Today, Java developers are extremely in demand all over the world.
For example, Naukri.com currently has over 100,000 job openings. Easy employment and high salaries are just two factors among many others that make this profession so attractive. Nevertheless, becoming a Java developer isn’t a piece of cake. Working over ten years in online learning, I’ve collected several common mistakes that aspiring developers make. In this article, I’ll share them with you and suggest some tips for overcoming these obstacles.
What can go wrong, and what to do about it?
Every developer, like every person, is unique. Still, you’d be surprised how typical mistakes we make during our studies may be. Learning Java isn’t an exception.
Here are the most common things you should be aware of as a new Java developer.
Too much theory, too short on practice
If you have watched The Big Bang Theory show, you probably remember Sheldon trying to learn how to swim. He bought a course and practised on the floor but never went to the pool. Nevertheless, he was sure he had mastered swimming. Don’t be like Sheldon, don’t dedicate too much time to Java theory sacrificing the practice. Instead, start writing code as soon as possible, even if all you can do so far is type “Hello, world!”.
If you study on your own, balance the time you spend reading or watching videos – and the time you actually write programs. If you’re choosing a course, find the one with the best ratio of practice/theory (in my opinion, 80/20 is optimal).
Lack of focus
Some people feel safe when they “know it all.” The problem is that there’s no “all” in programming: too many technologies, too many methods, and too many concepts for one person to grasp. You set yourself up for failure if you believe you need to learn everything to become a Java developer.
No, you don’t need to know every technology. You need to know the core and then gradually expand your knowledge. Don’t worry; it will happen whenever you have a task you don’t know how to solve. Every new complex task will force you to learn something new – when you will already be a practising developer.
Lack of discipline
You won’t become a programmer if you can’t dedicate enough time to studying or if you can’t do it regularly. It sounds basic, but it’s true. You need to code, and you need to do it daily. Even half an hour makes a difference (although the more, the better).
Wrong attitude towards mistakes
You’ll make tons of errors at the beginning of your coding journey. That’s why it’s essential not to give up and not call yourself a loser if you can’t perform a task on the first attempt.
Also, you must constantly check your code to see if you’re moving in the right direction. You can ask someone to review your code, do it yourself, or use auto-checkers embedded into some online courses or platforms.
Not asking for help
Humans need support, especially when it comes to long-term learning. In programming, we often face tasks we don’t know how to approach. It’s the right moment to ask for help. You can turn to your friends, colleagues, or popular forums. But the most value you can get from a mentor – a person who’s already a practicing Java developer. They have already walked this road, they had their bunch of mistakes, and they can answer your questions. You can find a mentor yourself or enroll in a course that provides such a service (like CodeGym).
Not rewriting your code even if it may benefit
Solving a task and solving it most efficiently are not the same things. You can’t call yourself a good developer if your code is not optimized. Sure, it takes time and practice to distinguish the bad code from the good one. The most crucial point here is, don’t think, “it works; let’s move on.” Review your code – maybe there’s a way to make it faster and more refined.
Stopping at some point
The beauty and the curse of programming is its evolving nature. You can never stop learning, even if you are a Senior developer with a sky-high salary. The moment you say, “I’m already good enough to study,” – you die as a programmer.
If mediocrity is not what you’re aiming for, you can never stop. New technologies appear constantly, and companies create new services and solutions. Nobody requires you to know everything, but you become better every day by staying eager to learn.
How to increase your chances of success as a Java developer?
Knowledge, strong skills, the right attitude, and self-discipline are equally important for an aspiring Java developer. Here are some tips that can help you to utilize the hidden power of learning:
- Set a goal. Why do you need Java? What type of Java developer do you want to be? Would you like to create applications? Or work on scientific projects or enterprise systems? If you understand what you need Java for, it’s easier to plan your path to the goal.
- Create a schedule and follow it. As mentioned above, studying every day is the best option, but you must be realistic. If you have a full-time job, obviously, you can’t dedicate so much time to studying as a person who doesn’t work. Also, too intensive learning can be exhausting in the long run. The key here is to make studying a challenge but not too hard.
Then, if you study by yourself, make your study plan. Choose the topics you must learn, for example, Java Core, syntax, collections, frameworks, APIs, etc. Add to this list things that you or your mentor consider necessary for the goal you want to achieve.
Finally, allocate time for theory and practice in your schedule. Once again, practising is more important, so you should do it daily. And as for the theory lessons, typically, it’s enough to have them 2-3 times a week.
- Balance the complexity of tasks. Too many easy tasks can’t help you grow quickly as a developer. But too complex tasks may discourage you and, hence, slow you down as well. So, what is the best way to learn? The answer is choosing the right combination. For example, solve ten easy tasks, then approach one complex. Repeat.
- Remember that learning to code isn’t studying at high school. Usually, you know what it takes to be a good student. Attend classes, do your homework, etc. – and you’ll get high grades. But when it comes to programming, expectations aren’t that clear.
What makes an excellent developer? Not grades, not even years of experience. A good developer is flexible and open to new challenges. They may not know everything, but they are willing to find out if a project requires it. They like experimenting and trying new things rather than repeating old patterns. And they never stop learning. If you have these qualities, with a significant amount of practice, you’ll become a successful Java developer very soon. And then you’ll start choosing among job offers from the best companies in the world.