One of the biggest challenges that programmers face is how to keep programming skills sharp in the ever-changing, and fast-moving world of software development.
While there are a lot of different ways to accomplish this, it can be difficult to find the time and resources to remain vigilant in your learning, especially if your day job isn’t programming-related.
To help you keep up with the constant changes, here are 8 creative ways (with an additional bonus tip) on how to keep programming skills sharp and in tune with the latest developments in coding languages, tools and frameworks.
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1. Commuting to Work? Pick Up Audiobooks or Use YouTube
If you have a long commute to work, take advantage of that time by listening to audiobooks or podcasts related to programming. This can be an easy way to passively keep up with the latest advancements in your field, without having to put in extra effort outside of your commute.
You can also use this time to watch lectures on platforms like YouTube from professors at well-known universities or industry experts.
2. Revisit and Update Your Existing Projects
Odds are you have a few projects from the past that you never got around to finishing or ones that could use a face-lift. Spending some time updating your old projects is a great way to refresh your skills while giving yourself a sense of accomplishment.
Fixing bugs, adding new features, or even just refactoring code to be more efficient or readable are all effective ways on how to keep programming skills sharp.
3. Contribute to Open-source Projects You’re Passionate About
Contributing to open-source projects is a great way to give back to the community and keep those coding skills up to date. Not only will you be able to work with other experienced developers on real-world codebases, but you’ll also get exposure to new languages, tools, and frameworks that you may not have had the chance to use before.
If you’re not sure where to start, GitHub has a great list of popular open-source projects that you can browse through to find something that interests you.
4. Participate in Discussion Boards or Local Events
If you’re not the type of person who likes to learn alone, that’s okay! Another way to develop your programming skills is by connecting with others in your area, as many cities have local programming meetups or events that you can attend.
Also, consider using online discussion boards to virtually connect with others who have shared interests in the code of your choice.
5. Challenge Yourself With Hackathons or Programming Tournaments
If you’re looking for a more competitive way to learn, hackathons and programming challenges can be a great option. These events usually have strict deadlines and rules, which forces you to think outside the box and work under pressure.
While not everyone thrives in this type of environment, it can be a fun way to put your skills to the test and see how you stack up against other programmers in your area.
6. Pick Up Freelance Side Work
Another avenue for how to keep programming skills sharp is through freelance side work. There are many websites available such as Fiverr where you can register as a freelancer and offer your programming skills.
Not only will this give you the chance to dip into new technologies, but it can also be a great way to expand your portfolio and make some extra money on the side.
7. Teach or Write Tutorials for Others
Writing tutorials or teaching others about programming can also be a great way to learn more yourself. Not only will you have to brush up on your knowledge of the topic, but you’ll also gain valuable experience in communicating complex concepts to beginners.
You can write articles or tutorials for online publications, or even volunteer to teach a coding class at your local library or community center.
8. Not a Lot of Time? Play Coding Games
Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to fit learning into a busy schedule. If that sounds like you, don’t worry – there are still plenty of ways to sharpen your skills, even when you only have a few minutes to spare.
These games range from simple puzzles to complex challenges, and they’re a great way to get some quick practice in without having to commit to a long-term project.
Bonus: Take Online Coding Courses
If you would rather have a structured way to sharpen your programming skills, consider joining Codecademy. This is a platform that has a large catalogue of free and paid courses on different programming languages that can help you get started on something new.
Codecademy also has a comprehensive list of resources for you to use like practice projects, community-driven code documentation, cheat sheets, articles/videos, and community-centered meetups, events, forum and even a Discord chat to join.
Learning how to keep programming skills sharp is essential for anyone in the tech industry. Whether you want to learn through educational resources, contribute to open source projects, or take on the competition through hackathons and coding challenges, there are plenty of ways for you to stay ahead of the curve.
What’s your favorite way of keeping your skills sharp? Let us know in the comments below!
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