6 Programming Study Tips for Non-IT Education Background
Learning tips to start studying programming for all the beginner
Cornellius Yudha Wijaya
Whenever I speak with my old college mate or my junior, they often ask me this one question “How could I start learning a programming language?”.
A simple question, but otherwise an important question for anybody who is never exposed to the Programming language. Would non-IT people capable of learning a programming language? Sure, you can.
Whatever your educational background, it is possible to learn to program. Furthermore, the probability you would use a programming language in this modern time would be higher than before. If you already have an interest in the programming language, there is no better time than now to start learning them for your future career.
I, a non-IT educated individual, could learn to do programming — and so everyone else. In this article, I want to share my success tips on studying programming language and managing to master it. Let’s get into it!
1. Determine Why You Want to Learn Programming
The first tip I could give to any people who want to study Programming Language is to decide why they want to learn Programming language. Is it for your career, for the knowledge, or you want to follow the hype?
I have seen many friends and students try to learn programming language without any strong reasons in my career. They want to learn programming because of the buzzword where AI is the future or many jobs need programming language but did not know what they want from learning or even the job description.
What happens with them? in the first week, many of them are focus on learning everything they could — like, everything.
They want to know everything as soon as possible to apply for the job, but the motivation foundation is so fragile. After the first week, many left the learning they do because they feel either it is too hard, doesn’t do anything for them, or just feeling lost.
For us who are not forced to learn the programming language during our education time or within our employment, it is important to build a strong base for learning the programming language.
It was easy to mentally dismiss new things because we love to stick in our old habits — even the research said so. In one research, roughly 19 out of 20 people who were forced to find a new route for commuting would eventually return to their old route even when the new route is quicker.
Like the research above, I have felt I want to give up when learning a programming language for the first month. What keeps me going is the motivation foundation I have built — it is for my future career in data science, and the investment would worth it.
I know the programming language is essential in the modern data science world, and I know that a data science career is what I want.
In short, try to build a strong foundation for why you want to learn Programming Language. This is what would keep you going.
2. Decide Which Programming Language To Learn
There is always an argument whether to start with Python or R when you start learning Programming Language for Data Science. In my opinion, it does not matter which programming you want to start with, but what matters is you need to start with what the market demand — especially in the industry you want.
Research the job position, the industry, and the skillset you want. For most Non-IT educated individuals, you might already know what industry you want or at least used to but did not experience the job position. When you research the industry, most of the time, they would demand a different skill set.
In my time researching which Programming Language to learn, I research the Biological Industry (which is my major), where I found that many research data science positions might need you to know R. On the other hand, where I research the other industry (Finance, Technology, etc.), they often required you to know Python.
For my advice, you decide which Programming Language you want to learn based on your preferences Industry because it would feel familiar to you or aligned with what you want. Don’t try to juggle learning all the programming languages at first because you would end up failing at everything.
3. Always Start with the Fundamental
It seems obvious that we should start with the fundamentals, but somehow many people start with something that is advance. While I know the excitement to start the data science project is high, you could not start anything if you did not cover the basics.
Many of my friends and students did not have any IT education starting the learning by using the intermediate to advanced material.
There is no way they understand any of it from the beginning, especially where we are not trained to using all this tool. What happens is that they feel things too hard and giving up learning any programming language.
When you jump into the advanced stuff, your mental would not ready for it and start to block the possibility you would succeed in learning any programming.
There is a time when I am using advanced material for my learning when I am just starting, and I almost feel that programming is not for me — until I realize that I should start with the fundamentals. Then things feel right; I can progress much better after finishing the fundamental material and building up confidence in my programming skill.
My tips here — start from the fundamental, don’t be alarmed by the advanced material because you would build up your skill from the bottom.
4. Use a Learning Outline or Guide
This is also an obvious thing that people should do, but surprisingly many did not use any outline to help them study Programming Language. The difficulty level would be high if you did not even know where to start and what to study.
I remember when I was starting out learning Python, I use an online learning platform as my starting guide. It is beneficial considering that I am a beginner in the programming language and need a map to start studying. All beginners should do the same and try to find the guide online to see what the Programming Language is offered and follow the outline.
Of course, there are so many guides to start your learning journey, and everybody has different inclines when it comes to choosing the guide. For the Python guide, you could check out a complete beginner repository guide here.
5. Don’t Rush Things
The important thing about learning is to understand the concept and apply it in various conditions. Maybe you already feel jealous of all the people who have the Data Scientist job or with someone who already won so many Kaggle competitions — but you shouldn't; everyone has their own journey and pace.
Learning a programming language is similar to learning a new language, but it takes time to apply it to various data science case scenarios. If you feel learning any programming language is too slow, then it is normal — it is your pace, don’t rush it.
By rushing, I mean when you haven’t understood your fundamental learning and want to start exploring the data or when you are going applying for the job position and clearly did not master the programming skill.
This could end up hurt you mentally because you feel you are ready but end up failing. Learning takes time, especially for people who come from the non-IT; programming language takes time.
In my own experience, my Python learning journey takes around a year. Yes, it takes me a year to understand the fundamentals and start applying them to any data science project. I know many people who understand the programming language way faster than me, and that is fine — they are capable of doing that.
Don’t feel left out, or you need to catch up sooner; just learning in your time and secure the goal you want.
My word is — take time to learn the programming language and at your own pace to understand the concept.
6. Find a Mentor
For some people, you might be able to do any self-learning and successfully understood the programming language, but it isn’t the case for others. I fall into the latter group, where I need a mentor to help me understand the concept.
Why people from IT education able to learn a programming language? It is because they were mentored during their education time. So, why shouldn't you follow this method? Having a mentor is tremendously helpful during your learning process because they could help to guide you and show any mistakes you have.
I am a mentor myself and already know where my student pain point is during their learning process. Because mentors understand the mentee's struggle, they could help your learning process faster and efficiently.
Finding a mentor is a matter of resources because not every mentor having free time to taught you or available without any expense. It might be pricey to have a mentor taught you, but it would worth it. Without a mentor, I would not reach the capability I have right now and might take longer to secure the Data Scientist position.
Learning Programming is not an easy feat, especially for a non-IT educated person. In this article, I want to share my programming study tips with everyone. They are:
- Determine Why You Want to Learn Programming Language
- Decide Which Programming Language to Learn
- Always Start With Fundamental
- Use a Learning Outline or Guide
- Don’t Rush Things
- Find a Mentor
I hope it Helps!
Cornellius Yudha Wijaya
Cornellius Yudha Wijaya is a Data Scientist in Allianz Life Indonesia and often writing about Data Science in his free time. He holds a Biology M.Sc. Degree from Uppsala University and have since managed to teach people how to break into the Data Science industry.