Learning to Code? This Is What I Learned in 6 Months

MikkeCSS, HTML, JavaScript, Learning Programming, Programming Languages, Python, WordPress2 Comments

Calendar and Keyboard

What can you achieve by learning coding for six months as a complete beginner? When you first get started with coding, you’re surely curious to know how soon you’ll see progress.

In this post I’ll share with you how much I managed to learn and what I achieved in the first six months when I first started learning how to code. I’ll take you through each individual month separately and give you an overview of the main resources I used and found helpful.

So, if you’re new to programming and thinking about where you’ll be after learning coding for six months yourself, this post is for you!

Happy reading!

Where did I start at?

First off, let me briefly explain where I first started at in terms of experience and motivation. After that, I’ll take you through each of the six months in more detail and point out the most important resources I found and used.

Finding my motivation

Firstly, I wanted to learn programming to be able to solve problems better. For a more elaborate version of the story, check out my post about why I decided to start learning how to code.

Second, I thought coding would be a fun hobby to have. It seemed like something where you’d be able to define your own pace and see continuous growth.

Thirdly, the vast possibilities and the diversity of the practical applications of programming skills felt very interesting. I was sure there was a nice little niche for me somewhere in a specific field that I would become really good at.

Dealing with time constraints

Unfortunately, my motivation and determination was heavily constrained by the amount of time I had to spare. As for the most of us, I only have 24 hours a day – sadly. With a full-time job keeping me busy during the day, I decided I would practice for one whole hour every day. That would be my minimum.

Now it was time to let my drive and motivation kick in!

Working on laptop

Month 1: Choosing my first programming language

The first month started with a plethora of questions I needed to find answers for, such as:

  • What does programming mean exactly?
  • What does it entail?
  • Where and how should I start learning?

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to the way you start and learn. What really matters is that you figure out a good plan for yourself. Check out my earlier post about how you can get started with programming in four easy steps.

— See also: How to Choose Your First Programming Language

Finding the first resources

For a risk-free start, I wanted to find some free resources for learning first. I mean, I wasn’t even sure I’d like programming!

Luckily, it turned out the Web is packed with more free coding courses that I could ever consume. Codeacademy was the first website I actually finished some lessons at. And let me point out that at this point I hadn’t done any programming whatsoever before. None.

I was surprised to see how quickly I saw actual output from what I was doing. I first started with HTML and CSS and managed to build a basic website with just a few interactive lessons.

Choosing my first language to focus on

I then moved on to the Python course Codeacademy offers. After a few exercises and some research about what Python is used for, I was hooked! Python seemed fun, easy for beginners, and very versatile. I knew this would be the language I would focus on first to learn it properly.

To find more structure and clear goals for myself, I got an amazing book called Python Crash Course. It takes you from zero Python knowledge to finishing three cool practical projects of your own. First, you learn the syntax and how the language works. After that, you can apply your fresh skills for creating a 2D game, analysing and visualising data, or building a web application using the Django framework.

 

After the first month, I had finished the book and my first project – the web app. It took me around 3-4 weeks to go through the syntax part of the book and just 2-3 days to finish the project.

Main resources used:

Month 2: Learning Computer Science Basics

Into my second month, I felt like I was making really good progress – and very fast! This was making me even more curious to learn more and see what I was capable of.

Know how your computer works!

However, I didn’t feel overly confident about my skills yet. I noticed there were lots of new questions tumbling inside my head that I wanted to answer. Most of them were related to computer science in general.

If you’re serious about learning programming, you obviously need to know how a computer works. And also what it’s capable of doing for you! Understanding the basics of computer science is therefore essential for beginner coders.

Finding an online computer science course

I found a free online course called Intro to Computer Science at Udacity. Quite conveniently for me, out of all programming languages out there, the course uses Python. The main project of the course is to build a simple search engine, which was pretty fascinating for a beginner!

So, I was able to maintain my focus on just one language and at the same time learn computer science basics – the ideal combination for myself at that point!

Around the same time, I found another great course at edX.org called Introduction to Computer Science (or CS50) from Harvard. The video lectures are really easy to watch – the concepts are presented in a very engaging way to the students, which keeps it interesting.

After the second month, I felt more confident about using Python for solving problems and I knew what was happening inside a computer when my code was running.

Main resources used:
  • Python Crash Course continued
  • Intro to Computer Science (Udacity)
  • Introduction to Computer Science (edX)

Coffee and laptop

Month 3: Expanding my horizons to new languages

During the first two months, I had consciously been focusing on learning only one programming language. It worked really well for myself and I can fully recommend doing the same thing if you’re completely new to coding. Being able to look for answers concerning just one language helps you keep your head clear.

Going from back-end to front-end

I decided it was time to complement my back-end skills in Python with some front-end skills in HTML and CSS. I had learned the basics on the very first day of the first month and now it was time to dive deeper with them. If front-end vs back-end development doesn’t sound familiar, check out my post about it here.

Python Crash Course had also already introduced me briefly to HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap in the web app project. To learn more, I wanted to find a good online course to also learn the basics of other commonly used web development languages.

Starting a web development course

Out of all the resources I browsed through, one caught my eye: The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 on Udemy. It’s a very comprehensive introductory course to several common web development technologies. You’ll get to learn HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Bootstrap, WordPress, Python, PHP, APIs, etc. Definitely worth its price – especially if you happen to come across a special promotion at Udemy!

Before I even noticed, another month was knocking on the door – and I had only just begun with my new course! During the third month, I only managed to finish the HTML and CSS modules and had a great time cloning existing websites and making my CSS work like a dream!

Main resources used:
  • The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 (Udemy): HTML and CSS

Month 4: Discovering WordPress and launching my own website

With a quarter of a year of learning coding behind me, I was still going strong and the fast progress was keeping me really motivated! I knew I wasn’t going to master any programming language in just months or even years, but I wasn’t in a hurry.

Throughout the month, I focused my time and energy towards practising my HTML and CSS (a lot!) and simultaneously starting new modules in my web development course.

Learning WordPress

First, I finished the WordPress unit in the web dev course. Having spent a lot of time the past couple of weeks on trying to make my CSS work like a dream, WordPress just felt like a gift from up above!

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get a website on its feet so quickly!

In fact, I liked WordPress so much that I decided to use it to launch my own website a bit earlier than I had planned. I was having so many thoughts and ideas in my head from the past few months and felt like I needed to write about how learning programming had been for me to keep my learning structured. Since writing is like a gateway to me, creating a blog seemed like the best way to go.

For now, my website would just be a simple page with a blog and some information about myself. Later on, I would start building a portfolio of selected projects I had finished. Stay tuned!

If you’re interested in WordPress, too, check out my post about my favourite reasons for using WordPress in web development!

Starting a WordPress course online

I was so intrigued by the possibilities with WordPress that I decided to dive into more detail and start a new course on Udemy. They happened to have a nice promo in place, so the courses were all very affordable.

The one I chose at the end was The Complete WordPress Website Business Course. It basically takes you from knowing nothing about building web pages to creating a bunch of different types of websites with WordPress.

Ultimately, the course aims at providing you with the skills you’ll need to start your own WordPress web development business. That’s quite a goal for an online course!

Main resources used:
  • The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 (Udemy): WordPress
  • The Complete WordPress Website Business Course (Udemy)

Laptop Code

Month 5: Starting with blogging and learning JavaScript

The fifth month was all about learning new skills for web development.

With my blog, I could easily keep my thoughts more focused and also track my learning. Writing about my experience was a great way to process everything I had learned so far.

Still, I didn’t feel like I was particularly good at any of the programming languages I had befriended so far. But I wasn’t in a hurry! Looking back at day one of the first month, I understood that I had already come a long way – but the fun and games were only starting!

To complement my HTML and CSS skills, I learned the basics of JavaScript with my Udemy web development course. Furthermore, I put a lot of effort in my WordPress course, too.

Main resources used:
  • The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 (Udemy): JavaScript

Month 6: Revisiting Python, building my first portfolio websites

Final month! I spent this last month brushing up my skills in Python and Django, WordPress, Bootstrap, and some very basic PHP.

With some practice in Bootstrap with my web dev course, I finally finish the first proper project I had started with Python and Django. The back-end part itself was pretty much done after the first month, but I really wanted to make it look nice and be more user-friendly.

Take a look at the project here – it’s a web application for keeping a private online journal or diary. Feedback much appreciated!

Additionally, I was able to learn enough about WordPress to start building actual websites that I can use in my portfolio eventually. I started with a portfolio website for a photographer, but there are more ideas in my head than I have time to execute!

Main resources used:
  • The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 (Udemy): Bootstrap, PHP
  • The Complete WordPress Website Business Course (Udemy)
  • Python Crash Course revisited for Django

Laptop on a table


Learning coding for six months: Summing it all up

With this post, I simply wanted to demonstrate what you can learn in a relatively short amount of time when you start coding. In just six months, you can easily manage to get acquainted with a number of different languages and technologies and of course finish some projects of your own while you’re at it.

When I first began, I was wondering how fast I could learn and where I’d be in a month, in six months, and maybe in a year. Perhaps you’re in a similar situation, with a full-time job and learning programming at the side. I hope this post can help you figure out what’s possible. Just keep the following points in mind:

  1. Coding is awesome
  2. Learn it at your own pace
  3. Anyone can do it – that includes you!

So, after learning coding for six months, how far have I come? Looking back, the day when I first started seems so distant! As I mentioned earlier, I don’t consider myself having become an expert in any of the programming languages I’ve been learning, but it’s a good start.

Now it’s time to kick off the new month by improving my variable skills in Python and Django, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Bootstrap, WordPress, and PHP to start with. I feel like the journey has only just begun, and it’s not coming to an end anytime soon!

Please feel free to contact me anytime if you have some questions or feedback!

Toodles!

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  • Maria

    Wow, Mikke! You have really pushed your blog and your first project to
    the next level! I remember your first project as an infant. It was
    impressive back then, as you could build it so quickly from scratch, but
    now it has improved so much I could hardly believe it was the same
    project I was looking at. Well done 🙂

    • Mikke

      Thanks, Maria! It’s definitely been a while and I’ve learned a lot in the meanwhile. Happy to hear you see some progress, too 🙂