When you are entering college and you say: “I want to be a computer programmer” a smiling college counselor hands you a sheet of paper with steps A-Z that tells you exactly what to do. When you are in the real world and you say: “I want to be a computer programmer”, nobody tells you what to do. You have a strong feeling that you don’t need a full degree program, but you don’t know what you can skip. Do I just need A, D, J, M, and Q? What happens if I miss H, will I still be able to get work? And if Q requires 3 months of time, do I really need it? You need a plan.
One of the keys to learning a new task to do it professionally is staying focused. It takes time to acquire the requisite knowledge. Over that time there are many other priorities that will compete for your attention. Laser-like focus is required to see it through and a well-defined path is required to maintain focus.
Now that I’ve convinced you that you need a plan, here is how I got started. First I evaluated the way I learn. This took a long time, mind you. I spent at least 3 years getting books from the library and trying to teach myself Java, PHP, SQL, etc… with no luck. Will Hunting got his education by spending “$1.50 in late charges at the public library”, but that wasn’t going to be me. I needed somebody to teach it to me. Next post – finding a teacher