(Previous: Whiteboards in Engineeringland)
How do you make sure you retain what you learn each step of learning to code, AND have a way to show prospective employers how far you’ve come?
Projects. Lots of projects.
Not to mention that the more projects you’ve done, the more tools you have in your (virtual) developer’s tool belt–you have lots of examples to use as patterns that will inform more difficult coding tasks.
This is where I’m happy to recommend Free Code Camp. Free Code Camp is free (!) and offers certificates in Front End Development, Data Visualization, Back End Development, and Full Stack Development. Each certificate path includes a number of exercises to learn the necessary skills, as well as a project portfolio. For participants who complete all four certificates, there are also opportunities to volunteer to work on full stack projects for nonprofits. There is also a very active chat room where participants review each others’ code and help each other when they get stuck, and various Facebook groups by city for participants who want to meet up in person at a common location.
Free Code Camp certificates are meant to be completed in order (here’s a map of the whole process), and so are structured in order of increasing difficulty, but many participants skip to what they are most interested in, or only do the challenges required for the certificate, without the preliminary exercises.
Each project also has a checklist of user stories and requirements, like what you might see in an Agile work environment, and a sample project that you can look at to get a general idea of what is expected (although it is also okay to take your project in a different direction, as long as you can check off the requirements and user stories!).
Now that I’ve finished the Front End projects, I’m working through the Visualization projects, which are a little more challenging, but continue to build on the same skill set from the previous projects (here’s my current project set, if you want to get an idea of what the projects are like).
Completing one project after the next has given me more confidence, and at this point the challenges that I’m working on are often analogous to real-world developer challenges, which is also encouraging. I can see how far I’ve come in a short time, and I’m determined to keep pushing ahead to the next set of challenges.
So if you’re like me and love project-based learning, I highly recommend Free Code Camp!
(Next: “Simple” != “Easy”)
**Back End projects are done in Cloud9, an online development environment that skirts some of my I’m-not-using-a-Mac dependency installation problems. Love it!