frameworks
  4. Replicate the solution and ask questions in the process

  5. Repeat the process a second time and the third time tailor it to fit your problem.

  6. Stick to one programming language and/or framework for a while.

  7. Find peers and network with common interests as the track you are currently on.

  8. Learn, Build. Connect with focus and resilience, that way you won't learn everything and have a problem narrowing down your options.

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