How and why did you get started with coding?
I was always fascinated by the concept of being able to build stuff on your own, so I was always inclined towards learning how to code and being able to build stuff on my own from scratch. I was actually a computer science student in Manipal Institute of Technology, an Engineering college in India. Being in a CS course in an engineering college, coding should have been my bread and butter but till my final year, I didn’t know how to code. I had a 5.0 GPA (we have GPA on a scale of 0-10 in India) and was barely passing my exams. The main reason for this was the way in which the course was taught - I just couldn’t learn or pay attention in class. The education system here focuses more on rote learning than practical learning. That’s when I decided to give online courses a go to learn coding.
What were your goals when starting to code and how did you keep motivated?
I decided to learn to code in my final year in college. I used to go through the Codeacedemy courses after college and on the weekends. Seeing the course progression day by day on Codecademy was a good enough motivator for me. But one of my major reasons to start coding was to build a music discovery website that I had in mind. Being able to make that a reality and bringing that product to life was one of my biggest motivations.
What was the most challenging part of learning how to code, and how did you rise above those challenges?
I think the initial phase when I had just started to learn to code was the toughest phase for me. Having decided to build an entire website on my own, from the frontend to the backend and everything in between, being able to visualise how all the things connect and work together as a whole was quite challenging in the start. I had help from a couple of coder friends which was a big plus. For anything else, I always had the internet at my disposal. All you need from your end is total dedication. If you are ready to put in the effort, it will definitely show the results in the long run.
Which resources would you recommend to folks just starting out?
I decided to build my website using Django - a web framework on Python. With a comprehensive documentation and strong online community for both Python and Django, it was easy to get started with that. For HTML/CSS I found a lot of good articles and tutorials over at Smashing Magazine. When the time came to learn about hosting and web servers, I found pretty detailed tutorials over at DigitalOcean that turned out to be pretty helpful. For anything else, whenever I got stuck StackOverflow came to my rescue.
How did you start creating your own projects?
I was a music enthusiast from the beginning. Back in college I started listening to electronic music and I was instantly hooked. EDM had just started becoming popular and was starting to become a part of the mainstream music. A problem I faced as a fan was that I knew of a couple of popular songs from some DJs but if I wanted to listen to more of their songs I had to search across various music blogs or browse through a couple of YouTube playlists to find what I wanted. There wasn’t a one-stop solution to help me discover all this in one place. EDM Hunters was thus born to solve this problem. Being extremely passionate about electronic music, I decided to build a website with the aim of helping both new and seasoned listeners of the genre to help them discover the best and latest of electronic music.
What advice would you have for folks who are just starting out or thinking of getting started?
Don’t be intimated by how complex things might seem in the beginning. Everyone started of at the same spot. Start with small projects are try to get your fundamentals clear. It does get intimidating at times but the key is to not give up. There is nothing more satisfying that watching something you wanted to build come to life.
How did you get to where you are now? What did you do after Codecademy?
After Codecademy, I started building EDM Hunters. I was done with a basic prototype in around 3 months. The joy of watching finally seeing coming to life is something words cannot describe. After building that, thanks to it, I got a job as a software engineer at a startup - BuyingIQ, a shopping advisor and price comparison website. I worked there for almost a year. I’m currently working as a software engineer at another startup called CollegeDekho. It’s an education startup covering various institutes across the country and helping students figure out the best options for them. I’ve been working here for the past year. I graduated from college in 2014 and working with these startups has immensely helped me hone my technical skills and gain insightful insights into what goes behind building a product from scratch.
Which steps would you recommend for folks who want to find jobs after Codecademy?
Try and build small projects to showcase your skills. Also try to find an internship at a startup. Startups are always on the lookout for enthusiastic people with good skills and there is no better way to learn than on the job.