Programmers interested in coding schools often ask us questions like, "What language should I learn?" or "What project should I work on next?" These are great questions, but if I had five minutes to talk one on one with a budding developer, they're not topics that I'd touch on. Here're the three high-level topics that have the biggest affect on your ultimate success:
Beeline to Your First Computer Programming Job
Your first developer job is paid, high-intensity, ongoing training. You should aim to start as soon as possible. Look at what programming skill sets and experiences you'll need to get your first job, and work directly towards that, with no deviations. Future blog posts will outline a plan in detail, but the short answer is: if you have a portfolio full of working code that you can show to an employer, you can get your first job.
Computer Programmers: Optimize for Motivation
The biggest obstacle in your career path is getting stuck or bored, and giving up before you truly lift off. As such, you should do things that will motivate you to carry on. Start or join a programming study group. Set up a weekly time with a developer friend or Craigslist tutor, and bring new questions to the table. Post your new work to Facebook. Join a development bootcamp like Hack Reactor -- classes start every seven weeks ;)
Move to a New Programming Job Before You're Comfortable
Each topic in the field of programming is very deep - so deep that you could spend your whole life learning more. Move on as soon as you're able to, using the above two principles as your compass.
Here's a bonus point: the best way to tackle all three of the above is to build real-world projects. You'll end up with something you can put in your portfolio and show off to your friends, and having real constraints and problems to solve will force you to move on from topics when it's time to. Here's a project curriculum that takes you from zero to hirable:
* Blackjack (HTML/CSS/JS, no server)
* Hacker News (HTML/CSS/Node.js/Mongo)
In the next couple blog posts, we'll walk you through the technical concepts you'll need to make it through these projects. As always, feel free to respond to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll answer personally.
-Douglas Calhoun Co-Founder, Hack Reactor