Happy New Year! 5 Lessons From A Newbie Programmer In 2013

It is almost 2014, and I already have the first 3 months of the New Year jam packed with excitement! I can’t wait to share some of the exciting things that I’ll be doing in 2014, but first, I wanted to reflect on all the incredible things I learned in 2013:

Programming is FUN

I have to admit, the first year and a half I spent learning to code, I was doing it because I had to. I wanted to have the freedom to build my own ideas, so quitting was just not an option. I’m really glad I stuck with it, because this year, I’ve finally crossed the threshold of liking programming for the sake of programming.

I’ve made small contributions to open source projects, and I’m excited when I find new ways of contributing! I want to release at least one Cocoa Pod in 2014, and actually have a few ideas of what I want to make!

I’ve also been more and more interested in learning the lower-level programming skills like algorithms and optimizations, and I couldn’t be more excited about all the opportunities and resources out there to help me learn this stuff in 2014 and beyond!

I still can’t believe I found something that I enjoy doing 🙂

The Most Learning Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

I started the year as a full-time Ruby on Rails developer, and I was very comfortable with that title. After all, I worked very hard to earn it. And although I am far from being an expert Rubyist, I am comfortable with the Rails framework. In contrast, I tried learning iOS programming before, and failed miserably.

So when the opportunity came up at work to learn iOS development, I knew I had to face my fears. I applied and attended Mobile Makers so there would be no turning back, no safe option. It was the one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

In the process of learning iOS development, I completely fell in love with it. Besides that, I learned a lot about Rails and programming in general. Knowing Rails has made me a better iOS programmer, and learning iOS has made me a better Rails and generalist programmer.

Every new programming language I learn, helps me understand the different philosophies behind programming, which helps me learn new languages much faster.

So in the beginning of 2014, I will continue facing my fears by learning a little bit of Android development. Technology changes very fast, and it’s very important to constantly stay outside your comfort zone to become good at learning it!

Speaking Up Is Rewarding

Being so new in this career, it’s hard for me to speak up when I don’t agree with another programmer on something. After all, they have more experience than me!

However, in the past few months, I’ve made an attempt to speak up more and it’s worked out great every time. I either learned something new – why a different approach is better than what I had in mind – or I was able to convince the other programmer that my approach is better, which is definitely rewarding as someone so new to the field.

In 2014, I plan to continue making an even bigger effort to really speak up!

Luck = Preparation + Opportunity

I feel very lucky to be where I am today, but I know that part of it had nothing to do with luck at all. Just by the act of blogging semi-regularly, I’ve met so many great people and learned a ton of stories. By going to meetups, I’ve gotten opportunities to practice my speaking skills, and by going to hackathons, I was lucky enough to win an API prize.

It’s definitely been an exciting year of hard work and really taking advantages of opportunities all around me. I will continue putting myself out there in 2014 and see what that’ll bring 🙂

Know Your Limits

One of the biggest things that keeps me going is knowing my limits and setting myself up for success around those limits. I know I have to sleep 8 hours per day, eat healthy, and exercise to have the most brain power to solve hard problems and be my most productive self.

Working around those limits, I’ve created a very tight schedule for myself. Knowing my brain doesn’t function well at night, especially after work, I wake up at 5am to learn or build, then go to work, then exercise or go to meetups after work, and then really take a break before going to bed – that pretty much includes sitting on the couch and watching Netflix or reading a good book!

It’s been an intense year, and my next 3 months are jam packed with excitement that will challenge me in all new ways, way outside my comfort zone. Knowing that, I’m taking the first two weeks of the New Year off (yes, off the grid!). I know a break from everything will help me get started on my new challenges in a refreshed state of mind with a new perspectives of the world.

I cannot be any more excited for 2014 and what’s to come! Happy New Year!!!!!

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