So you’re ready to learn to code in 2020. When first starting out, you may be overwhelmed by all the things you need to know, but don’t fret. We know what it’s like to start from zero and work hard to launch your dream career in tech. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it. See our top three do’s and don’ts for learning to code.

1) Do set some goals.

Why are you learning to code? There are tons of different languages, so set yourself up for success by focusing on one (at least to start out).

Python is another popular language, and for many, it has relatively straightforward syntax. This makes it a great introductory language.

Java is also a great starting place, since it remains one of the most popular languages across disciplines. It’s used for developing Android apps, and is flexible enough to be used across different platforms.

And if you already have your heart set on a specific field, we’ve collected a list of some of the most common programming languages by industry.

Don’t give up when you make your first mistake.

Code is hard to learn. You’ll probably have plenty of struggles, followed eventually by an “A-Ha” moment where everything clicks.

Push through the frustrations. If you need to, get up and take a mental break before going back to a challenging project.

Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. You will make mistakes and the code will break. That’s normal, and part of the process. Learn from every mistake and don’t give up.

2) Do take a course.

You can only go so far teaching yourself. A structured curriculum, group of peers learning the same subject, and experienced teachers will be invaluable when you hit roadblocks. You can benefit from their perspectives, and gain insights that might not even be included in the course material itself.

There are plenty of coding classes out there (just ask Course Report or Quora if there’s any doubt). And you’ll have to do your research. But a course that includes a personal mentor and career assistance will give you a major advantage. After all, most people who are learning to code have an end goal: to launch a new career.

Don’t rush it.

Learning to code takes time, and there’s no way around it. While you might want to jump into building websites, we suggest starting slow and getting the fundamentals right. Begin where the kids do -– build something fun and easy to accomplish first, to give you the confidence to keep going.

If you don’t have much technical knowledge yet and you’re starting from ground zero, there are plenty of free tools for beginners.

Just remember, you gotta start somewhere.

3) Do push yourself.

There’s always more to learn, and the world of software development is constantly changing. Continue your own education even after you finish a class or get your first job. Follow your favorite coding masterminds on Twitter, and sign up for some useful industry blogs. Continue to ask questions and do your own independent research when a new app or development tool interests you.

If you’re ready to start learning and building a foundation now, here’s our reading list for new coders.

Give maximum effort when learning to code, because it’s a complex field that needs a lot of brain power. Add an extra hour of study time, debug that last line of code, and push yourself to achieve more. In the end, you’ll be happy you did.

Don’t forget to ask for help

Learning to code is a team sport. Don’t think that you’re alone when first starting out. If you’re in a Thinkful course, you’ll have ample support to get you to the finish line with a personal mentor and career coach. Always ask questions and reach out for help. If you don’t know how to solve the problem, someone else will.


Learning to code is not for the faint of heart. It’s work. But becoming a software engineer is a rewarding career –  read about the salaries you could earn or the jobs you could land.

Ready to start coding? Check out our Engineering Immersion, Engineering Flex, and Engineering Nights and Weekends courses.

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