What Should I Learn Next?

Undoubtedly, you’ve perused the internets, read some blog or twitter post about the hot new thing that everybody and their burrito is learning and then scrambled to complete some useless Hello World tutorial (or ToDo App more likely) that gives you the most superficial understanding of said language/framework. You get back on the internets/twitter/devRant(get this if you don’t have it) and repeat steps one through whatever…

After a year or so of doing this you are now the sorta-kinda-master of a dozen programming languages but can’t really use one to do anything significant. This is a common problem that I and most new developers or people learning how to code fall into: they want to learn everything… NOW!

I quickly learned after my third tutorial for a different language in the span of a month, that I didn’t really know any of the languages (Ruby, PHP and Javascript) that I was studying. A much wiser, senior mentor influenced me to stick to javascript, and after three months of vanilla javascripting my way around DOM manipulation and creating browser events, I had a pretty good grip on using it. This understanding of Javascript has helped me tremendously as I picked up Angular at work, some React in my spare time and Node.js. It even made learning Ruby that much easier.

While programming languages may have different syntax, nuances and built in functions, many of the core concepts are the same: arrays, conditional statements, data types, iterations, etc… But I often meet people learning to code that keep going for the flavor of the month so that they’re familiar with every framework that came out this year but can’t iterate over a loop or use an API to request data.

While it’s tempting to learn whatever’s trending in the forever changing landscape of tech, you’ll almost certainly be better off learning a few things well. There’s a developer needed for every language you can think of (even COBOL… but don’t learn COBOL) so forget that framework that will be replaced by a completely different framework next month and go past the hello world’s and todo apps that litter the interwebs and make something cool.

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