Learning to code is a rollercoaster ride. At the beginning, it’s incredibly intimidating to figure out where to start. For many, it can feel like the beginning stages of writing a long college paper. It seems like you have an endless amount of information to work through, and absolutely no idea how to get the ball rolling.

Eventually, you gather the courage to dive in. You start learning, building confidence, and maybe even get to the point where you land your first job as a developer. Wherever you’re at in your journey, you can probably relate to these 21 common experiences that most new developers go through at some point.

all gifs via giphy.com

1. When you’re fascinated by the insane amount of programming information available on the internet.


The amount of information available online to help developers really is incredible. The community is a tremendously collaborative one, and most problems that you’ll come across over the course of your career as a developer are solvable by articulating the issue in a Google search. 

2. When that fascination fades away after you waste days trying to figure out which language to learn first. 


Remember that the path to becoming a self-sufficient developer, who understand how to learn programming concepts, is more important than the details of the programming language itself. So don’t fret too much over which language is the “right one” to learn first. However, if you are worried, feel free to read through out 2016 Programming Languages Guide, which helps you figure out where to start.

3. When you have your first “I’ve done it” moment. 


In the process of learning to code, everyone encounters challenges, frustrations, and things that might not work as you expect. There is an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction when you figure out something that has bothered you for hours or even days. It’s quite the rush.

4. When you realize that you’ve really messed up this time.


Pretty sure that everyone can relate to that sinking feeling when you realize that you’ve spent hours trying to achieve something and now need to throw away your work to start fresh.

5. When someone corrects you after you use a programming buzzword incorrectly.  


There is so much technical and confusing terminology in programming, so making mistakes is completely natural. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re probably going to feel pretty silly after saying a completely meaningless statement, something like:

“Let’s implement the AJAX request on the server side!”


6. When you feel like an absolute genius.


You may even believe you’re probably the best in the world at this particular skill. Some parts of programming are easier than other parts, and reaching the “I got this!” level of confidence feels great.

7. When moments later you realize that you actually still have no idea what you’re doing.


Everyone goes through that reality-check moment in which you realize that there are no shortcuts when it comes to learning to code.

8. When you properly communicate like a real developer, using a buzzword, TLA, or other piece of developer jargon.


It feels pretty amazing to be able to talk-the-talk. But you don’t want to appear too excited, and you try to make it look like you’ve been there before.

9. When you use a whiteboard for the first time to figure out a technical issue. 


Who would have thought that the most powerful tool to solve programming problems doesn’t even involve a computer.

10. When you ship your first application live to the internet without using a tutorial. 


Shortly after, you learn that different web browsers have different compatibility capabilities with CSS and Javascript, which causes your application to appear broken in Internet Explorer.

11. When you feel like you tricked someone into hiring you for a development position that you thought you were unqualified for. 


Years later, you learn that the hiring manager actually knew exactly what they were getting into. Companies look to invest in junior developers for the long haul, and they don’t expect you to have all the answers on your first day.

12. When you say that “just a few more lines of code” are needed before launch, only to find out that hours or even days are needed. 

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It turns out that estimating time for development projects is incredibly hard to do.

13. When you’re nervous about going to your first meet-up or developer event. 


Later on, you realize that these types of events actually attracts a ton of really cool people, many of whom are very similar to you. There’s also free pizza. What’s better than that?

14. When someone asks you to build their cool startup idea.


And you’re confidently able to answer: “I can, but I won’t. Why don’t you learn to code too, just like I did?” This is an experience that all new developers can relate to.

15. When you’re so ready to pitch your own startup idea at a hackathon.


The skill of pitching an idea is very different than the skill of actually building it out. But if you can develop both skills, you’re in some pretty special territory.

16. When you try to sneak a feature in before a teammate who doesn’t know better, so the teammate will have to deal with the merge conflicts instead of you.


Merge conflicts are annoying, so you’ll use tricks so that it’s on your teammates to figure it out.

“Hey guys, you mind quickly looking at this code right now and helping get this into master?”

17. When you share a web application with you friends, only to have them populate it with stupid, profane, or embarrassing data.


You can always count on your friends to troll you in every situation possible. But, let’s be honest. If the tables were turned, you would do it too.

18. When you enter your first really bad codebase. 


There is always that one guy who sets up the codebase in an incredibly reckless and incoherent way.

19. When you deal with the reality of deadlines, sprints, product managers, and deployments.

At some point, every developer has to work through this stuff.

20. When you sneak a hilarious comment into the codebase for someone else to uncover later. 

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You can get creative with this one. And it’s always amazing when your coworkers eventually stumble upon your “yo dawg” meme in the source code months later.

21. When you wake up in the morning thinking about code.


It’s a sudden awakening, followed by the thought of looping through an array or working through a tough algorithm. It’s really awesome when you can have coherent thoughts about code prior to your first cup of coffee.

Have you gone through any of these experiences? If so, share this post using the Facebook and Twitter buttons. 

AuthorKen Mazaika

Ken Mazaika is the CTO and co-founder at Firehose. Previously, he was a tech lead at WHERE.com (acquired by PayPal) and a member of the PayPal/eBay development team in Boston.

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